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William Kangas, PhD

Teaching Professor, History


William Kangas CV


I was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and raised in a career Naval family. As a result of my father’s duty postings, I have lived all over the United States and in Korea and Okinawa. I attended high school in Seattle and received my B.A. from Whitman College, majoring in History and minoring in Religion. For a time I attended graduate school at the University of Iowa in the School of Religion, where I focused on Catholic theology and the history of religion. In 1986, I transferred to the University of Washington, where I received my M.A. in 1988 and my Ph.D. in 1993. My graduate studies focused on historical theory, European intellectual/cultural history, German history, and American intellectual history. My master’s thesis was on the American protestant theologian J. Gresham Machen and my doctorial thesis was on the application of the work of Hans Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida to historical theory. I have published articles on the Jewish modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg and on the relationship between the work of the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. I have also recently completed an article on the application of the work of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas to the ethics of historical theory. Currently I am working on a book manuscript on Hans Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida, with a specific focus on their role in reconceptualizing the nature of historical thinking and writing. My teaching in the History Department includes HIST 121 and HIST 120, the historiography and historical theory course for majors, courses on nineteenth and twentieth-century European intellectual/cultural history, the department’s Senior Synthesis course, and research seminars on the Enlightenment, Marxism, and European modernism. In addition, I also teach the Early Modern history course in the University Honors Program.