Professor Manisha Sinha is a 2021 awardee of the James C. Pennington Award, which will be formerly bestowed upon her during the 2022 award ceremony, taking place on June 1, 2022. The James C. Pennington Award, awarded by Heidelberg University’s Heidelberg Center for American Studies and Faculty of Theology, remembers James Pennington, a formerly enslaved pastor from the United States who received an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University, the first known person of African descent to earn one from a European institution. Sinha, a scholar of abolition, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, receives this award alongside Dr. Carol Anderson, a historian of 20th century Black freedom struggles.
The award ceremony will be marked by a discussion with the two fellows on “The Unfinished Work of Reconstruction: The Long and Ongoing Civil Rights Struggle in the United States.” The ceremony will be live tweeted from the Heidelberg Center for American Studies account. More information is available on the Heidelberg University website. Congratulations!
On April 29, the History Department closed out the semester with a celebration of our graduate students. We congratulate you!
Hugh M. Hamill Graduate Fellowship in Latin American History
Daniela Itzel Domínguez Tavares
Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Award
Harry J. Marks Fellowship
Bruce M. & Sondra Astor Stave Prize in Recent American History
Albert E. & Wilda E. Van Dusen Award
Thomas G. Paterson Graduate Fellowship in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations
Sandra Rux Award
On April 29, the History Department celebrated the outstanding achievements of our students. We congratulate you!
Undergraduate History Excellence Award
Tyler Joseph Sciortino
Maddalena and Joseph Perrella Scholarship Fund
Tyler Joseph Sciortino
Allen M. Ward Prize in Ancient History
Karl Z. Trybus Undergraduate Award for Exceptional Work in Modern European History
Luca Di Cicco
Roger N. Buckley Award
Heather A. Parker Excellence in Historical Writing Award
Connecticut Celebration 350th Scholarship
Sandra Rux Award
UConn Today featured double History and Political Science major Mehdi Namazi’22 in a recent issue. Feeling led toward activist work, Namazi found the blend of history and political science to serve his intellectual and professional interests. He has decided to pursue a career in advocacy or policy work and is open to wherever those paths may lead. , Namazi hopes that his passion for coffee shops will sustain him as he explores life post-graduation. Congratulations and we look forward to following your journey!
The full UConn Today profile reveals more about Mehdi Namazi’s UConn experiences–from extracurricular activities to advice for first-year students.
The University of Connecticut’s Office of Undergraduate Research celebrated Jason Chang, Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies, with the annual Mentorship Excellence Award. This award, based on undergraduate student nominations and a selection committee, recognizes the faculty who go above and beyond to support and encourage students in their academic journeys. According to Karen Lau’ 25, Professor Jason Chang inspired them to be “unafraid of the unknown, to dig deeper to learn about my home state’s impact on Asian Americans, and to be bolder in my advocacy in my education reform.” For a professor as committed and compassionate as Jason Chang, this award is well-deserved. We look forward to the continued work that you will do to show students the power of advocacy, representation, and visibility. Congratulations!
Professor Chang received this award alongside Sarah Knutie, Assistant Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Mia Kawaida, a Ph.D. student in Animal Science. Please read the full article that details the tremendous impact of these three educators.
On April 7, 2022, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the 180 recipients of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Established in 1925, the Foundation intends to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.” The Foundation honored UConn History Professor Manisha Sinha, the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History, as one the scholars whose work exemplifies this promise. We celebrate this momentous accomplishment! She is the fifth UConn History faculty member to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship, following Richard D. Brown in 1998, Frank Costigliola in 1995, Thomas G. Paterson in 1991, and Karen Spalding in 1988.
Professor Manisha Sinha is an expert on the history of slavery, abolition, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. She is currently working on a book on the “Greater Reconstruction” of U.S. democracy after the Civil War, a follow up to her previous award-winning works on slavery in South Carolina and the history of abolition.
We encourage you to read the full press release and list of new Fellows, which spans across 51 academic and artistic disciplines and 81 institutions. UConn Today profiles Professor Sinha, her research, and this fellowship in their latest issue.
