Frank Costigliola’s New George Kennan Biography Garners Praise

Frank Costigliola, professor of history, UConn

University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History, Frank Costigliola‘s recently published biography Kennan: A Life between Worlds. His work offers a new picture of historian and diplomat George Kennan, whose foreign policy of containment of the Soviet Union fueled the Cold War, but who later would spend the next fifty years trying to end it.

Read about it in Michael Hirsh’s Foreign Policy piece, “Is Cold War Inevitable?” and also in Foreign Affairs, “George Kennan’s Warning on Ukraine.”

Visit KPFA to watch his interview with Mitch Jeserich on Letters and Politics, “George Kennan: The Cold War Architect Who Opposed the War.”

Or check out the video below.

Jeffrey Ogbar Participates in NYT ad “Protect Black Art”

UConn History Professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Popular Music, Jeffrey Ogbar participated in a two page ad that appeared in both the New Jeffrey Ogbar HeadshotYork Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled “Protect Black Art.” The ad calls for restrictions on artists’ lyrics and other forms of creative expression including visual arts, film, writing, etc. from being used against defendants in courtroom and emphasizes their right to creative freedom and expression. Prof. Ogbar joins artists, scholars, organizations and companies in the call for protective legislation that allows artists to express their creativity without the threat of it being used against them in the courtroom. The ad was published in the New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on November 1, 2022.

Prof. Ogbar’s scholarship focuses on 20th century African American history in the United States with a focus on Black nationalism and social movements. He has written on varied subjects including the New Negro Renaissance, mass incarceration, civil rights struggles, and hip-hop.


With American Democracy at Stake, Manisha Sinha Provides Hope

Manisha Sinha, professor of historyUConn History Professor Manisha Sinha draws connections between the conditions leading up to the 1866 midterm election and the 2022 midterm elections in her piece for CNN, “Why I hope 2022 will be another 1866,” to provide both context and hope when American democracy is at stake. Prof. Sinha explores similar themes between the 1866 and upcoming midterms including a rise in armed paramilitary groups, racial violence, and the dangerous attempts at power grabs. It is her hope that 2022 will be another 1866 and that Americans will rise to defend democracy as they had in 1866. Read the full article on CNN.


Prof. Manisha Sinha Reflects on Teaching Black History Month

Manisha Sinha, professor of historyThis Black History Month, the legislative and political attacks against teaching the histories of race and racism have forced history educators to reckon with what and how they teach in their classrooms. In an Axios article, journalist Russell Contreras zooms into the legal terrain that restricts teachers from teaching students about the complex and violent realities of the past.  35 states have taken legal steps to limit how teachers discuss racism and sexism, according to Contreras. In some states, Contreras points out, teachers “may introduce Malcolm X, but not read his speeches” or “point out Rosewood, Florida or Tulsa, Oklahoma,” but “not talk about the racial atrocities that occurred there.” Many educators will still go forward with their Black History Month lesson plans, while others decry anything related to critical race theory as a departure from the core tenets of morality that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. espoused.

Much of the criticism against critical race theory, which began as a legal framework for understanding patterns of systemic racism, relates to concerns around white students’ affective responses to the histories of slavery.  Axios turned to  UConn History Professor Manisha Sinha, a scholar of slavery and abolition,  to describe the influence of these laws on student learning. Sinha explains that “there is no reason why a white student can’t identify with the abolitionist or the civil rights leader rather than a slaveholder.” “These laws supposedly protecting white students from guilt say more about the authors of the law than the students,” Sinha elaborated.

Black History Month began as Negro History Week in 1926, partially as a strategy for teaching Black history in public schools. Carter G. Woodson, the historian behind this celebration of Black history, created Negro History Week as his organization, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, responded to the need to expand political and cultural consciousness about Black experiences. In 1976, Negro History Week became Black History Month in response to the wide-sweeping cultural and political movements that advanced the causes and goals of freedom. Fore more on teaching Black History Month within the current contested landscape, read “New Rules are limiting how teachers can teach Black History Month,” where Professor Sinha contributes her thoughts alongside those of analysts and educators.


History Professors Testify about Connecticut’s Colonial Past

On Thursday, November 18, 2021–the Thursday before Thanksgiving–State Historian and UConn Professor Walt Woodward and Professor Manisha Sinha gave testimony before the Connecticut state legislature on the John Mason statue at the State Capitol. John Mason, considered a founder of the Connecticut colony, set fire to a Pequot community in 1637, claiming the lives of at least 400 people. Anthropologists, members of the Mohegan, Eastern Pequot, Mashantucket tribes, and a descendant of  John Mason convened for over 2 hours to discuss the removal of his statue. This discussion examined  the complexities of history, memory, symbolism, and the violence integral to the story of the making of the United States.  Professor Woodward and Professor Sinha grappled with the meaning of the statues t for the teaching and remembering of  history. Both are cited in this excellent CT Mirror article that recaps the state session. Prof. Walt Woodward is also quoted in the December 11 issue of The Economist, in the article “How the culture wars can show what’s right with America.”


Prof. Micki McElya Contributes to NYT Article

The New York Times has once again turned to UConn History Professor Micki McElya for her insights into the national politics of mourning, memorials, and memory. In a recent piece on The Tomb of the Unknowns–scheduled for public opening for the first time in 73 years this week–Prof. McElya indicates that  “Arlington became a site that every single American can claim a relationship to,” in large part because of the tomb.  In the article, Prof. McElya details the debates about veteran burial and remembrance, culminating in this tomb functioning as a political symbol imbued with ever-changing meanings about military service and leadership. Read more in the  excellent NYT article and consider taking a look at Prof. McElya’s award-winning book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery.