Author: O'Hara, Alexa

History PhD Students Receive Humanities Institute Fellowships

We are delighted to report that the UConn Humanities Institute awarded three dissertation fellowships for 2018-19, two of which will go to graduate students in History: Aimee Loiselle and Amy Sopcack-Joseph.

Aimee Loiselle has been awarded a UCHI Fellowship for her project “Creating Norma Rae: The Erasure of Puerto Rican Needleworkers and Southern Labor Activists in the Making of a Neoliberal Icon.”


Amy Sopcak-Joseph, who will receive a UCHI-Draper Fellowship to work on “Fashioning American Women:  Godey’s Lady’s Book, Female Consumers, and Periodical Publishing in the Nineteenth Century.”

Speaker Spotlight: Julia Irwin by Shihan Zheng

On April 6, 2018, historian Julia Irwin will speak at the History Department as part of its Foreign Policy Seminar Series. 

Dr. Julia Irwin earned her PhD degree from Yale University; she is now an associate professor in the University of South Florida. Receiving the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award of USF in 2015, Irwin teaches classes focused on the history of the United States and its foreign relations. Her research centers on the place of humanitarianism, health, and welfare in 20th century U.S. foreign relations. Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening is Irwin’s first book and was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. Making the World Safe tells the story of U.S. relief and assistance for foreign civilians in the era of the First World War, and focuses on both the diplomatic and the cultural significance of humanitarian aid in these years. Based on the records of the American Red Cross and key personnel, Irwin’s research “examines the lives of a cosmopolitan cadre of American civic leaders, philanthropists, and medical and social scientific professionals—individuals who embraced foreign assistance as a new way to participate in the international community” (p. 2) However, Making the World Safe not only focuses on ARC leaders and staff, but also examines the American public in the importance of foreign aid to American foreign relations. Besides the monograph, Irwin also published many articles that examine American humanitarianism, health, and social welfare as a window into both U.S. domestic and international histories. Some of the topics that she wrote about are child health, nursing, and ethnic tensions. Currently, Irwin is writing her second monograph, Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disaster. Her current research is to examine how the United States government, American charities and relief organizations, and the U.S. public have responded to disasters caused by overseas tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other so-called “Acts of God” since the late 19th century.

In addition to researching and teaching achievements, Irwin also participates in several professional programs. She is currently council member for the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and member for the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize Committee. She is also the membership secretary of Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Speaker Spotlight: Erez Manela by Philip Goduti

On March 23, 2018, historian Erez Manela will speak at the History Department as part of its Foreign Policy Seminar Series.


Erez Manela is a Professor of History at Harvard University, where he teaches international history and directs the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.  Most recently, Manela co-edited Empires at War, 1911-1923 (2014) with Robert Gerwath, which examines the outbreak of World War I as a “global war of empires” and expanded the time frame to include the Italian invasion of Libya in 1911 and conclude with the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. He is also currently a General Editor for the Global and International History series for Cambridge University Press.

Manela didn’t think he was going to study history.  Commenting in one interview with the Harvard Gazette he said “I didn’t yet conceive of it as something you could do as a profession, but rather something you might study to know more about the world.”  Originally from Haifa, Israel, Manela went to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and stated that his experience there shaped the path that he would take.  “I realized that in the modern period…there were really fascinating parallels between the history of the Ottoman Empire and the history of East Asia, particularly China,” Manela said in that same Gazette article.  He wanted to consider that story in a broader context moving forward.  This approach shaped his scholarship that followed.

In doctoral studies at Yale, Manela focused on international history with a transnational approach.  His dissertation was the basis for his first book titled The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (2007).  Examining how the United States had an impact on the colonial world in the wake of World War I, with a focus on Egypt, India, China, and Korea, The Wilsonian Moment was very successful. The book was a major contribution to the field and seen by many reviewers as a groundbreaking study in transnationalism.  Lloyd Ambrosius for the Journal of American History called the book “excellent” and went on saying “Manela’s thoroughly researched and clearly written book is a fine contribution to international and transnational history.” Another reviewer wrote that Manela “brilliantly reconstructs the story of the colonial world at the end of World War I and the impact of Wilson’s new ideas for world peace and justice on the anticolonial movement.” The London Review of Books said that Manela “has produced an immensely rich and important work of comparative politics centered on the ‘Wilsonian Moment.’”

Manela is a very prolific scholar.  In addition to the aforementioned books he co-edited The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (2010), which explores the structural upheaval of the 1970s and how the international system was undergoing major transformations, and has articles in journals such as Diplomatic History, Reviews in American History, American Historical Review and Diplomacy & Statecraft.  Manela contributed a chapter on “The United States and the World,” which comments on the field’s methodology and historical questions, in American History Now (2011).

Manela’s ongoing research interest is to examine the World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Program from 1965-1980.  This endeavor “seeks to cast new light on important aspects of post-WWII international history, including superpower relations, the evolution of international development, and the role of international organizations.” Manela’s article, “A Pox on Your Narrative: Writing Disease Control into Cold War History,” which was published in Diplomatic History, discusses some of his findings. Manela is also researching United States visions for the world order during World War II, paying close attention to Asia. He contributed a chapter titled “The Fourth Policeman: Franklin Roosevelt’s Vision for China’s Global Rule” in The Significance and Impact of the Cairo Declaration (2014), which highlights some of his preliminary research.

When Manela was appointed as full Professor in 2009, Harvard University’s History Department Chair Lizabeth Cohen said “[Manela’s] work is very important because he is part of a very small group of historians who are moving the traditional field of diplomatic history, which for a long time had been concerned with the foreign policies of the largest, often western nations, to a more international history.”