Winners of the 2015 Loomie Prize: Rachel Podd (left) and Christine Kelly (right)
Each year the History department awards its highest honor for excellence in graduate scholarship, the Loomie Prize. The Loomie prize is awarded to the best seminar paper produced during the previous academic year. All M.A. and Ph.D. students who have taken the proseminar/seminar sequence or a research tutorial are eligible. The prize for 2015 was awarded to Rachel Podd and Christine Kelly.
Rachel Podd‘s paper “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague” was written under supervision of Alex Novikoff.The Loomie judges noted that it was based on rich source material, and offered a convincing argument about why and how these sources could be useful to scholars beyond those who specialize in 14th century Catalonia. Rachel wrote that “these documents offer a window… into a vibrant and dynamic world. Within them, one may find Saracens and Christians, men and women, as well as spells and incantations for the health of people and of animals. Through close reading and contextualization, they can elucidate the lives of individuals performing curative activities outside of the major civic centers of Catalonia before the arrival of the plague – what types of diseases did they treat, and how? If caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure?” Hence, Rachel demonstrated how these records sit at the juncture of vernacular medicine, episcopal control, and inquisition.
Christine Kelly‘s paper “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folksong Revival through Sing Out! Magazine, 1950 – 1968″ written under supervision of Kirsten Swinth. Her essay is an outstanding example of cultural analysis built from the gritty work of data collecting. By categorizing hundreds of articles in the folk music periodical, Sing Out!, Christine developed a highly original thesis about the discourse of gender in the 1960s folk music revival. She overturned a conventional division between the leftist cultural movements of the 1930s, and those of the 1960s, showing that folk revivalists in the 1960s resurrected familiar tropes and narratives of gender from the 1930s. These were ultimately highly traditionalist, premising an anti-capitalist utopia on an idealized view of the American past where women remained tied to “traditional domestic and reproductive spaces” and “men were more responsible for carrying out the daily operations of political thought and cultural innovation that constituted the engine [of the] folk song revival.”
We reached out to Rachel and Christine for details about their work and how they developed the ideas and research for their papers.
It has become an annual tradition to take a cold winter day to celebrate History at Fordham. This event, History Day, offers an opportunity to learn some of the interesting things that the Department is doing. Organized into panels, faculty, graduate students and history majors share their work with the wider Fordham community. We will be meeting this year in the Campbell Multipurpose Room (with coffee and donuts).
This year we have some exciting events. The day kicks off with a 10:00am panel discussion of Jerusalem in History. Jerusalem is perhaps the most significant place on earth. It is central to three faith traditions, has been the site of enormous conflict and remains an object of political conflict at this very moment. Our panel will try to give a sense of the historic depth of Jerusalem’s significance.
At 11:30 we will have a group of majors presenting their research from the last semester: Kyle Stelzer, Daniel Salerno, Alison Blitz, and Arthur Mezzo.
At 1:00, we will have a panel to discuss how migration has shaped the historical experience of the United States and Europe. This group will grapple with different types of migration, how it has impacted the host society, and how the the memory of migration can be used.
Finally, at 2:30 we will have another group of majors presenting their work: Cecilia Morin, Sarah Lopez, Joe O’Brien, and Melanie Sheehan.
Come join us and discover what is happening here at Fordham! If you have to step away, you can follow highlights on Twitter: @FordhamHistory.
On Saturday, December 5th, Professor Alex Novikoff took four Fordham Students to the 10th Annual Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Moravian College. The four students, all History majors, each presented a paper. Erin Collier presented, “The Role of Menstruation and Impurity in the Characterization of Jews as ‘The Other’ in Medieval Soceity,” Arthur Mezzo presented, “God and Kind: Biographies of Medieval Frankish Kings,” Rita Orazi presented, “The Emperor as Classical Hero in Ana Komnene’s Alexiad,” and Kyle Stelzer presented, “The Tibyan: One Ruler’s Account of Christian-Muslim Relations in Eleventh Century Iberia.”
Esther Lieberman Cuenca, recipient of the Schallek Fellowship
Fordham History Department’s own Esther Liberman Cuenca was recently awarded the Schallek Fellowship, a one-year grant of $30,000 to support Ph.D. dissertation research in any relevant discipline (art history, literature, history, etc.) dealing with late medieval Britain (ca. 1350-1500). Not only is this a prestigious honor but it will allow Esther to conduct research critical to the completion of her dissertation.
Esther’s research focuses on the development and evolution of borough customary law in medieval Britain. Borough customs were practices or traditions that over time acquired the force of law within the town. Her analytical goals are twofold: to contribute to a deeper understanding of the place of urban customary law within the British legal system, and to reveal custom’s role in the emergence of a distinct bourgeois identity in medieval Britain. Borough customary law has received little scholarly attention because of its scattered distribution in many local and county archives; the need for multi-lingual expertise in Latin, Anglo-Norman French, and Middle English; and the difficulty of dating customary clauses and ordinances from multiple iterative copies.
SROI C/4/1/1, f. 9a: The table of contents for the French Ipswich custumal, contained in the codex they call the ‘Black Domesday.’
Since she reached ABD status at Fordham in 2012, Esther has been teaching multiple courses at Marymount California University and this fellowship will give her the opportunity to focus fully on completing her dissertation. She plans to spend the 2016-2017 year living in England where she can complete her research at the Bristol Record Office and London Metropolitan Archives. In 2013, Esther was also the recipient of the Schallek Award, which is a small grant of $2,000 to help students cover research expenses. “The Medieval Academy/Richard III Society have been very kind to me! And I’m very grateful that they’re supporting my research,” says Esther. The History Department is grateful as well, and very excited for Esther to seize this opportunity!
