Student Achievement

Graduate Student Spotlight: Danielle Dumaine

On Tuesday, February 19th, Ph.D. Candidate Danielle Dumaine will be presenting at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute as part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender. Her paper is titled “Sisterhood of Debt: Feminist Credit Unions, Community, and Women’s Liberation.” For more information, click here

 

1. Would you please share some of your findings from your upcoming presentation at MHS paper and elaborate on how this topic relates to your dissertation?

The presentation on Tuesday is based on a pre-circulated paper that can be accessed by attendees. I begin by tracking how women (particularly single/divorced women and non-white women) were discriminated against by the banks and the credit industry after World War II. For example, many banks would not accept a women’s income in a loan application if she was married. Another big problem was that many divorced women had no credit in their name or bad credit from their husband. This could make it incredibly difficult to do basic things like renting an apartment or buying a car. The paper then gives a brief history of the law that changed that, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), but concludes that the law had a lot of shortcomings and almost no enforcement mechanisms. Basically, if you thought you were discriminated against you had to figure out which one of a dozen agencies to report the incident to (this has since changed). It put a large burden on consumers to be experts in lending laws and government agencies. That is where Feminist Credit Unions (FCUs) come in. Twenty-nine FCUs opened between 1974 and 1979. Connecticut had an FCU in New Haven and Hartford. You can see the rest here. These credit unions operated on the idea that feminists needed a place to “recycle” money within the movement to fund feminist projects. Other FCUs went further and said that women were good credit risks because they were women and lent out money accordingly. Now as you can probably guess, most of these projects failed. This type of community credit union takes a lot of work, time, and money to maintain. Really, the central issue for most FCUs became the question of what to do with delinquent accounts. Do you take a fellow woman to court? Repossess the car she needs to drive to work/daycare/etc.? This caused a lot of really painful fights. The paper ends with a discussion of how mainstream banks and credit card companies used the language of feminism to appeal to women customers once they figured out that getting a bunch of women into debt could be profitable. Sorry to end on a cynical note.

My main conclusions in relation to community and women’s liberation are that FCUs represent a level of coalition-based organizing and regional organizing that historians really haven’t fully acknowledged. Many of these projects brought together radical feminists, liberal feminists, Black feminists, and more for this shared goal of making loans accessible to women. It is also a history of women’s imagination. The women who started these FCUs wanted to rewrite the rules to banking and lending. They wanted to see applicants as whole beings, not a series of risk factors punched into a so-called “neutral” credit scoring system. Their solutions were often really fraught and didn’t work, but I think they are worth spending some time looking at.

 

2. How did you become interested in the life and work of poet Diane di Prima for your dissertation? 

I took Professor Ronna Johnson’s class on the Beat Generation during my senior year at Tufts and we read some of Diane di Prima’s work. When I got to UConn, I met with Melissa Watterworth Batt at the Dodd Center to discuss the collections and to see if there was something I would want to use for my 5102 research paper. She suggested di Prima’s diary from Timothy Leary’s Millbrook Commune. She said that not many researchers seemed interested in it. At the time I thought I was going to write a dissertation on the women’s liberation movement so it wasn’t a great fit, but I’m nosy so working with a diary seemed like fun. Once I started reading I knew that it was a really special object. So I shifted gears and here we are!

 

3. In addition to pursuing a Ph.D. in History, you also have undertaken a certificate in Feminist Studies from the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. How has this interdisciplinary approach impacted your research, influenced your teaching, and possibly challenged and/or expanded upon the work of historians?

It seems to me that most historians do at least some reading outside of their field and doing a certificate is a great way, as a student, to gain a solid footing in a discipline that you might want to read/borrow from/contribute to in your work. There are so many smart people doing great work out there that I don’t want to limit myself to just reading in history. In my dissertation, I use work from scholars of literature, queer theory, political science, critical race studies, and more. Taking certificate classes is also a great way to network with grad students from other departments and learn about their training/methods and to make friends.

 

4. If you could teach any course, what would it be and why?

I made up a syllabus for a job application this fall called “A History of ‘Cool’ in Postwar America” that I think would be really fun. I’d also like to teach a course on women’s labor history since the Civil War. And “Gender and Sexuality in U.S. History.” I have a whole list on my computer.

