Join us in congratulating our past and present UConn History graduate students on their wonderful achievements!
Graduate student Constance Holden has been awarded the 2023-2025 UConn Greenhouse Studios Graduate Assistantship to Support Diversity in Digital Humanities.
Former graduate student and current New England Air Museum Curator Nick Hurley (MA ’15) has been named the 2023 U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH) Scholar in Residence. This program is a professional development opportunity established in 2021 for Army National Guard and Reserve officers possessing advanced degrees in history. Participants spend one year on the rotating faculty of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point and another as a member of the CMH staff in Washington, D.C.
has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Alabama – Birmingham.
has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas El Paso.
UConn History and Africana Studies Professor, Fiona Vernal was awarded a $200,000 Partnership Grant from Connecticut Humanities for the expansion of her public history program, “An Integrated Framework for Engaged, Public, Oral, and Community Histories” (or EPOCH), she founded in 2015. EPOCH fosters collaboration between UConn undergraduates and faculty, as well as community organizations and archivists to highlight both Connecticut and global histories. Past projects include child labor exploitation in global chocolate production and an 80-year history of housing discrimination in Hartford. This recent partnership with Connecticut Humanities will allow EPOCH to collect community histories across Connecticut beginning with Bloomfield, Windsor, and Enfield. Prof. Vernal’s work and new partnership with Connecticut Humanities are featured in the UConn Today article, “EPOCH Shares Community Histories, From Connecticut to Côte d’Ivoire.”
UConn History Alum Kate Aguilar, now an Assistant Professor in History at Gustavus Adolphus College, contributed a thought-provoking piece to the Washington Post about race and football ahead of the first contest between two Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, “It took until 2023 for two Black QBs to start in a Super Bowl. Here’s why.” The article explores how narratives about Black people during slavery “being athletically superior but intellectually inferior” have impacted where white owners and white coaches have allowed Black players to participate on the football field. Her hope is that the attention to this historic moment will draw attention to the barriers placed on Black athletes historically and in the present, which will “help fans better understand how slavery — and the noxious, racist ideas that came with it — still affect how we see race, sports and leadership in the 21st century.”
Kate Aguilar’s research focuses on the intersection of Black student activism and the Black athlete at the University of Miami (Fla.)
UConn 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.
On September 29th and 30th, four UConn graduate students presented their research at the Sixth Annual Stony Brook University Graduate History Conference. The presenters included three history graduate students –David Evans, Lincoln Hirn, and Rachel Hendrick– and ELIN graduate student Juan Macias-Diaz.
David Evans presented his paper, “Eradicating Hunger: The World Food Crisis and Anti-Hunger Activism in the 1970s.” This project explores how state and non-state actors reacted to global food insecurity during the 1970s. It highlights the significance of human rights and neoliberal economic approaches to solving the food problem, and the degree to which they intersected U.S. foreign and domestic politics. His dissertation in progress, “Hunger for Rights: The Human Right to Food in the Post-War Era, explores similar themes.
Lincoln Hirn presented his paper, “Dynamic Stories: The Changing Role of the Slave Narrative in Postbellum America,” which discusses how the slave-narrative genre of autobiography changed between 1865 and 1915. It also looks at how formerly enslaved autobiographers adapted to the changing ways that the American public viewed and remembered slavery, enslavers, and the Civil War.
Rachel Hendrick presented her paper, “Benjamin Franklin and the Business of Paper,” which lays out a methodology for combining evidence from Franklin’s business ledgers and from the paper he used to print the Pennsylvania Gazette to show that Franklin had far different paper buying habits than his contemporaries. She argued that Franklin was buying printing paper in the late 1730s to ingratiate himself with his fellow Philadelphia merchants. Her research shows that these purchases later translated into donations of time and money for Franklin’s improvement projects in the 1740s and 1750s.
Juan Macias-Diaz presented his paper, “An Indigenous Kingdom: Indigenous Anticolonial Projects of the Comunero Revolt (1781),” an exploration of the surprising echoes of the Túpac Amaru Rebellion among indigenous and criollo communities in New Granada (Colombia).
From February 4 – February 27, the Stonington Historical Society will debut new and permanent exhibition on slavery. Thanks to the dedicated research of two members of the UConn History community, Professor Nancy Steenburg and former graduate student Liz Kading, the story of Venture Smith will shed light on the multifaceted landscapes of slavery and freedom in 18th century New England. The exhibition, entitled, “My Freedom is a Privilege that Nothing Else Can Equal,” will mark the re-opening of the Lighthouse Museum. Admission will be free throughout the month. For more information:
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.”
UConn ’21 graduate Michael Francomano worked with UConn History Professor Alexis Dudden on their senior thesis that explores the legal discourses around nuclear weapons in the twentieth century. A job well done!
Michael Francomano, “The Influence of the United States on Nuclear Laws”
Thesis Advisor: Alexis Dudden
The United States government has influenced the laws surrounding the use of nuclear weapons from the moment of their first use against a civilian population in 1945. These efforts include countless measures taken to absolve the United States from responsibility for their actions. This is especially seen in the Marshall Islands where US government efforts to abjure legal responsibility to help those directly impacted by radioactive fallout resulting from weapons testing between 1945 and 1962 abound as do efforts to attend the natives that were completely displaced from their home islands destroyed in the name of nuclear testing. These actions span to current day warfare. In so doing, the United States government defies international laws prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in war in the form of armor piercing rounds of munitions made out of depleted uranium (used as recently as 2015 in Syria). The legality of these weapons is something that remains a gray area in international law, and a major contributor to that is the fact that the United States has used its power and history with nuclear weapons to influence the creation of new precedents and disregard the laws that have already been in place.
UConn ’21 graduate Michael Fox worked with UConn History Professor Meredith Rusoff on their senior thesis that explores freedom of speech in early modern England. A job well done!
Michael Fox, ““A Strange Thing for the Foot to Guide the Head”: Freedom of Speech in Elizabethan Parliaments
Thesis Advisor: Meredith Rusoff
Freedom of speech is a right that many in the United States, and the Western world, take for granted as something that is critical for any modern democratic society to function. However, this has not been the case for the vast majority of Western, and human, history. It is during the early-modern period, specifically the Enlightenment, that concepts such as freedom of speech were developed, and eventually became fully encoded in law. Britain, more specifically England, led the way in the development of freedom of speech within its Parliament, and the practice of common law. Similar to how the government itself evolved in England, so too did its concept of what rights and liberties could be exercised.
Between November 11-12, UConn History will host Emory Professor Mariana P. Candido as a part of the annual Gender & History Series. Professor Candido’s training is in African history, and her work explores gender, property, and land in Angola. Professor Candido will discuss her research in a public lecture and workshop:
Thursday, November 11
Public Lecture | Storrs Campus, Class of ’47 Room in Homer Babbidge Library | 4:30-6pm
“Wealth and Accumulation in Angola: A History of Dispossession and Inequality”
Friday, November 12
Workshop | Storrs Campus, Wood Hall Basement Lounge | 10-11:30am
“Gendered Strategies to Secure Property in 19th century Angola”
*(a pre-circulated paper is available – email Cornelia Dayton at email@example.com)