Student Achievement

Christopher Choi ’20 Receives NSF-GRFP

The Department is pleased to share that history major, Christopher Choi ’20, has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF-GRFP). Choi will be graduating this spring with dual bachelor’s degrees in history, and materials science and engineering. After UConn, he will be headed to sunny California to begin his doctoral studies in biomaterials research at Stanford. Congratulations on these outstanding academic accomplishments, Christopher!

 

UConn Today’s feature on Christopher is listed below. For the full article, click here.

Christopher Choi ’20 (ENG), of Storrs, is graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees in history and materials science and engineering. He has been involved in a range of research activities and labs at UConn, focusing on topics from thermoelectrics to archaeological materials. In addition to receiving the NSF-GRFP, Choi is a member of the honors program, a recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fund award, and was one of the student speakers at the 2018 School of Engineering Scholarship Award Ceremony. Choi has been a member of UConn Model UN for four years, serving as a committee director from fall 2017 to fall 2019, and was involved in the Engineering Ambassadors for four years, serving as the group’s president from spring 2018 to spring 2019. In the fall of 2020, he will begin his doctoral studies at Stanford, where he hopes to contribute to biomaterials research.

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

Aimee Loiselle Ph.D. ’19 Receives OAH Lerner-Scott Prize

Aimee Loiselle, Doctoral Student, History Department, University of ConnecticutA huge congratulations to Aimee Loiselle, who just won the Lerner-Scott Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. Women’s History from the Organization of American Historians!

The OAH announcement follows below:

Aimee Loiselle, Smith College (dissertation completed at the University of Connecticut, under the direction of Micki McElya with Christopher Clark and Peter Baldwin). “Creating Norma Rae: The Erasure of Puerto Rican Needleworkers and Southern Labor Activists in a Neoliberal Icon” is a stunningly successful combination of original scholarship, compelling prose, and sophisticated argumentation. The iconic 1979 film Norma Rae, starring Sally Field as union organizer Crystal Lee Sutton, is Loiselle’s point of departure. The movie depicts Sutton, a white woman, as a courageous underdog who spearheads the unionization of southern textile workers. Analyzing the gendered, racialized, and colonial narratives embedded in the film, Loiselle shows that American popular culture defines “the working class” as white and prefers mythic tales about heroic individuals to true stories about multiracial collective action. She then highlights the work and activism of Puerto Rican needleworkers in the Northeast; these women unionized and battled to stay afloat economically during the 1970s and 1980s, as industries increasingly sought cheaper labor wherever available to compete in the global marketplace. By employing a transnational framework and a cross-disciplinary lens, Loiselle challenges the centrality of white southern mill workers in our histories and interrogates how culture shapes neoliberal political economy. Her dissertation’s contributions to the fields of labor, gender, and cultural studies make it a fitting recipient of the Lerner-Scott prize.

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

“Fulbright Contributes to Dynamic Irish Program at UConn”

Did you know that UConn is one of the few institutions in the US where students can study Old, Early Modern, and Modern Irish language and culture? Or that, thanks to the hard work of Professor Brendan Kane, UConn is leading a multi-institutional and international initiative to recover and codify the Irish language through the website Léamh.org

On February 12th, CLAS’ Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (LCL) Department blog featured the exciting initiatives that are being undertaken by UConn to keep traditional Irish language and culture alive. The well-detailed post features the work of Professor Brendan Kane (Department of History and LCL) and Professor Mary Burke (Department of English), as well as the involvement of students, such as History graduate student Emmet de Barra, in Léamh and campus organizations. 

 

Brendan Kane, Associate Professor of History and Associate Director of the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut
Brendan Kane, Associate Professor of History
Emmet de Barra profile pic
Emmet de Barra, History MA Student

 

To read LCL’s excellent summary, please click here!

4 History Students Named to 2020 University Scholars

Four of the twenty-three students named to UConn’s 2020 University Scholars are History majors or working closely with History faculty. Congratulations are in order for Jenifer Gaitan, Shankara Narayanan, Alexander Mika, and Shanelle Jones! Wood Hall would like to thank Professors Sara Silverstein, Joel Blatt, Frank Costigliola, and Alexis Dudden (among others) for their dedication to assisting and mentoring these students. See below for details of each student:

 

Jenifer Gaitan

Major: History
Project Title: Voces: First-Generation Latinx Students Discuss Their Support Networks
Committee: Laura Bunyan, Sociology (Chair); Ingrid Semaan, Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Joel Blatt, History

 

Shanelle Jones

Major: Political Science and Human Rights
Project Title: Untold Stories of the African Diaspora: The Lived Experiences of Black Caribbean Immigrants in the U.S.
Committee: Charles Venator-Santiago, Political Science (Chair); Virginia Hettinger, Political Science; and Sara Silverstein, History and Human Rights

 

Alexander Mika

Major: English
Project Title: An Exploration of Nationalism and Jingoism through Drama
Committee: Ellen Litman, English (Chair); Evelyn Tribble, English; and Frank Costigliola, History

 

Shankara Narayanan

Major: Political Science and History
Project Title:  The Logic of Rising-Power Strategy: China, Imperial Japan, Imperial Germany, and the United States
Committee: Alexis Dudden, History; Alexander Anievas, Political Science; and Frank Costigliola, History

Ph.D. Student Phil Goduti Named CT Outstanding Teacher of the Year

Philip Goduti, Jr., graduate student, Department of History, University of ConnecticutPh.D. student Philip Goduti has been named the Connecticut Outstanding Teacher of American History for 2020 by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The award is given to a teacher that demonstrates excellence in: readily sharing an incisive knowledge of American History, being committed to their students, fostering a spirit of patriotism and loyal support of our country, relating history to modern life and events, and requiring high academic standards at all times from their students.

Phil has gone beyond the call of teaching duty to demonstrate these attributes in the classroom and inspire his students at Somers High School. Phil will be competing for the national DAR award this spring. Good luck!

 

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.

UConn-Stamford Student, Isabella Ferrante ’19, featured in UConn Today

Isabella FerranteOn October 15, UConn Today’s “Meet the Researcher” spotlight featured UConn-Stamford Honors Student, Isabella Ferrante ’19, whose passion for history has led her to researching “shell shock” before and after WWI. A History major with two minors in English and Psychology, Ferrante’s research endeavors garnered her a Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) grant from UConn’s Office of Undergraduate Research to research at the British National Archives this past summer. According to Ferrante, the opportunity was “incredible” for her academic research and personal growth. The grant helped further an already impressive project that combines archival research with contemporary psychology publications and the memoirs of veterans.

To read more about Ferrante and her research, click here.

 

 

HNN Article by UConn History Graduate, Rohit Kandala ’19

Rohit Kandala spotlightUConn History alum, Rohit Kandala ’19, published an article on the George Washington University’s History News Network in June 2019. Titled “Make History Accessible: The Case for Youtube,” the article provides a glimpse at Kandala’s senior thesis that presented Youtube as a tool for the history community to increase public interest and knowledge. Kandala was advised by Professor Frank Costigliola.

Since graduating in May, Kandala has moved to Washington, DC to work as an analyst for Flag Media Analytics. Congrats, Rohit!