 

Danielle Dumaine research trip

Danielle on a recent archival trip to California where she visited: the California Historical Society; The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University; GLBT Historical Society Archives. 

Graduate Student Spotlight: Luisa Arrieta

For the summer of 2018, Luisa participated in the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Latino Museum Studies Program, which seeks out Latinx scholars whose scholarship connects the academy and museum’s work. With the objective of preparing the young scholars to work in museums that represent the Latino community and experience, the program places the graduate students in positions across the Smithsonian museums. Luisa worked directly with the Center and its Media Director, Melissa Carrillo, in a project called Latinos in the 21th Century: a Digital Experience. Luisa’s work involved: analyzing digital experiences and installations in D.C. museums to determine their public-engagement strategies; deconstructing the pre-phase of the Latino Gallery narrative content to unveil the ways in which it tells the Latino experience in the U.S; and developing a proposal for the entrance installation to the first Smithsonian Latino Gallery.

 

1) Could you describe what you observed in other installations and how the Smithsonian’s first Latino Gallery will compare?

The Smithsonian museums are attempting to engage more with their audiences while offering a more inclusive picture of the American nation. The National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of the American Indian represent, for me, the biggest efforts in that sense with exhibits such as UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar and Americans, respectively.  Nevertheless, I think the Latino Gallery will be pioneering the museum field when it comes to turning the audience from spectators to actors. By linking interactive installations with more inclusive museum practices, installations at the Latino Gallery will favor individuals as making-history agents whose history is worthy of being told within the museum space.

 

2) What skills from our doctoral program did you utilize during this internship?

Critical thinking. As a doctoral student, you are constantly asking yourself and your colleagues about the work you do, the role of human actors, and the importance of the historical context..

 

3) How did you hear about this opportunity?

My advisor, Mark Healey, sent to me an email about the Latino Museum Studies Program. Honestly, I thought it would be a long shot, but he was right. The program was perfect for me and I really loved the experience.

 

4) Could you expand upon your previous experience researching and/or working with underrepresented groups in Colombia’s national museum?

As a teenager, I worked with a UNESCO project that sought to facilitate the access of Afro-descendant people to historic places and monuments. My home city, Cartagena, is a touristic Caribbean center so being black and not having money really reduces your chances to enjoy the historic spaces that tourists can. However, while the project facilitated access, Afro-descendants and Indigenous were still not included in those stories or places. This experience impacted my undergraduate thesis on land legal cases between indigenous groups, white settlers, and the Spanish Crown prior to the Independence struggles of the 1820’s. I was interested in demonstrating how the lack of inclusion of indigenous groups within the national history is linked to their support of the Spanish Crown during that period.

At UConn, I have moved onto the representation of these groups – Afro-descendants, Indigenous, and women – within the National Museum in Colombia. I consider the objects and portraits introduced to the museum in 1880 and I argue that this process represents the simultaneous inclusion and exclusion of these groups. Many of the paintings have been visually modified to fit the image of the nation that the Colombian elites wished to portray. I seek to showcase that process so these groups, today, can understand how they have been pushed out of many places and stories, and maybe they would seek to regain them. Thus, my work has come full-circle from my teen years.

 

5) How did this opportunity impact the way you conceptualize your dissertation and/or future career? Would you be interested in working with the Smithsonian in the future? 

The Latino Museum Studies Program helped me realize that there are spaces that are perfect for me in regards to what I want to do, both academically and personally. Specifically, I am interested in cultural work and public engagement, in reconnecting academy and community. I think that museums are perfect spaces for that. This is reflected in my dissertation that will utilize a comparative perspective to analyze the opening of the first gallery at the National Museum of American History to similar ones in Colombia. Regarding my future career, I would definitely consider working with the Smithsonian.

Luisa Arrieta Presentation

Luisa Arrieta Smithsonian

Doctoral Student Wins Communal Studies Association Award

Doctoral student Erik Freeman has won the Communal Studies Association’s 2018 publications award for “Best Article.” His article, “‘True Christianity’: The Flowering and Fading of Mormonism and Romantic Socialism in Nineteenth-Century France” appeared in the April 2018 issue of The Journal of Mormon History. Erik’s work was praised for demonstrating “the groundbreaking connections between socialism and the LDS movement.” He will receive the award at the Association’s annual meeting in October. Congratulations, Erik!

8/28 – 11th Annual History Graduate Student Research Conference

Conference Schedule – Monday, August 28, 207

All sessions held in the Class of ’47 Room in the Homer Babbidge Library


Session A: 1:15-2:45 pm

Panel One: Governance, Institutions, and Movements in New England
Chair: Danielle Dumaine

Nicole Breault, “Peace and Good Order in the Streets”: The Work of the Constable’s Watch in Eighteenth-Century Boston

Abdullah Alhatem, “The Domestic Slave Trade in New England”

Britney Murphy, “The Fall of Mount Trashmore and the Rise of Community Activism: Environmental Justice and the Politics of Inclusion, Bridgeport, CT (1991-Present)”

Commentator: Matthew Guariglia


Coffee Break – 2:45-3:00

Coffee, tea, assorted cookies


Session B: 3:00-4:45 pm

Panel Two: Power and Influence in World Affairs
Chair: Maggie Stack

Erik Freeman, “‘True Christianity’: The Flowering and Fading of Mormonism and Romantic Socialism in Nineteenth-Century France”

Frances Martin, “Who’s Watching the Clock? Rise of the Doomsday Clock as a Pop Culture Phenomenon”

David Evans, “False Harvest: U.S. Foreign Relations and the Dream of Agricultural Power during the 1970s”

Lauren Stauffer, “From the North to the South Atlantic: NATO and the Falklands War”

Commentator: Gabrielle Westcott

 

Keynote Address:  5:00 pm

Jonathan Chu
Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Boston
Editor, New England Quarterly

“Wrestling with the Devil: An Historian Becomes an Editor”

 

A Conversation with Professor Blanca Silvestrini

L-R: Jorell Melendez Badillo, PhD candidate in History; Dr. Blanca Silvestrini, History Department
Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, PhD candidate in History, with Professor Blanca Silvestrini, History Department

Blanca G. Silvestrini, an attorney and historian, who recently retired from the History Department after 42 years in academics, has spent her professional life reaching out beyond the Ivory Tower and the courtroom to students, refugee children and repressed women, among other groups.

This spring, Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, a Ph.D. candidate in history, had the opportunity to talk to Professor Silvestrini about her career and her plans for the future.

As she told Meléndez-Badillo, in the interview “my heart beat history, my thought is legally oriented and I have always aspired to reach out to people, whether inside or outside of the classroom.”

Silvestrini will continue her active research life into Caribbean culture and society with an “emphasis on people, real people living in the region but also people on the move.”

Silvestrini received a doctorate in history from SUNY-Albany; her interests in law and society in Puerto Rico led her to earn a law degree and J.S.M. from Stanford University.

The two academic degrees mesh perfectly with Silvestrini’s philosophy and research focuses.

“My teaching and research have gone hand in hand,” she told Meléndez-Badillo. “I approach law as a historical product and research how it affects change in society. “ She gave as an example her course in Latinos/as and Human Rights in which she emphasized changes, influences, contradictions, successes and failures of social movements.

She said teaching, which she began at age 26 at the University of Puerto Rico, sustains her. Despite administrative jobs in academia, she has always returned to the classroom.

She defined teaching as a “reciprocal process” in which students and faculty give to each other. Young people, she said, “force you to think in a different way … (they) anchor you in the present, ask questions you hadn’t thought about and drive your creativity to a new level.”

She reminds her students that young people created the civil rights movements and have been leaders of their times.

In the classroom, her mantra was “history is about real people,” always encouraging students to think of themselves, their families and their communities “as part of history.”

Predictably, a teacher first led Silvestrini to pursue history – a turning point in her life that should remind all students of the value of the core curriculum. She had entered undergraduate studies as a math major but an opening in a Renaissance history course, required to take, turned into a breakthrough experience when, knowing her interest in science, her professor suggested she read a biography of Leonardo da Vinci.

It was the first “real” history book she had ever read and its impact was so great she switched majors to history. That professor became “my role model,” she said. “Beyond content, he taught me how to be a historian.”

It is a role Silvestrini has taken on for countless undergraduate and graduate students, who, like herself, she has required to diversify their studies by reading novels and ethnographies and analyzing films, legal cases and statistics.

Her focus on interdisciplinary studies was intensified as part of a faculty group that helped create the UConn Human Rights Institute, founded in 2003 by eight Liberal Arts and Sciences academic departments and the Schools of Business and Law to advance the study and teaching of human rights. It now has healthy major and minor programs.

Professor Silvestrini has “mentored a generation of historians, social scientists and legal scholars,” wrote Meléndez-Badillo in the introduction to his interview with her.

“Working closely with her at the University of Connecticut has transformed my conception of the uses of historical scholarship can have within and beyond the ivory tower,” he continued.

A review of Silvestrini’s scholarship and publications makes clear the breadth and depth of her interests.

Among her books, in Spanish and English, are studies of female resistance, the politics and violence and criminality of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as well as the history of that region of the hemisphere. Her countless journal articles take long looks at research resources in Puerto Rico, Latino culture and civil rights, working conditions for women and the Puerto Rican legal system, among other topics.

She is also a practicing attorney and serves as a counselor-at-law and consultant attorney in cases related to immigration and Puerto Rican family and inheritance law for a Cambridge, Mass.-based law firm.

And although she is leaving the classroom for now, Silvestrini’s creative mind continues to lead her in new directions of research and activism.

These fields include legally representing Central American refugee children, health and citizenship in Puerto Rico (the subject of her latest book), and, in a unique avenue of investigation, the cuisine of Puerto Rico at the turn of the 20th century when profound cultural and societal changes were taking place.

“The question brings together the social and economic transformations from an agricultural to an industrial society, the impact of the transition fro Spanish to American colonials, the incorporation of women in the work force … and the expansion of the state powers into education, public health and urbanization,” she told Meléndez-Badillo. As weighty as these investigations sound, Silvestrini also said she plans to have some “fun” with the project by finding recipes and collecting stories.

How entertaining and educational it will be for all historians to read the results of this undertaking. Thank you, Blanca Silvestrini, for your continued mentoring and work in the field of history.

 

Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, a PhD candidate in History, interviewed his advisor Professor Blanca Silvestrini in Spring 2016. Meléndez-Badillo is accomplished in his own right: he is a 2016-17 recipient of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.

Terese Karmel, Department of Journalism, wrote this article.

Graduating Undergraduate Honors Scholars’ Research Covers the Globe

Of the many History majors who were graduated on May 8, twenty-two History majors graduated either as Honors Scholars or with Latin honors – some with both.

Five Honors Scholars shared their thesis abstracts with the department: one evaluates the impact of President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress on US foreign policy toward Chile; another examines the reversal of fortune for the English monarchy in the 13th century; and another investigates a possible connection between queer/queercore zines of the 1980s-2000s and radical queer politics. Another thesis analyzes the Kurdish nationalist movement in the 20th century, while another scrutinizes the impact of the Enrollment Act of 1863, the first national draft in United States history.

 

Harrison Fregeau '16, undergrad honors History majorHarrison Fregeau

Abstract: Facing the threat of communism spreading throughout Latin America after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, President Kennedy enacted a sweeping re-imagination of US regional foreign aid: The Alliance for Progress. Designed to thwart the spread of communism through improving continent-wide economic and social development, it represented a peak in US ambitions to affect policy changes abroad. This paper combines an analysis of US foreign policy towards Latin America, with more specific foci on Chile, US-Chile bilateral relations and the Chilean housing sector. Ultimately, the paper examines the relations between the two governments, particularly during the presidency of Eduardo Frei, an ambitious, pro-US reformer. Using housing policy as a case study, the paper examines how reformist aims contributed to counterproductive results, including the first democratic election of a Marxist president in the Western hemisphere.

 

Joseph Fusco

Joseph Fusco, History BA, Honors Scholar
Joseph Fusco

Abstract: After the reigns of Henry II and Richard I, the prestige of the English monarchy was at an unparalleled high. The kingdom owned large stretches of land in western France and after Richard’s prominent role in the Third Crusade the monarchy could scarcely be more respected. In the beginning of the 13th century the kingdom was ruled first by King John, and then by Henry III. Despite the power of their predecessors, both kings saw a massive downturn in their authority. The barons of England were constantly rebelling and they stripped much of the power away from the crown, until at one point the king was little more than a puppet with his son Edward held hostage and Magna Carta signed and sealed to preserve future limits on the King’s power. Many historians both then and now attribute this to the weaknesses of John and Henry III. However, while this was certainly a major factor, my research has uncovered an underlying theme of greed for power on behalf of the English nobility that I believe exceeds any weaknesses the monarchs had. This paper identifies how and why the English nobility stole power from the king, and to what degree the nobility were fighting for their own glory, and not the glory of their country.

 

Adam Kocurek

Adam Kocurek, History BA, Honors Scholar
Adam Kocurek

Abstract: In an effort to further historicize queer anarchist politics in the 20th century, this thesis worked to establish a connection between the queer/queercore zines of the 1980s-2000s and radical queer politics. Zines from the Queer Zine Archive Project database were closely examined and compared in an attempt to distill the radical politics that manifested in the space of queer punk, homopunk, and queercore. Through an exploration of these artifacts, it became evident that the radical leftist politics of the early Gay Liberation movement were transformed and founded renewed invigoration in the queercore scene, wherein authors expressed their thoughts and feelings on topics ranging from capitalism, homonormatism, racism, and normative gay integrationalist and assimilationist politics aimed at normative liberal moves towards citizenship.

 

David Luchs

“A State Denied: Kurdish Nationalism and the Problems of Ethnic Coordination”

David Luchs, History BA, Honors Scholar
David Luchs

Abstract: In this paper, I examine the history of the Kurdish nationalist movement in the 20th century. I propose that Kurdish nationalist movements that have the ability to encourage Kurds to self-identify along ethnic lines will have the most success in attracting support and achieving their goals. As a result, countries like Iraq where there is no unified sense of national identity will foster stronger Kurdish national movements. On the other hand, countries like Turkey where the state can counter Kurdish identity will be able to resist the demands of even strong Kurdish movements such as the PKK, which limits its support base by identifying itself as an ideological as well as an ethnic movement. In particular, states like Iran which successfully foster non-ethnic identification are successful in dissuading Kurds from joining Kurdish nationalist movement. This research suggests that ethnic nationalist movements which have a purely ethnic appeal for support are most likely to succeed, while those that also try to assert other messages (religious, ideological, social, etc.) are less likely.

 

Melissa Traub

Melissa Traub, History BA, Honors Scholar
Melissa Traub

Abstract: As recruitment slowly dwindled as the Civil War dragged on, the North was forced to pass the Enrollment Act of 1863, the first national draft in United States history. For an already unstable nation, the national draft did little to heal the divides that split the country. The policies of substitution and commutation led to great resentment, eventually sparking the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. To many Union soldiers, drafted men and substitutes were “unscrupulous men” who lied, deserted, and shirked their duty to their country. Other volunteers however, urged their loved ones to escape the draft and to support the war effort from home. My thesis examines and analyzes the thoughts and attitudes of these Union soldiers, recorded in their diaries and letters, giving us great insight into the average soldier’s opinion on recruitment and the draft, a view that has often been overshadowed by the public’s.

2016 Commencement: Four Graduate with History PhDs

Three of the History Department's 2016 PhD graduates.Doctoral dissertations must offer original contributions to knowledge and understanding. For historians this involves not only identifying fresh topics and source materials but exercising the diligence and imagination to reconstruct past lives and circumstances from necessarily fragmentary evidence. Their reward is to uncover unknown or forgotten aspects of the past, or to offer new and surprising perspectives on familiar subjects.

This past May, four scholars were awarded PhDs by the History Department, a number that should make a small liberal arts department very proud.

Two of these graduate students shed light on a pair of women who broke tradition and forged new paths personally and politically, another focused on the revelations of character and piety in the diary of an 18th century Congregational minister who despite inner doubts, brought peace to his flock. The dissertation of the fourth student examines the political, economic and cultural relationship between the United States and a region of Southern Italy over several centuries.

 

In her dissertation titled, “Janet Minot Sedgwick II and the World of American Catholic Converts, Erin Bartram, 2016 History Ph.D1820-1890,” Erin Bartram traces the history of the controversial conversion to Catholicism of Sedgwick. Raised by an elite New England Unitarian family. Sedgwick, who was born in New York City, found friendship and emotional support through her association with other female converts. Despite her family’s indifference (they eventually accepted her conversion) and what Bartram said were priests whose ideas “about gender and authority” conflicted with her own, Sedgwick found happiness and comfort with other converts and eventually worked to establish a Catholic school.

 

 

Allison Horrocks, 2016 History Ph.DThe woman studied by graduate student Allison B. Horrocks had a different, though equally groundbreaking life. Flemmie Kittrell (1904-1980) was a pioneer in the effort to establish the legitimacy of the study of home economics. The first African American woman to earn a PhD in that field, Kittrell taught the subject at many black institutions. But her work, according to Horrocks’ research, did not begin and end on college campuses. Kittrell developed home economics programs abroad. As the dissertation, titled “”Good Will Ambassador with a Cookbook,” points out, because of Kittrell’s accomplishments, her work should be viewed as providing a new understanding of women’s activism, gender politics and the legitimacy of the field of home economics in higher education and politics.

 

Anthony Antonucci’s dissertation examines the evolution of the relationship between the Mezzogiorno region of southern Italy (centered around the city of Naples) and the United State, dating back to 1785 when Thomas Jefferson was U.S. Minister to France, through author Herman Melville’s visit to Italy in 1857, six years after the publication of “Moby Dick.” The exchange of goods and ideas between the two regions “exerted a substantive influence on the economic and cultural development of both countries,” he writes of his thesis titled in part, “Americans and the Mezzogiorno: United States Relations with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.” Though largely overlooked, the examination of how Americans and southern Italians viewed and related to each other “offers a larger understanding of both cultures” of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

 

The depth and breadth of historical research becomes even clearer when one considers the dissertation Linda Meditz, 2016 History Ph.Dof Linda Meditz who chose to do a close examination of the life of Stephen Williams, through his own words. Titled “Captive: Piety and Ministry in the Diary and Life of Stephen Williams,” Meditz provides a close reading and analysis of Williams’ 4,000 page diary, which starts in1715 when he had just graduated from Harvard and ends in 1782, a week prior to his death. Though other scholars have concentrated on Williams’ comments on events of the period, Meditz focuses on the personal aspects of his inner piety and his belief that he was inadequate for the spiritual life. The diary, which Meditz calls “a hybrid literary form,” because of its mix of styles and materials, served as a “spiritual discipline,” through which the pastor looked into his soul and dealt with his self-doubts.

 

So there you have it: Four commendable scholarly works that take readers from international cities to the innermost workings of an individual’s soul. The results represent years of study, research, writing and rewriting by the four new PhDs, who have brought pride to their department and faculty mentors, and enlightenment to the field of history.

by Terese Karmel
Department of Journalism

Helen Stec (’18) Awarded SURF Grant

Helen Stec ('18 History) and Charlie Smart ('18) at the UConn Archives. Photo credit: Peter Morenus.
Helen Stec (’18) and Charlie Smart (’18) at the UConn Archives. Photo credit: Peter Morenus/UConn Photo.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards support University of Connecticut full-time undergraduate students in summer research or creative projects.

SURF awards are available to students in all majors at all UConn campuses. SURF project proposals are reviewed by a faculty committee representing various Schools and Colleges, and SURF award recipients are chosen through a competitive process.

Helen Stec ’18 received a SURF Grant for work on a project titled “Battle from the Homefront: How Two Northern Women Helped Fight the Civil War.” Her faculty mentor is Professor Peter Baldwin.

Stec was also featured in a UConn Today article in April, “Campus Radio Tells Story of Storrs.

UPDATE: Helen’s research at the Mark Twain House, as part of her SURF grant, was featured in a UConn Today article in August, “A Summer with Mark Twain.”

Elena Boushée (’17) Recipient of Summer Research Funding

Distance view of Paris, featuring Eiffel Tower
By Wladyslaw (Taxiarchos228) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia

Elena Boushée has been awarded funding to pursue research in France in support of her honors thesis, tentatively titled “The Path to Legalized Abortion in France: A History of Reproductive Rights in French Political, Cultural and Social Life from 1967-1975.”

