Graduate Research

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

PhD Candidate Lauren Stauffer Presents at NATO Conference

Lauren Stauffer, doctoral student, History Dept, University of ConnecticutOn December 6th, Ph.D. candidate Lauren Stauffer presented at a one-day conference titled “NATO: Past and Present“. The conference was held at the Sir Michael Howard Centre of King’s College London, and co-sponsored by Cardiff University and the Wilson Center. The event “brought together leading scholars of NATO from Europe, Canada, and the United States to evaluate the balance sheet of the alliance’s 70 year-history.” Stauffer’s conference paper, titled “NATO and the Iran-Iraq War: How “Out-of-Area” Concerns Paved the Way to a Post-Cold War Future,” featured research from her dissertation that draws on recently de-classified NATO and government documents.

UConn History Faculty and Graduate Student UNH-Mellon Grant Winners

UConn UNH Grant Winners

UConn History Associate Professors Fiona Vernal and Walter Woodward, and graduate Student Megan Fountain, are among the recipients of the UNH-Mellon seed grant. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Center for the Humanities’ annual Summer Institute is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to “train humanists to work in the public realm and embrace community engagement”. Winners of the 2019 seed grants include 14 graduate students and faculty members ranging from across New England.

Below are the listed projects of the UConn recipients:

 

Fiona VernalUConn Associate Professor of History
A Caribbean Museum
Community-based archival collecting to lead to an oral history initiative including one-week traveling pop-up exhibits, a migration exhibit to launch the Caribbean Museum, and salons (panel discussions) about public housing, mobility, and migration
Community Partners: 
Connecticut Humanities Council (CHC), The Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library, The West Indian Social Club (WISC), and El Instituto: The Institute of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American Studies (ELIN) at UConn, Hartford Public Schools, CREC (Capital Region Education Council)

 

Walter WoodwardUConn Associate Professor of History and Connecticut State Historian
Doing Public Humanities: An Audio Field Guide
A multi-episode web-based podcast as an audio roadmap into how to practice engaged public humanities
Community Partners: case history participants (faculty doing public humanities)

 

Megan FountainUConn graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies
The Guatemala-Connecticut Community History Project
Documenting and archiving oral histories of Guatemalan immigrants and their families in Guatemala
Community Partners: A committee of Guatemalan immigrants and community activists including Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA), a grassroots organization; a team of public historians and New Haven Public Schools teachers; Columbia Center for Oral History Research; and Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change.

Scarminach Shares History of Seabed Mining in Edge Effects

Shaine Scarminach, doctoral student, History Department, UConnUConn Ph.D. Candidate Shaine Scarminach recently contributed to Edge Effects, a digital magazine associated with the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His article, titled “Diving into the History of Seabed Mining” takes a critical look at seabed mining by historicizing the practice and questioning the industry’s current claims. Scarminach aptly raises the questions: “Can seabed mining help reduce economic inequality in the world, or will it merely open another frontier of resource extraction? Can the practice be safely pursued, or will it necessarily harm marine ecosystems already impacted by global warming, overfishing, and pollution? Can hauling minerals from the sea floor help communities adapt to climate change, or will it only create further obstacles?” 

Scarminach’s dissertation research explores changes in the human use of the oceans, particularly during the Cold War and decolonization. For more information regarding Shaine’s work, please click here.