2012-2013 Werner E. Von Rosenstiel Lecture

On Friday February 15th, the UC History Department will host this year’s Werner E. von Rosenstiel Lecturer, Dr. Tara Zahra, of the University of Chicago. Dr. Zahra will present a lecture titled “Exodus from the East: Emigration from East Central Europe and the Making of the ‘Free World’.” Zahra’s transnational and comparative work in modern European history has won international acclaim, including six book prizes. She focuses on Eastern and Central Europe, but also looks westward to Germany and France, in an effort to integrate Eastern Europe into broader histories of Europe and the world. She is particularly interested in the history of migration and displacement, nationalism (and indifference to nationalism), and gender, childhood, and the family. She has published numerous articles and two books: Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948, Cornell, 2008) and The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II (Harvard, 2011).

The event will take place on Friday, February 15th, at 3pm in the Annie Laws Room (407 CECH). In conjunction with the lecture, the History Department is also organizing a workshop for graduate students on Applying for Funding, PhD programs, and Careers beyond Academia. The workshop takes place on Friday, February 15 from 11:00-1:00 in the Von Rosenstiel Room. Dr. Zahra will participate in the discussion which will focus on ways to secure support for graduate school and how to find employment afterward.

Queries about the event should be directed to Professor Katherine Sorrels (katherine.sorrels@uc.edu).

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UC History Department Takes on the 16th Century!

The UC History Department was well represented at this year’s Sixteenth Century Society and Conference held here in Cincinnati. Professor Sigrun Haude and numerous graduate students, including Kelly Smith, Debra Burgess, Ben Hunt, Mackenzie Keyes, Nate McGee, and Allysa McClanahan, all took part in the conference, which took place from October 25th-28th at the Omni Netherland Hotel.

The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference promotes scholarship on the early modern era, welcoming scholars from all disciplines, with presentations in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. This year’s conference was attended by over 700 scholars from around the world.

For the third consecutive year, Professor Haude served as the Program Committee Director for History. She organized numerous panels, in the process deciding on the theme of the panel, which papers would be presented, and who would act as their respective chairs.

UC graduate student Kelly Smith presented her paper “Interpreting the Heavens: Astronomy and Astrology in Early-Modern German Schreibkalender” for the panel “Scientific Discourse, Educational Practices, and Visual Culture in the Early Modern German Lands.”  She also served as chair for the panel “Early Modern Approaches to Religious Minorities.”

UC graduate students Debra Burgess, Ben Hunt, Mackenzie Keyes, Nate McGee, and Alyssa McClanahan also participated in the conference as volunteers at the reception desk.

Click here for more information on the 2012 conference.

UC History Department Well Represented at Annual AHA Meeting

The UC History Department was well-represented at this year’s annual American Historical Association Conference. Professors Brianna Leavitt-Alcantara, Robert Haug, and Shailaja Paik all presented papers.

Professor Briana Leavitt- Alcantara presented her paper entitled “Devotional Networks and Spiritual Geographies: Single Women in a Spanish American City.” Brianna was joined by historians from Boston College, Princeton University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz for a panel on Latin American History called “Escape and the City: Violence, Movement, and Women’s Lives in Urban Spanish America.”

Professor Rob Haug presented his paper “Between the Limits and the Gaps: Conceptualizing Frontiers in Medieval Arabic and Persian Geographies,” which discusses how social, cultural and political changes were manifested in the border areas of Medieval Afghanistan, Iran and the one-time Soviet Central Asian states which served almost as a “perpetual frontier.” Professor Haug was joined by historians from the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gettysburg College, and Brown University in a panel titled “Medieval Muslim Imaginings of Place.” For more on Rob’s presentation, click here.

Professor Shailaja Paik presented her paper “Deviant Sexuality and the Struggle for Survival: Investigating Caste-Based Sexual Labor and Everyday Living of Tamasgirs (Folk Performers) in Maharashtra.” She spoke on the panel “Boundary Crossings: Circulating Ideas and Lives in South Asia, 1800–2000,” which focused on labor and migration, revealing the prevalence and variety of flows of people, goods and ideas within and beyond South Asia.

For more details on this year’s conference, click here.

Hilda Smith Honored by her Alma Mater

Hilda L. Smith was recently honored by her alma mater, Southwest Missouri State (now, Missouri State University) as an outstanding graduate of the history department.  She offered a public lecture, “Letter Writer to Account Keeper: Women’s Work in Early Modern Art” on Jan. 25th based on the research she completed last year while on a fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  In addition, she met with Phi Alpha Theta members, groups of history majors and had dinner with the faculty.  She also has received a residential fellowship for the month of April to Chawton House in Hampshire, UK, which houses the largest private collection of early modern women’s writings and was a residence of one of Jane Austen’s brothers.  She will research the degree to which early eighteenth century fiction continued the feminist themes elucidated by the late seventeenth-century feminists she studied earlier in her career.

New Book Released by Dr. William Bergmann

Dr. William Bergmann who received his Ph.D in History from UC in 2005, and currently teaches at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, has just published his first book, The American National State and the Early West (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Dr. Bergmann’s research examines the influence of the Ohio Valley and the early West on the development of American nationalism during the early republic. His dissertation, “Commerce and Arms: The Federal Government, Native Americans, and the Economy of the Old Northwest, 1783-1807,” won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Economic History Association in 2005. He has taught courses on Colonial North America, the American Revolution and the Age of Jackson, American Manhood, and Native American History.

His new book challenges the widely held myth that the American national state was weak in the early days of the republic. Bergmann reveals how the federal government used its fiscal and military powers, as well as bureaucratic authority, to enhance land acquisitions, promote infrastructure development, and facilitate commerce and communication in the early trans-Appalachian West. Energetic federal state-building efforts prior to 1815 grew from national security interests as Native Americans and British imperial designs threatened to unravel the republic. White westerners and western state governments partnered with the federal government to encourage commercial growth and emigration and to transform the borderland into a bordered land. Taking a regional approach, Bergmann’s book contributes to social history, political science, and economic history while providing a new narrative of American expansionism, one that takes into account the unique historical circumstances of the Ohio Valley and the southern Great Lakes.

The book is already receiving excellent reviews and promises to make a lasting impact on the field.

“Intimate Indulgences: Salvation and Local Religion Eighteenth-Century Santiago de Guatemala”

On Friday, January 25th, at 2:30pm, please join us in the Von Rosenstiel Reading Room, 315 McMicken, to discuss Brianna Leavitt-Alcantara’s paper “Intimate Indulgences: Salvation and Local Religion Eighteenth-Century Santiago de Guatemala.” A copy of the paper can be found here, and also it is posted to the Blackboard site for the Department of History, under Content, and Current Faculty Research Projects.

This discussion is part of the ongoing UC History Department Research Seminar Series for the 2012-2013 year. There will be drinks and some sweets and savories as well as good conversation, so please join us. For any additional information, please contact Maura O’Connor at maura.oconnor@uc.edu.

“Continents, Cartography, and the Construction of Space in the Exploration of Africa and Australia”

Dane Kennedy, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, will be coming to the UC campus on Wednesday March 6th to give a lecture entitled: “Continents, Cartography, and the Construction of Space in the Exploration of Africa and Australia.”  The lecture will be held at the Taft House lecture hall that afternoon starting at 2:30 PM.

Professor Kennedy received his Ph.D. in British history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1981. He teaches British and imperial history at GWU. Kennedy was also the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship for 2003-2004. Some of his publications include The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World (Harvard University Press, 2005), Britain and Empire, 1880-1945 (London, 2002), The Magic Mountains: Hill Stations and the British Raj (Berkeley, 1996; Delhi, 1996), Islands of White: Settler Society and Culture In Kenya and Southern Rhodesia, 1890-1939 (Durham, 1987), and Decentering Empire: Britain, India, and the Transcolonial World, Dane Kennedy and Durba Ghosh, eds. (Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2006).

Upcoming Forum on Race and the War on Drugs

Professor Fritz Casey-Leininger and his class on the History of the Civil Rights Movement will be hosting a forum on Race and the War on Drugs on December 4th, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm in McMicken Hall, room 43. The forum is open to the UC community and to the general public.

The keynote speaker will be David A. Singleton, Executive Director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center. The OJPC is a Cincinnati based non-profit law office that works for the state-wide reform of the criminal justice system, including the eliminating of racial disparities within it.

To help put the discussion in a broader prospective, Professor Isaac Campos will provide historic context on the War on Drugs. Professor Campos is the author of Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012)

Dean Ronald Jackson of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences will open the forum with welcoming remarks and an introduction of the speakers.

Students in the class will have prepared for the forum by reading and discussing, The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010), by Michelle Alexander.

The History Department Offers New Seminars for Freshmen!

This spring the UC History Department is offering two provocative new courses for freshman that are designed to offer students new ways of studying and thinking about history. The courses are small – no more than 25 students, with a heavy emphasis on discussion and real debate over meaningful historical questions.

“Cuba and the United States,” to be taught by Professor Vanessa Walker, will offer a close-up view of the long and often tense relationship between the two countries, which extends deep into the eighteenth century, well before either one gained  independence. Key issues the class will explore include questions of race, economic relations, national security, ideology, revolution, and identity.

ImageMeanwhile “Women and Social Change in the ‘New’ South Africa,” to be taught by Professor Holly McGee, will explore the place of women in the political and economic struggles of South Africa during the twentieth century, with a special focus on the history of apartheid and its effects on women’s experiences. The last part of the class will also carry the topic forward to our time, looking at the challenges and opportunities that South African women have faced since the dismantling of Apartheid in 1994.

ImageBoth Walker and McGee are excited to be teaching these innovative courses. As Walker put it in a recent interview, “I’ve designed my class to address not only traditional approaches to international relations, but also to help students understand how music, sports, art, literature, film and even TV shows like ‘I Love Lucy’ can be used to understand the historical interconnections between  countries at multiple levels.” Walker hopes that the class will offer freshman  new ways to think about the study of history, while also raising interesting questions about what “foreign relations” actually look like, both past and present. McGee’s course is crafted to offer a similar mix of traditional and unconventional sources to help students look into the remarkable lives of South African women in a tumultuous time, bringing history alive in the process.

The poet Ezra Pound famously exclaimed “Make it New!” as a battle cry for literature in the modern age. The same goes for good history teaching. These courses are helping UC students and history professors alike keep it new as they study the past.

Taft Center Supports New Research on Early Twentieth Century Europe

UC History Professor Katherine Sorrels recently won a Taft Center Fellowship for the next academic year. She will be working on her book “The Evolution of Europe: Social Darwinism and the Ideal of Integration in the First Half of the Twentieth Century.”  The book focuses on the work of Alfred Fried, an Austrian Jewish pacifist whose work provided the model for the Pan-European Union during the interwar period. Sorrels examines Fried’s Pan-European idea in the contexts of the Darwinist sociological thought to which he subscribed, the international peace movement, and the Jewish experience in Austria.

Each year the Taft Center Fellows program, sponsored by the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from around the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. Each scholar is released from teaching and service obligations and given an entire academic year to dedicate to the completion of a major research project. Throughout the year the Center Fellows meet to discuss their ongoing writing and research. Professor Sorrels is only the latest in a long line of history faculty who have been a part of this exciting interdisciplinary program.