From Elena:

“I plan to go to France in the summer of 2016 to research my senior honors thesis, which will focus on the events leading up to the 1975 legalization of abortion in France. Between the legalization of contraceptive methods in 1967 and the enactment of the Veil laws of 1975, the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes was born out of the May 1968 revolutions, and second-wave feminism in France began. This research will look at the ways in which these movements, in combination with the events that unfolded in the late 1960s and 1970s, shaped French understandings of women’s bodies’ and women’s participation in the public sphere, and how these attitudes and understandings led to the 1975 legislation. I will also be examining the significance of class on the enactment, enforcement, and eventual destruction of the pre-1975 laws restricting reproductive rights.

This research will consider a few events in particular, including the highly publicized and controversial court case in Bobigny, in the northeast suburbs of Paris, in 1972. The case garnered widespread attention as existentialist feminist Simone de Beauvoir took to the stand for the defense, claiming that she had had an abortion but had not been prosecuted because of her wealth and social status. I plan to investigate how abortion policy in France previous to 1975 disproportionately may have targeted underprivileged women whose voices did not hold political, economic or social sway.

To research this project fully, I need to go to Paris in order to access a number of collections uniquely available at the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand and the Bibliothèque Nationale. I also plan to go to the Université d’Angers, which has a renowned feminist archive. I plan to stay for one week, to photocopy and photograph these materials. These archives are not digitized and so the collections are not available in the United States. I spent the last full academic year (2014-2015) studying in Paris. I reached a high level of proficiency in the French language while abroad. This will allow me to conduct in-depth research in the French-language archival materials in Paris and Angers. This research project will be a valuable contribution to the humanities. It works at the intersection of a number of fields, including women’s history, the history of the body, the history of post-war France and the history of reproductive rights. I will examine how reproductive rights in France came to be so important not only politically, but also culturally and socially. I will explore the allegedly discriminatory abortion laws in France, and how these became a public concern with the “Manifeste de 343” and the trial at Bobigny. In order to create a more comprehensive understanding of how these and previous events such as the May 1968 revolutions lead to the legalization of abortion, I will study a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to understand the relationship between women’s bodies’ and French life and politics at the time.”

4/29 – History Prize Day Celebrates Student Achievements

The History Department again celebrated outstanding student achievement on Friday, April 29th in the annual History Prize Day Ceremony and Phi Alpha Theta Initiation with students, faculty, staff, donors, family and friends. With the generous support of the UConn Foundation and our donors, eighteen scholarships, prizes, and fellowships were awarded to sixteen deserving undergraduate and graduate students with remarks from faculty nominators and presenters. Eight new students were also inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honors Society for 2016, followed by keynote address “Facts n’ Stuff: Why History Helps” given by Prof. Alexis Dudden.


 


The 2016 History Prize Day Award Winners

  • Thomas G. Paterson Graduate Fellowship in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations: Frances Martin
  • Harry J. Marks Fellowship: Erik Freeman and Jessica Strom
  • Undergraduate History Excellence Award: Harrison Fregeau and Christopher Sacco
  • Roger N. Buckley Award: Harrison Fregeau
  • Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Award: Kevin Finefrock
  • Connecticut Celebration 350th Scholarship: Nathan Braccio
  • Hugh M. Hamill Graduate Fellowship in Latin American History: Orlando Deavila
  •  Albert E. & Wilda E. Van Dusen Scholarship: Jorell Melendez-Badillo
  •  Andrew W. Pyper Scholarship: Gabrielle Westcott, Katherine Hoskin, and Jeremy Timperanza
  •  Karl Z. Trybus Undergraduate Award for Exceptional Work in Modern European History: Zachary Stack
  •  Bruce M. & Sondra Astor Stave Prize in Recent American History: Matthew Guariglia
  •  Abraham and Faye Astor Scholarship: Yang Zheng
  •  Allen M. Ward Prize in Ancient History: Eric Medawar
  •  Albert E. and Wilda E. Van Dusen Award for Undergraduate Study and Travel in the Fields of Ancient Greco-Roman History and Classical Languages: Eric Medawar

 

The 2016 Phi Alpha Theta Initiates

Eric J. Mooney
Donovan P. Fifield
Gregory P. DiVito, Jr.
Collin C. Anderson
Kayla W. Gervino
Lynsey Grzejszczak
Joseph A. Hutton, Jr.
Zoe R. Kaufman
Julia Garavel
Ryan E. Kogstad
Duane Yuhas
Simon T. Walker
Samuel D. Surowitz
Robert A. Stickel
John H. Kelly