The July 8, 2022 tragic assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe sent shockwaves throughout the world. UConn History Professor Alexis Dudden reflected on the life and legacy of Shinzo Abe, whose tenure in office transformed the role of East Asia in international politics. In one of the first interviews about the impact of Shinzo Abe, Prof. Dudden reveals to journalist Isaac Chotiner that:
“It is the irony overlaying his career because, at its fundamental core, making Japan “beautiful” is quite anti-American. And yet, on the surface, he’s seen as the person who tried so hard to make Japan’s alliance promises to the United States stronger. But these are solely in security terms, and have led to greater insecurity in the region. The standoff with Korea, the increasingly frozen ties with China are a result of Abe’s determination to make Japan great again. And it therefore really comes down to: What is the meaning of “great” for Abe, and for the legacy of Abe? Because, again, most Japanese have come to have a different understanding.”
Below are several articles in which Prof. Dudden has continued to explain the influence of Shinzo Abe on history and diplomacy:
UConn Today has also highlighted the contributions that Prof. Dudden has made to news coverage on Shinzo Abe. For more on Shinzo Abe, Japanese politics, and national identity, please browse the work of Prof. Dudden throughout these news outlets.
UConn Today featured double History and Political Science major Mehdi Namazi’22 in a recent issue. Feeling led toward activist work, Namazi found the blend of history and political science to serve his intellectual and professional interests. He has decided to pursue a career in advocacy or policy work and is open to wherever those paths may lead. , Namazi hopes that his passion for coffee shops will sustain him as he explores life post-graduation. Congratulations and we look forward to following your journey!
The full UConn Today profile reveals more about Mehdi Namazi’s UConn experiences–from extracurricular activities to advice for first-year students.
The University of Connecticut’s Office of Undergraduate Research celebrated Jason Chang, Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies, with the annual Mentorship Excellence Award. This award, based on undergraduate student nominations and a selection committee, recognizes the faculty who go above and beyond to support and encourage students in their academic journeys. According to Karen Lau’ 25, Professor Jason Chang inspired them to be “unafraid of the unknown, to dig deeper to learn about my home state’s impact on Asian Americans, and to be bolder in my advocacy in my education reform.” For a professor as committed and compassionate as Jason Chang, this award is well-deserved. We look forward to the continued work that you will do to show students the power of advocacy, representation, and visibility. Congratulations!
Professor Chang received this award alongside Sarah Knutie, Assistant Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Mia Kawaida, a Ph.D. student in Animal Science. Please read the full article that details the tremendous impact of these three educators.
On April 7, 2022, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the 180 recipients of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Established in 1925, the Foundation intends to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.” The Foundation honored UConn History Professor Manisha Sinha, the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History, as one the scholars whose work exemplifies this promise. We celebrate this momentous accomplishment! She is the fifth UConn History faculty member to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship, following Richard D. Brown in 1998, Frank Costigliola in 1995, Thomas G. Paterson in 1991, and Karen Spalding in 1988.
Professor Manisha Sinha is an expert on the history of slavery, abolition, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. She is currently working on a book on the “Greater Reconstruction” of U.S. democracy after the Civil War, a follow up to her previous award-winning works on slavery in South Carolina and the history of abolition.
We encourage you to read the full press release and list of new Fellows, which spans across 51 academic and artistic disciplines and 81 institutions. UConn Today profiles Professor Sinha, her research, and this fellowship in their latest issue.
Connecticut State Historian and UConn History Professor Walter Woodward announced his retirement last fall. As 1 of only 5 CT state historians, Woodward has contributed to a new history of how educators and students imagine, remember, and study the stories of the past. In a UConn Today article written by writer Kimberly Phillips, Woodward reflects on the immersion, creativity, and dedication that characterize the work of the State Historian. He describes his mission to “connect the people of Connecticut with the fascinating and fabulous history of this state in ways that don’t come naturally in our educational system.” He achieved this mission through podcasting, outreach initiatives, K-12 engagement–activities grounded in communication, collaboration, and commitment.
Woodward’s interview, titled “State Historian Walter Woodward Considers the Past as He Looks to the Future,” is insightful, enriching, and illuminating read.
UConn History PhD ’15 Erin Bartram founded Contingent Magazine with this vision: to broaden who does history, how they do it, and where they do it. Bartram, who is a historian of the 19th century United States and currently works as the School Programs Coordinator at The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT, is an example of how to do history outside of tenure-track positions. As a part of Contingent Magazine’s “Doing History” series, Erin Bartram reveals what energizes her about her work, from the variety of programming to K-12 curriculum design. Bartram describes that through her work in public history, she is able to use her research in gender and family histories of New England to tell richer stories about the past. In the article, Bartram affirms that:
“Not only was UConn really the best place for me, I was fortunate enough to have an adviser who was endlessly curious and didn’t mind me roaming far afield. In a department with Dick Brown, Bob Gross, Chris Clark, Nina Dayton, Nancy Shoemaker, and Altina Waller–plus some Early America stars in other departments at the university–I could have only taken 18th and 19th century courses if I’d really wanted to. But I took all kinds of courses, and got really into histories and theories of colonialism. Oddly it was that stuff that led me into the topic I ended up researching.”
For more on Erin Bartram’s work, please read “How Erin Bartram Does History,”
UConn History Professor Dexter Gabriel is also known as speculative fiction author P. Djèlí Clark. How does a scholar of slavery and emancipation pen novelettes, short stories, and novellas? How did his academic path led to a double career in fiction writing? Explaining to writer Christine Buckley in “The Secret Life of Dexter Gabriel – aka P. Djèlí Clark,” Gabriel explains that speculation is the bridge between the two worlds. “I was just immersed in the things historians think about, and it came out on the other side. In history we speculate when we don’t know things,” he elaborated.
His pen name P. Djèlí Clark blends family history, perhaps an ode to how Gabriel merges the worlds of science fiction and history in his writing. Although writing outside of the academy is usually a cautionary tale for academics, Gabriel has disrupted the boundaries between the separation of “academy and public.” As his identity as a Black man, immigrant, and a first generation college student informed how much he would self-present as a fiction writer and academic, Gabriel continued to teach by day and write fiction by night, often accompanied by a 2 a.m. late night coffee. His latest work, Ring Shout, blends fiction and historical realities as it traces a band of resistance fighters who combat white supremacist demons in the early 20th century.
UConn Magazine carefully details Dexter Gabriel’s “travels” between fiction writing and academia. For more on P. Djèlí Clark’s work, please see:
After graduating from UConn in 2016 as a newly minted PhD, Allison Horrocks pursued a career in public history. Her path after UConn led to a job at the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, which spans across Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Contingent Magazine profiled Allison Horrocks career, asking her about the whys and hows of her history journey as a part of their series on how historians within and beyond the academy “do history.” Founded by another UConn Ph.D. alum Erin Bartram, Contingent Magazine is dedicated to broadening the scope of what constitutes historical learning, storytelling, and careers.
In the article “How Allison Horrocks Does History,” Allison Horrocks shares tidbits from her past that informed her pathway to public history. It is a fantastic read that inspires us all to think big about the work that we do. A job well done!
This 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.
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: