What Great Minds Can Do: Garrett Pruzinsky
Garrett Pruzinsky '19 has a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Political Science. He's excited to start his career as a history teacher but hopes to continue his education in the future and pursue a master's degree in History. Garrett is involved in the Sociology Club and participates in DOVE. He currently works as a USSF Soccer Referee. He is very interested in ancient history, especially the Roman and Byzantine Empires, as well as Medieval and Renaissance history.
Could you describe your senior Honors' project?
I examined the Byzantine Empire during the period of Justinian and his reconquest of the last Roman Empire. When learning about this event, I became also very interested in Belisarius, who was the Byzantine general who accepted a position from the enemy side to become the new King of Italy. It was a trick to win the war, and he planned on handing over the empire to the Byzantine emperor Justinian immediately. It was following the acceptance of the position when the relationship between Justinian and Belisarius started to deteriorate, because Justinian became very distrustful of Belisarius in the moment when he gained some authority. My project examined how the trust between the two leaders broke down over a two-year period.
What made you interested in this subject?
I've always been fascinated by the Roman Empire, even as a kid. It's been my favorite time in history to learn about, so I wanted to look at some aspect of the Roman Empire for my project. But after speaking with my advisor Dr. Wangerin, I realized the Byzantine Empire also piqued my interest, and I didn't know much about it at all. So, I thought I'd look deeper and see what I could find out.
Could you describe your research process?
I've found a lot of my sources through the Seton Hall Library and the library's website. It's been helpful in locating secondary sources, which I can then use to find the primary sources those authors used, and then I'll go read those and examine them. There are a lot of sources from the time, but their views are very biased so I have to sift through a lot of that information when I'm writing it. Also, a lot of the people who wrote the sources that I'm looking into were part of the upper class, and had political sway, so that’s an important consideration. Sometimes their writings might not necessarily be true, like a piece of propaganda to make themselves look a certain way.
How do you judge the accuracy of your sources in those circumstances?
If I find an example that pops up in a few different places, or in different histories of the same event or time period, I know that there's a good chance that it probably happened. But I still have to consider all the reasons why it may have been written.
What has been your favorite history course so far?
I took a class on Vikings with Dr. Wangerin and I really liked it. It was interesting to learn about all the raids and how far they were able to spread out.