Connecticut State Historian and UConn History Professor Walter Woodward announced his retirement last fall. As 1 of only 5 CT state historians, Woodward has contributed to a new history of how educators and students imagine, remember, and study the stories of the past. In a UConn Today article written by writer Kimberly Phillips, Woodward reflects on the immersion, creativity, and dedication that characterize the work of the State Historian. He describes his mission to “connect the people of Connecticut with the fascinating and fabulous history of this state in ways that don’t come naturally in our educational system.” He achieved this mission through podcasting, outreach initiatives, K-12 engagement–activities grounded in communication, collaboration, and commitment.
Woodward’s interview, titled “State Historian Walter Woodward Considers the Past as He Looks to the Future,” is insightful, enriching, and illuminating read.
UConn History PhD ’15 Erin Bartram founded Contingent Magazine with this vision: to broaden who does history, how they do it, and where they do it. Bartram, who is a historian of the 19th century United States and currently works as the School Programs Coordinator at The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT, is an example of how to do history outside of tenure-track positions. As a part of Contingent Magazine’s “Doing History” series, Erin Bartram reveals what energizes her about her work, from the variety of programming to K-12 curriculum design. Bartram describes that through her work in public history, she is able to use her research in gender and family histories of New England to tell richer stories about the past. In the article, Bartram affirms that:
“Not only was UConn really the best place for me, I was fortunate enough to have an adviser who was endlessly curious and didn’t mind me roaming far afield. In a department with Dick Brown, Bob Gross, Chris Clark, Nina Dayton, Nancy Shoemaker, and Altina Waller–plus some Early America stars in other departments at the university–I could have only taken 18th and 19th century courses if I’d really wanted to. But I took all kinds of courses, and got really into histories and theories of colonialism. Oddly it was that stuff that led me into the topic I ended up researching.”
For more on Erin Bartram’s work, please read “How Erin Bartram Does History,”
A timely thesis from UConn grad ’21 Renee Semple who explored how narrative shapes public response and cultural memory. In examining the narratives crafted around the 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemics, Semple details the danger of historical erasure in the elevation of certain narratives over others. A job well done!
Renee Semple, “Preferred Narratives and Their Impact on Historical Memory: An Examination Through Comparison of Twentieth Century Pandemics”
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Shirley Roe
Societal response to a crisis and the narratives that emerge from the event(s) often vary and oppose one another. A narrative can be considered a point of view or a lens that is often cultivated through experiences and carries its own tone while telling events. This thesis compares the narratives that emerged from both the 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemics. Examining the 1918 influenza pandemic reveals both a public and a private narrative, in which the public narrative is the preferred out of the two. Filled with optimism, the preferred public narrative focused on moving forward and furthering scientific research—a modernist view that overshadowed the private narrative. This pattern is discovered in the influenza pandemic of 1957; the two narratives emerge, with the public one as the preferred narrative. By comparing these two pandemics within fifty years of one another, it is clear that a pattern of societal response and preferred narratives emerges out of these public health crises. The narratives created during the pandemics persisted afterwards by influencing the cultural memory and perpetuating instances of historical erasure.
UConn History Professor Dexter Gabriel is also known as speculative fiction author P. Djèlí Clark. How does a scholar of slavery and emancipation pen novelettes, short stories, and novellas? How did his academic path led to a double career in fiction writing? Explaining to writer Christine Buckley in “The Secret Life of Dexter Gabriel – aka P. Djèlí Clark,” Gabriel explains that speculation is the bridge between the two worlds. “I was just immersed in the things historians think about, and it came out on the other side. In history we speculate when we don’t know things,” he elaborated.
His pen name P. Djèlí Clark blends family history, perhaps an ode to how Gabriel merges the worlds of science fiction and history in his writing. Although writing outside of the academy is usually a cautionary tale for academics, Gabriel has disrupted the boundaries between the separation of “academy and public.” As his identity as a Black man, immigrant, and a first generation college student informed how much he would self-present as a fiction writer and academic, Gabriel continued to teach by day and write fiction by night, often accompanied by a 2 a.m. late night coffee. His latest work, Ring Shout, blends fiction and historical realities as it traces a band of resistance fighters who combat white supremacist demons in the early 20th century.
UConn Magazine carefully details Dexter Gabriel’s “travels” between fiction writing and academia. For more on P. Djèlí Clark’s work, please see: