Graduate Research

Graduate Student Spotlight: Matthew Novosad

Matthew Novosad, UConn History, Graduate StudentIn November 2021, UConn History Master’s student Matthew Novosad presented at UConn’s annual Graduate Research Conference. This conference is an opportunity for 2nd year graduate students to engage their research ideas with the broader UConn community. The work presented at this conference is based on research conducted during the 5102 course, “Historical Research and Writing.”  Matthew Novosad’s research examines perceptions of submarine warfare during the First World War. His paper was titled, ” ‘The law of nations, the law of man, and the law of God’:  Discourse on Submarine Warfare in American Newspapers during the First World War.” He is also the president of the Franklin Historical Society and board member of Ashbel Woodward Museum in Franklin, CT.

1) What is your 5102 research project about? What are the central research questions? What are some of your findings?

My 5102 Research project was about the discourses about submarine warfare during the First World War in the United States. I primarily utilized newspapers for this project, drawing especially on editorials, advertisements, and letters to the editor. One of the guiding questions for all of my research, not just this project, is why did the submarine come to be almost exclusively associated with Germany during the World Wars, even when other countries made extensive usage of their submarine fleets? As well, I am also interested in how was the submarine understood during the war. I felt that one potential way to explore these questions was to look at how submarines were being discussed in the United States and to thus see if the discourse was about the submarine as an object. As I discovered, the conversations were mostly about the usage of submarines and how people viewed that usage within a legal framework. Additionally, I was interested in how the submarine was viewed in a wider cultural context but was only able to scratch the surface of that theme with this project. Films, I feel, would be an interesting angle to explore as there were multiple submarine related movies produced and released during the war that didn’t have much utilize the conflict as a theme – such as The Submarine Pirate in 1915 which starred Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother Sydney Chaplin. Another was the 1916 production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

2) How did you become interested in your research topic?

My father was a submariner during the late Cold War and he served onboard the USS George Washington Carver (SSBN 656) and the USS Augusta (SSN 710) so I grew up in a Navy household covered in Navy and submarine decorations. I also attended the Avery Point campus for my BA and most days I drove by a sign which stated that Groton is the “Submarine Capital of the World”. We could look out of our classroom windows and maybe see a Submarine leaving the Thames River and Long Island Sound for the Atlantic. I’d say I’m a product of my environment.

Additionally, I’ve always had an interest in the First World War and when I was an undergraduate, I discovered pictures of British and French submarines which had participated in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. I had never known, up until that point, that the Allied powers utilized submarines during the First World War. It sent me on an odyssey to discover as much as I can about them. There are many questions I feel that can be explored through the Allied usage of submarines: What challenges does a naval war pose to coalition warfare? How did the Allied powers fit the usage of submarines into their strategies? How did they ‘sell’ their usage when they were condemning the Germans for Unrestricted Submarine Warfare? What relationship existed between civilians and an, at the time, relatively new weapons system? What can we glean about an emerging military-industrial complex (or as other scholars have termed for this period a “naval-industrial complex”)? How were the experiences of the First World War absorbed institutionally by Allied navies, how did that affect them going into the Second World War?

That’s a bit of a long-winded way of saying I became interested in this particular topic for my 5102 Paper in an effort to hopefully learn a little bit about the disconnect between the Allied usage of submarines during the war, and why they are almost non-existent in many accounts of the war at sea during the First World War. The specific shape that the project took, analyzing material that mostly came from newspapers, was the result of circumstance. COVID-19 and attending my first year of Graduate School online made doing other sorts of research more problematic.

3)  What were some of the strategies that you used to organize your research? Did you use any digital tools or software?

My main organizational tool was Zotero. It made not only saving and organizing the secondary literature easy, it also let me maintain a well-organized database of my primary sources. I sorted them principally by date as I was exploring responses to the submarine at certain “flashpoints” such as the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 or the German resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. Zotero also made citations much easier!

4) What was your favorite part of this research project?

The cozy days I spent with tea or hot cocoa (two of the three major drinks in the Royal Navy during the First World War) sifting through the mountains of material I had uncovered. There’s a sense of adventure and discovery as you get to actually start reading through your primary sources. I like to envision myself almost like Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring when he goes to do research on the “One Ring”, although with far less at stake than the fate of Middle-Earth! I will say though, that for this project, I did miss the physicality of in-person research.

5) What was a memorable finding that you uncovered during your research?

It was easily the advertisements. Some of them were very humorous with slogans such as “Submarine Prices, Aeroplane Quality” while others can make you scratch your head such as a two week, two page spread of a “Submarine Sale” which used the imagery of unrestricted submarine warfare to sell clothing. At the very least, the companies who utilized these sorts of motifs did not believe that there was enough public animus against the submarine as an object that they could use it to try and sell their wares so I found that to be extremely memorable.

6) How did this project shape how you conceptualize your future career and/or research goals?

It has clarified for me that Allied Submarines were nearly forgotten during the war, let alone after it. I’d love to explore more deeply how they were (or weren’t) utilized in propaganda and in the construction of post-war national narratives. It has also helped show me that there is no work which deals with the design and usage of the submarine in a truly transnational context. For example, many histories treat John Holland, an Irish immigrant to the United States, as the “inventor” of the submarine. Holland’s big innovation was combining already existing inventions which had been used in submarine construction in countries like Spain and France, and then selling his version to the US Government. I’d love to see how inventors across the globe envisioned their submarine designs and research from the 1850s onwards. I’d also love to explore the concept of Connecticut as an “arsenal” of the United States. Both major American submarine designers and manufacturers were based in Connecticut: Electric Boat was (and still is) in Groton, while Lake Torpedo Boat Company was based in Bridgeport. Both companies sold their designs to the United States Navy and to other governments around the globe.

7) What inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in history?

Like Ishmael in the opening chapter of Moby-Dick, I accounted it was high time I went “to sea” once again. Graduate school, for me, was the next logical step in my career. I had taken time off after completing my BA in 2018 to take stock and see what I really wanted to do. In October 2019, after a year and a half of part-time jobs (some of which I loved, some of which I didn’t) I decided it was finally time to apply and to take my history career to the next step. I don’t see myself doing much outside of the realm of history – although what form that explicitly takes, I am not yet currently sure of.

8) What do you appreciate about studying history?

The freedom. I get to explore topics that interest me and even more importantly I get to share what interests me with other people. Research and studying are a paramount part of the job, but I find that what’s key to me is sharing historical knowledge and methods with a wider audience. It’s why I participate in the “AskHistorians” project, why I’ve appeared made podcast appearances, why I reenact as a hobby, and why I work so hard on local history as President of the Franklin Historical Society and as board member of the Ashbel Woodward Museum in Franklin, CT – because the teaching of history is what really excites me. I like sharing my insights and excitement with others!

9) If you could teach any course, what would it be and why?

I’m torn, I would love to teach a course about the First World War or a course about local history. The First World War I hope is at least a little obvious based on my earlier answers! I feel there’s a lot that students could gain from a course on the war and the way that we still very much live with its legacies. I envision such a course focusing not just on the European theatres, but its global dimensions and impact. It would also give me a chance to talk not only about submarines and the war at sea, but also about cavalry which is a rabbit hole of mine!

On the other hand, I’m in many ways wedded to local Connecticut history. It’s my firm belief that all history is local history in at least some way and I get so much personal value out of my work at the Franklin Historical Society and Museum. I’ve found in my tenure as the Franklin Historical Society President that my very small town as a very big history which connects it to so many major events and social movements. Franklin has both been influenced by, and has itself influenced, the larger world. No place is “unchanging” and it’s extremely fulfilling to help tell new narratives and stories in a town which had a fairly “static” history. I also find that local history has much more immediacy for people and makes the “big” more tangible. To be able to share Connecticut history with students would be an honor.

Matthew Novosad Writes About African American War Veteran from Franklin, CT

Matthew Novosad, UConn History, Graduate Student

UConn History MA student, Matt Novosad, has written an insightful article about Homer Peckham, who was the only African American war veteran from Franklin, CT. In his Norwich Bulletin article, Matt walks us through the life of Peckham, before and after his military service. A job well done! We look forward to reading more of your work that recovers the hidden histories of Franklin, CT.

Recent Graduate Student Achievements

Please join us in celebrating the many recent achievements of UConn graduate students.  

New Positions

Kate Aguilar (PhD 2021) defended her dissertation, “In the Eyes of the Hurricanes: Miami Football, Race, and American Conservatism.” She began as Assistant Professor of African American History at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota in Fall 2021. 

Hilary Bogert-Winkler (PhD 2019) appointed Assistant Professor of Liturgy at the School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN in Fall 2021.

Nathan Braccio (PhD 2020) defended his dissertation, “Parallel Landscapes: Algonquian and English Spatial Understandings of New England, 1500-1700.” He started as Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental History at Utah State University – Uintah Basin in Fall 2021. 

Danielle Dumaine (PhD 2020) completed her dissertation, “Selling Herself: Diane di Prima, Desire, and Commodity in the Postwar United States.” She has been Visiting Assistant Professor, University of North Texas since Fall 2020. 

Kevin Finefrock (PhD 2021) defended his dissertation, “The Long Emancipation: Navigating Slavery’s End in Connecticut, 1780-1830.” He is Associate Director of Employer Engagement and Operations, Connecticut College.

Edward Guimont (PhD 2019) started as Professor of Global History at Bristol Community College, Fall Rivers, MA in Fall 2021.

Aimee Loiselle (PhD 2019) began a position as Assistant Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University in Fall 2021. 

Winifred Maloney (MA 2018) has started a new position as Associate Dean of College Counseling at Choate Rosemary Hall.

Lauren Stauffer (PhD 2021) completed her dissertation  “Beyond the North Atlantic: How NATO Developed an ‘Out-of-Area’ Perspective, 1979-1991″ and began work in a position with the US government.

Megan Streit (PhD candidate) began work this fall as Deputy Director of Operations for Capstone, Keystone, and Pinnacle Courses, National Defense University, Washington DC. 

Jessica Strom (PhD 2021) completed her dissertation “Financing Revolution: Adriano Lemmi and the Struggle for Italian Unification“ and continues to teach courses at the UConn Stamford campus.

 

Prizes, Fellowships, and Internships

 

Katie Angelica (PhD candidate) received a 2019 grant from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, a 2020 Short-Term Grant from the New York Public Library, a 2021 Andrew Mellon Grant from the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a 2021 Grant from the Connecticut League of Women Voters — and she has finally been able to starting putting all of them to use in an intense stretch of dissertation research this fall as archives and libraries reopen.

Alex Beckstrand (PhD candidate) was the sole winner of the 2021 Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Naval History Scholarship, an award of $5,000 given by the Naval History and Heritage Command to an active duty commissioned officer in the US Navy or Marine Corps studying the lessons of naval history for the analysis of great power competition. He also had his article on Woodrow Wilson and civil-military relations during the 1916 military expedition into Mexico accepted by the Journal of Military History

Nicole Breault (PhD candidate) was Robert Middlekauff Fellow at the Huntington Library for two months in 2020-2021, as well as Draper Dissertation Fellow at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute. She was co-winner of the inaugural Sandra Rux Prize. For 2021-22, she is the David Center for the American Revolution Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. 

Orlando Deavila Pertuz (PhD 2019) won Honorable Mention for the 2019 Michael Katz Award for Best Dissertation in Urban History. He is now Assistant Professor at the Instituto de Estudio del Caribe, Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia.

Erick Freeman (PhD candidate) is a Dissertation Fellow at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, 2021-22.

Constance Holden (PhD candidate) was an intern with the National Endowment for the Humanities in Summer 2021.  She also won the Brian Bertoti Award for Outstanding Historical Scholarship for her paper, “Black Visibility and Whitened Modernity: Constructing Argentine Nationalism in Caras y Caretas, 1898-1910”, presented at Virginia Tech’s Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Research Conference.

Aimee Loiselle (PhD 2019), won the 2020 Catherine Prelinger Award from the Coordinating Council for Women in History  & 2020 Lerner-Scott Prize in Women’s History from the Organization of American Historians

Frances Martin (PhD candidate) received a 2021 Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Britney Murphy (PhD candidate) was 2021 National Predoctoral Fellow for Humanities Without Walls.

Amy Sopcak-Joseph (PhD 2019), won the 2020 Zuckerman Dissertation Prize in American Studies from the McNeil Center for Early American History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Megan Streit (PhD candidate) received a 2020-21 Boren Fellowship, a 2020 Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and a 2021 Critical Language Scholarship to study Azerbaijani.

Sopcak-Joseph Ph.D. (’19) Wins McNeil Center Dissertation Prize

Amy Sopcak-Joseph2020A hearty congratulations to UConn History Ph.D. (’19) alum, Amy Sopcak-Joseph, for receiving the Zuckerman Dissertation Prize in American Studies from the McNeil Center for Early American History at the University of Pennsylvania. The Zuckerman prize is awarded to “the best dissertation connecting American history (in any period) with literature and/or art… evaluated for the seriousness and originality with which the dissertation engages relationships among history, art and/or literature, the significance of the treatment to scholarship in the field, and the overall quality of the writing.” Sopcak-Joseph’s dissertation, titled “Fashioning American Women: Godey’s Lady’s Book, Female Consumers, and Periodical Publishing in the Nineteenth Century,” wonderfully explored the production, dissemination, content, and reception of an exceptionally popular antebellum American periodical called Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Well done, Amy!

Luisa Arrieta Receives UConn Digital Humanities Fellowship

Luisa Arrieta ProfileWe are pleased to announce that Ph.D. Candidate Luisa Arrieta has received the UConn Greenhouse Studios Diversity Fellowship in Digital Humanities for 2020-2022. Arrieta is one of two doctoral students to receive the Fellowship, which aims “to enhance the academic and professional experience of students from historically underrepresented groups by providing two years of hands-on experience in digital humanities research and method with Greenhouse Studios in lieu of regular teaching assistant duties.” This opportunity will enable Arrieta to further her research interests that relate to cultural nationalism and citizenship, museums and visual narratives, African diaspora, popular culture, and human rights in the Americas.

Danielle Dumaine and Nathan Braccio Recognized by Aetna Awards

The 2020 Aetna Graduate Critical Writing Award recognized the work of two newly minted History Ph.D.s. Danielle Dumaine received 2nd place and Nathan Braccio received an honorable mention. The award is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing and recognizes excellent critical nonfiction composed by a graduate student. Winners are awarded cash prizes and publicly recognized at the annual Aetna Celebration of Student Writing.

 

Ph.D. Student Kathryn Angelica Receives NYPL Fellowship

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Kathryn Angelica who has received a competitive Short-Term Research Fellowship from the New York Public Library (NYPL). Kathryn was awarded the maximum short-term fellowship for a total of 4 weeks between August 2020 and Fall 2021 (shifted due to Covid-19). At the NYPL, she will look at the United States Sanitary Commission records, specifically all the women led branches, including the Women’s Central Relief Association. 

Ph.D. Student Erik Freeman Receives Charles Redd Fellowship

Erik Freeman, doctoral student, History Dept., University of ConnecticutAmong the list of 2020 award recipients of the Brigham Young University (BYU) Charles Redd Center for Western Studies is UConn’s Erik Freeman. With a project titled, “The Mormon International: Communitarian Politics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830–1890,” Freeman received the Charles Redd Fellowship Award in Western American History. He is one of five recipients, and competed against other doctoral students from departments of history, english, political science, and languages and literature.

The award will enable Freeman to spend up to one month researching in the Center’s Special Collections. The Special Collections has 14 full-time curators and more than 9,000 manuscripts. Additionally, the collection houses almost 1 million photographic images, more than 300,000 rare books, and extensive manuscript materials documenting 19th and 20th century Western American history.

Congratulations, Erik!

History Department UCHI 2020-21 Fellows

The History Department is proud to announce that five members of Wood Hall will take part in the UConn Humanities Institute‘s (UCHI) 2020-21 cohort of fellows. Professors Melanie Newport, Helen Rozwadowski, and Sara Silverstein will serve as UCHI Faculty Fellows. Doctoral students Nicole Breault and Shaine Scarminach will join the cohort of UCHI Graduate Dissertation Fellows. Congratulations to you all!

Melanie Newport, Assistant Professor of History, University of ConnecticutMelanie Newport

Department of History

Project Title: This is My Jail:  Reform and Mass Incarceration in Chicago and Cook County

Helen Rozwadowski, associate professor of history, UConn

Helen Rozwadowski

Department of History – Avery Point

Project Title: Science as Frontier: History Hidden in Plain Sight

Sara SilversteinSara Silverstein

Department of History & Human Rights Institute

Project Title: Toward Global Health: A History of International Collaboration

 

Nicole Breault, doctoral student, History Department, UConnNicole Breault

History Department – Draper Dissertation Fellow

Project Title: The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America

Shaine Scarminach, doctoral student, History Department, UConnShaine Scarminach

History Department

Project Title: Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans

Graduate Student Spotlight: Keeping Up With Marc Reyes

Marc Reyes is a History Ph.D. Candidate with research interests spanning Marc Reyes 2019 Picforeign relations history, economic and political development, South Asian studies, and the histories of science and technology. A proud Midwesterner – born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri – Marc recently completed a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship in Delhi, India from 2018-2019, and soon will be returning home to undertake a doctoral fellowship at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Marc’s dissertation “seeks to enable scholars of India, of foreign relations, and of science and technology to better understand how a range of Indians imagined what nuclear energy could mean for their nation’s future.” In addition to his doctoral studies, Marc also serves as an editor for Contingent Magazine. 

In the most literal sense of trying to keep up with Marc and his impressive list of accomplishments, please enjoy the following Graduate Student Spotlight!

 

 

Q: To begin, where are you right now and what are you doing?

A: Right now, I am in Austria. I am spending two weeks in Vienna conducting research at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) archive. This week I am reviewing IAEA Board of Governor reports and official minutes of IAEA Meetings. Next week I turn my attention to the archive’s substantial collection of press clippings and mission reports.

 

Q: From 2018-2019, you were in India on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship. Could you share the impact that this experience had on your research, development of your project, and broader understanding of India.

 

A: The Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship filled in large gaps I had in my research, but also raised a lot of interesting questions and threw a ton of new information (at least to me) my way. At times it can be daunting sifting and making sense of all this research, but more and more I see the people and events that make up each chapter and how I will string everything together to make sense of the larger story. The biggest takeaway from my Fulbright experience was I can see how this project will end and I am excited to get there.

 

As for better understanding India, I had opportunities to visit a few states and see different parts of the country. Experiencing the country up close, you definitely see the differences – in languages, customs, and food  – between north and south India. I was based in Delhi so my knowledge is best regarding the city. Delhi can be an overwhelming place, with lots of people and noise at all hours, but after a while, a familiar rhythm sets in and you start to notice when construction crews start and stop working or when vegetable sellers come around. India is a special place. My family and I look forward to many future visits to see again the wonderful friends we have there.

 

Q: What was your experience working in the role of a representative of the United States, and American academia, through the Fulbright Program? Did this experience resonate with your studies in US foreign policy?

 

A: The Fulbright office, especially the United States-India Educational Foundation (who administers the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship), emphasizes from the beginning of your fellowship the importance of people-to-people diplomacy. One of your jobs while there is to meet people. It’s not hard, just listen and ask questions. It’s the best way to learn about a new place and the people that call it home. This was true at my affiliated university, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). I did a few lectures for the students there, but what was even better was talking to the students there before and after my talks or having a chat over chai. I was happy to talk and learn about their own projects and suggest U.S. scholars or works about their research topics. Even now I’ll message my friends there about a fellowship opportunity that looks promising or a new work they should check out. I feel as though I am a member of two great academic communities, one at UConn and the other at JNU.

 

When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, I had the privilege of visiting the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi a couple times. I saw the diverse and difficult work U.S. diplomats do and it is truly inspiring to see what tackle on any given day. You develop a newfound appreciation for their service and when you’re in India, you feel better knowing they have your back.

 

Q: How have you transitioned out of the Fulbright mindset, and what is next for your project?

 

A: What helped my transition was seeing family and friends again. From India, I flew to Kansas City, Missouri (my hometown) and spent the holidays with family. Then in early January I drove up to Connecticut and caught up with friends. Having a few weeks off was what I needed to recharge and prepare for this latest research trip. After Austria, I will take up a two-month doctoral fellowship at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology and press on writing dissertation chapters.

 

Q: In addition to being a Fulbright fellow and earning more accolades, such as the World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship from the Smith-Richardson Foundation, you also are an editor for Contingent Magazine. What attracted you to Contingent Magazine? What is the most rewarding aspect of being an editor?

Contingent Header A: What attracted me to Contingent Magazine was a feeling that this could be something special and I knew from the start I wanted to be a part of it. I don’t usually have a fear of missing out on something, but I had a strong sense to stay with this project and see where it went. For me, the most rewarding aspect of being an editor is seeing an article go from pitch to publish. It takes time and a lot of work but our contributors produce some great writing. I see my role as helping good ideas become great articles and I want every piece to find its audience. I’m always pleased whenever our writers tell us that they have been trying to publish their piece for a while but hadn’t found the right place for it until they discovered Contingent. I love that we can be the home for the piece that means so much to you.

 

I must add I am incredibly fortunate that my Contingent colleagues are Bill Black and Erin Bartram. Even when I was in India, we made our editorial triad work and I think the magazine is better for it. I have not known Bill as long, but Erin and I met at UConn. She is a history department alumnus and her dissertation defense was the first I ever attended. I still remember her students showing up to it, wearing t-shirts with quotations from her dissertation. Years later I remain amazed at the type of person that inspires people like that. We stayed in touch and I was honored when she asked if I wanted to be a part of what became Contingent. It feels great to build something and I’ll be forever proud of our plucky magazine. I encourage folks, especially UConn alumni, to check out the magazine. We publish features, reviews, and shorter pieces, including profiles of historians and the work they do. We believe that history is for everyone and that people are hungry for all types of historical topics. If you check us out and like what we publish, then share our articles and spread the good word about us. We exist entirely on donor-support and have built the magazine one donation at a time.

 

Q: Finally, could you share your favorite research find from the past year, and why?

 

A: It’s tough to say a favorite, but one amusing find that stands out is this document between P.N. Haksar, who was Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s chief advisor, and U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles. The story goes that in 1967, Gandhi sent birthday wishes to the leader of North Vietnam and the U.S. was furious she sent a congratulatory message to a leader whose forces were fighting U.S. troops. There was also a rumor that she only did this to needle the U.S. who had placed strings on aid to India and demonstrate to her citizens that she could take U.S. assistance but not be a lackey to the United States. I had come across passing references to the incident in books, but the source was either another book or hard to decipher. Sure enough, the P.N. Haksar papers at the Nehru Library in New Delhi confirmed the story. Haksar told Bowles that India had sent Minh a similar message the year before and nobody from the U.S. had complained about it. Haksar described it as a perfunctory message with language they often used when wishing happy birthday to any foreign leader. The episode revealed how a single message could complicate U.S.-Indian relations and even birthday greetings have a history of their own.

 

Marc Slideshow 1Marc Slideshow 2Marc Slideshow 3Marc Slideshow 4Marc Slideshow 5Marc Slideshow 6Marc Slideshow 7Marc Slideshow 8Marc Slideshow 9Marc Slideshow 10