As the semester draws to a close, we would like to invite the History Department graduate students and faculty to an HGSA Research Seminar by Fordham Ph.D. candidate Christina Bruno entitled “Small Facts and Large Issues: Writing a Microhistory of the Observance,” to be held this Thursday, December 3 at 6:00 pm in Keating 116.
Christina’s dissertation, entitled “Church Law and Society in Late Medieval Bologna: A Franciscan Vademecum in Context” centers around a single manuscript compiled by an Italian Observant Franciscan friar at the turn of the sixteenth century. For this presentation, Christina will introduce her manuscript source and her dissertation more generally, as well as offer her own solutions (so far) to the potential methodological problems associated with the microhistorical approach.
This talk, part of an ongoing graduate student Research Seminar Series organized by the HGSA, is open to all students and faculty. This series serves as a forum for advanced History graduate students to share their dissertation projects and research experiences with a wider audience. We will likely head over to the Bronx Beer Hall afterward for further convivial discussion. Please come!
The History Department is proud to introduce one of its newest initiatives, the Mannion Society. Named in honor of the late Professor Anne Mannion, an alumna of Fordham’s school of education who went on to teach at Fordham for 53 years, the Mannion society was established by the History Department to identify outstanding history majors and to encourage their development as specifically as researchers. At the center of the historian’s craft is the process of research and writing. Members of the Mannion Society, therefore work intensively with a faculty member to identify a suitable research question, work intensively in researching that question, and then turn that work into a persuasive argument. In the end, members will have an outstanding foundation when they turn to apply for jobs, graduate school or prestigious fellowships.
Cristina Iannarino (FCRH ’17) wrote to tell us about how her work in the Mannion society had helped her in the process of doing original research:
I had done research with Dr. Myers in one of my previous history courses (Honors Early Modern Europe), in which I had traced the origin of the tomato and its significance to understanding the nature of contact between regions in Europe (and by extension, the New World). For that project, I had traced the earliest known sixteenth-century Italian source to describe the tomato and its novel usage as a culinary ingredient. I found that herbalists surrounding European regions outside of Italy had appropriated the same description and usage in their own works, demonstrating the effect Italian writing and usage of the tomato at the time had on establishing the tomato as an essential culinary ingredient—its status today. This was an experience that I know I will never forget, especially as an aspiring historian. I knew from that moment on, I was eager to do this kind of research again and deepen my understanding of the art of historical research. I wanted to equip myself with the same skills necessary to produce that same “aha-moment” of research and realize that it is not simply due to chance, but also, a product of dedication and passion. With the Mannion Society’s goal to reproduce the same spectacular moment in which one’s research clicks into something of significance and answers the “So what?” question historians face, I have been thoroughly enjoying expanding my knowledge on the process with Dr. Stoll that had been introduced to me by Dr. Myers. Along with the help of The Craft of Research and Dr. Stoll’s advising, I have delved into the intricacies of the process of producing original research, making the path much clearer and seem less intimidating with each meeting. While I am still gathering the specifics of the project, the advice from Dr. Stoll and my peers in the Mannion Society have helped me focus my research to the Early Modern experience/conception of “melancholy” and how important communal figures at the time, especially clergymen, recognized this as an illness, or something that deserved to be addressed and treated. Members of the clergy acted as the period’s first physicians, producing a wealth of “self-help” material and giving sermons on the matter. I find this relationship between sufferers of melancholy and the clergy to be fascinating, and am hoping to contribute significance to the subject. Because of the Mannion Society, I feel that I am more prepared to do so.
We’re excited to see what other Mannion Society members are up to, and we’ll let you know about the progress of their ongoing research.
Right now, all over the country, college campuses are the sites of debate and protest over questions of history, identity, privilege, and inclusion. The timing could not be better for a graduate course in the History department which addresses these questions head-on. That is why we are particularly excited to announce that this coming Spring semester Professor Kirsten Swinth will be teaching a new course entitled “Race and Gender in Modern America,” Professor Swinth sat down with us and talked about her ideas for the course, including the book that will be the starting point for the conversation, and her “student-led” approach to the development of the course themes and readings. You can watch her comments below. We found it incredibly inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately and eloquently about the role that history can play in confronting some of the greatest challenges to our society. We bet you will too.
Join the History Department’s Graduate Student Association at their Research Seminar on Monday, November 23 at 4:00 pm in Keating 105. Alessandro Saluppo will present on his doctoral research: “Violence and Terror: Imaginaries and Practices of Squadrismo in the Province of Ferrara, 1914-1922”
Alessandro’s dissertation provides a new and innovative reading on fascist violence by examining the violent practices of Ferrara’s fascist squads, which pioneered the methods of agrarian Squadrismo and earned a reputation for extreme brutality during the fascist rise to power (1921-1922). Drawing on the phenomenological program of social science research on violence, studies on the anthropology of violence and the most recent praxeological approaches to Fascism, the study concentrates on the performative and expressive-symbolic dimensions of squadristi violence and their effects on bodies and social subjectivities.
This presentation, part of a continuing graduate student Research Seminar Series organized by the HGSA, is open to all students and faculty. This series is envisioned as a forum for advanced History graduate students to share their dissertation projects and research experiences with a wider audience. Please come!