Category Archives: Postcards

Six Weeks, Four Countries, Five Libraries: The Research Adventures of Jeffrey Doolittle

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Jeffrey taking a break from measuring rulings outside of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg.

With funding provided by a GSAS Research Fellowship, graduate student Jeffrey Doolittle has been able to spend six and a half weeks this autumn at five research libraries in Europe working with several Beneventan manuscripts that will be integral to his dissertation.

Jeffrey’s project explores the medical monastic culture of the early medieval Benedictine abbey of Montecassino through a study of one of its products, Archivio dell’Abbazia, cod. 69, a compendious manuscript produced in the late ninth century. Part of his project entails an extensive codicological and paleographical analysis of Montecassino 69 in comparison with other early medieval manuscripts written in the Beneventan script. So, in order to collect the data for this portion of his dissertation, Jeffrey has traveled to study manuscripts in the collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden (the Netherlands), Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Copenhagen, Denmark), and the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany). And over the next few weeks, he will make two more stops at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich and finally the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, all before the holiday break! Through the course of this journey, he will study a total of eleven manuscripts. So far, the trip has been extraordinarily productive and rewarding, and Jeffrey has enjoyed conversations with the wonderfully friendly librarians and specialists, including Erik Petersen in Copenhagen and Stefan Knoch in Bamberg. Still, he looks forward to returning home to his family for the holidays, and preparing for another research trip to Italy in the spring!

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The view of the Bamberger Dom from the entrance to the archives where Jeffrey is standing in the picture above.

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Postcard: A Bury Fun Summer

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The Ruins at Bury St. Edmunds

Thanks to the History Department’s Leahey fellowship for summer travel, graduate student and medievalist Louisa Foroughi was able to spend five weeks in June and July visiting archives in England and Scotland (with a very brief Welsh detour!). Louisa’s dissertation focuses on the origins and social significance of the English “yeomen,” a group situated at the mid-point of the social scale, who made their first appearance in the early fifteenth century and quickly rose to prominence under the Tudors. She spent ten days in London and Chester tracking down a yeomen family from a small town near Chester, during which time she snuck in a quick jaunt across the Welsh border, a mere 30 minute walk from the city walls! She spent a further two weeks gathering probate records in local record offices in Norwich, Bury St. Edmunds, and Ipswich, all favorite haunts. She is now in possession of c. 377 wills and inventories produced by husbandmen, yeomen, and gentlemen from 1348-1538, one of the three main document times upon which her dissertation will be based. While in England, Louisa also presented a paper on Archbishops’ Registers at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds and attended the Anglo-American Seminar with Professor Maryanne Kowaleski. She is happy to be back in the US, and looks forward to finally being able to answer the question, “what is a yeomen?”

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Summer Postcard from Bruges

Left to right: Clare King'oo (University of Connecticut ) Susan Felch (Calvin College) Jamie H. Ferguson (University of Houston), and Susan Wabuda (Fordham)

Left to right: Clare King’oo (University of Connecticut ) Susan Felch (Calvin College) Jamie H. Ferguson (University of Houston), and Susan Wabuda (Fordham)

Below, Professor Susan Wabuda discusses the Sixteenth Century Society Conference held in Bruges this summer, as well as her adventures in the historic Belgian city, in the latest installment of our Summer Postcards series. Read on to learn more about the city’s intellectual and aesthetic delights. Continue reading

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Postcard: A Seminar in Stirling

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Louisa Foroughi confers with Professor Bruce Campbell

From July 8th to 11th Fordham Professor Maryanne Kowaleski and graduate student Louisa Foroughi attended the XIIth Annual Anglo-American Seminar on the Medieval Economy and Society, held this year in Stirling, Scotland. The Anglo-American Seminar is a long-standing gathering of some of the most distinguished economic and social historians in England and America. This year’s presentations drew attention to new directions in research, while its panel discussion featured lively debate about the relationship between government policy and England’s economy in the late middle ages. Professor Kowaleski closed the conference with a fascinating paper on the political participation and consciousness of mariners in late medieval England, part of her larger work on England’s seamen and coastal communities. A highlight of this year’s Seminar was a (rainy!) walking tour of the town of Stirling, all the way from the castle at the top of the hill to the fish stews at its base, led by Professor Richard Oram, who also opened the conference with an excellent talk on the environmental history of Scotland and its neglected relationship to political history. Louisa especially benefited from the opportunity to meet and talk over her thesis with experts in their field, such as Prof. Bruce Campbell, who was also honored with the presentation of a festschrift at the conference.

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Postcard: An Afternoon with Creighton Berry

Creighton Berry and Damien Strecker

Creighton Berry (left) and History PhD student Damien Strecker

Continuing our Summer Postcards series, PhD student Damien Strecker tells us about an interview he conducted as part of his research on the history of St. Augustine Church in the South Bronx with Creighton Berry, a former member of its congregation. Read Damien’s account of his illuminating trip below. Continue reading

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Magda Teter Introduces Harlem Elementary School Kids to the History of the Book

Professor Magda Teter introduces school children in Harlem to the history of the book

Professor Magda Teter introduces school children in Harlem to the history of the book

So far our series of summer postcards has highlighted how Fordham historians used the summer months to visit archives, go to conferences, and work on projects. In this installment, Professor Magda Teter tells us about how she used her summer time to bring her knowledge and teaching skills to her community, visiting an elementary school in Harlem and teaching two classes for 6-9 year olds about the history of the book. As Professor Teter writes: “Books are more than text, they are also objects. How did book come to have title pages? Beautiful colors and eye-catching binding. The two sessions covered the history of the book, from the ancient scrolls to modern books. The book, as we know it, is a historical artifact that changed over long centuries in format and content. We looked at Jewish and Christian books printed and in manuscript, on parchment scrolls and on paper. Students touched books that were printed hundreds of years ago, even in the 1460s. Technological advancements, like the introduction of paper and the moveable type, and local contexts have influenced the way information was preserved and accessed. We looked at books as an object and examined the influence of the material aspect of the book for the transmission and access to information.  The young students touched real history.”

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Summer Postcard: Finding English Marshland in Los Angeles

eventeenth Century Judgment of the Jurors of Romney Marsh Concerning the Sale of Soil for Sea-Wall Huntington Library Battle Abbey Collections 56 A Photograph by Tobias Hrynick

Seventeenth Century Judgment of the Jurors of Romney Marsh Concerning the Sale of Soil for Sea-Wall
Huntington Library Battle Abbey Collections 56 A
Photograph by Tobias Hrynick

Our latest postcard comes courtesy of PhD student Tobias Hrynick:

This July, I was able to attend the Mellon Summer Institute in English Paleography at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Institute consisted of a month of afternoon course-work on reading early modern handwriting, lead by Dr. Heather Wolfe, of the Folger Library. In the mornings, I was able to explore the Huntington’s extensive collection of manorial records of Battle Abbey, a Benedictine foundation in Sussex. The research opportunities and training provided by the Institute have contributed to my ongoing research project on the drainage and agricultural exploitation of south-eastern English marshes, since the Battle Abbey collection at the Huntington contains extensive documentation of Battle’s lands on Pevensey Marsh with occasional reference to other marshes in the region, and because an understanding of early modern hands is a key tool in unraveling the early modern scholarship through which our understanding of medieval marshes has been mediated.

Texts from Battle Abbey reveal a number of peculiar features of wetland charters. Notable is the occasional use of the slightly larger Flemish acre to measure wetland holdings, suggestive of influence from the Low Countries in medieval English wetland exploitation. Also interesting is the careful attention given to responsibilities toward marsh drainage when wetlands were being transferred – one gift of marsh to Battle Abbey specified not only that it would be the monks who were responsible for maintaining the drainage ditch on the edge of the property, but even onto which side of the ditch they were to cast dirt when they dredged it.

 Munger Research Center, Huntington Library Photograph by Tobias Hrynick


Munger Research Center, Huntington Library
Photograph by Tobias Hrynick

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Summer Postcard: Chris Dietrich’s Hunt for Sovereignty in the Library of Congress

Secretary of State Robert Lansing (far left) in Washington, D.C., no date (between 1916 and 1918), Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State Robert Lansing (far left) in Washington, D.C., no date (between 1916 and 1918), Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Greetings from the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.!   I am here doing research in the Robert Lansing and Charles Evan Hughes papers.  Lansing was Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson during the Paris negotiations for the peace treaty to World War I.  In his papers, I am looking at the correspondence relating to the founding of the League of Nations and the ideas of sovereignty and self-determination for oppressed peoples in Central Europe and, to a lesser extent, the former Ottoman Empire.  Hughes was Secretary of State from 1921 to 1925.   In his papers, I am examining what was known as “The Mandates Controversy,” which was essentially a debate in the United States about the secret treaties between the British and French governments, both during and after the war, to divide up the rich oil-producing areas of the Middle East.  How would the League of Nations monitor the “trustee powers” of Britain and France, as they ostensibly managed the Mandates of Mesopotamia and Syria for their own benefit?  What would be the role of the United States, which had not joined the League of Nations but still maintained its right, as a participant in the Allied victory in the war, to representation in the Mandates?  How would the trustee powers respond to American entreaties to open up their economies to American, in particular Standard Oil, investment?  I am finding a lot of interesting information and, as a nice surprise, also found an old friend, who has just accepted a job at King’s College in London, in the Reading Room.

In the evenings, I am taking my 7-year-old son around the Capitol Hill area and giving him contemporary civic lessons.  “Look, son, there’s Congress.  That’s where petty lawmakers have tried to gut education spending and prevent major social welfare advances for our most disadvantaged citizens,” and that sort of thing.  I hope everyone is having an equally fantastic summer!

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Summer Postcards: Our Camino

History PhD students Louisa Foroughi (left) and Rachel Podd help to lead the Camino de Santiago

History PhD students Louisa Foroughi (left) and Rachel Podd help to lead the Annual Fordham Camino de Santiago trip

Fordham History graduate students Louisa Foroughi and Rachel Podd were delighted to serve as chaperones accompanying the Camino study tour led by Fordham History Professor David Myers and Dr. Alex Egler of Fordham’s Religious Education Program. The Camino de Santiago is a medieval pilgrimage route dating back to approximately the ninth century, when the body of St. James was discovered near the sea by a monk led there by divine inspiration. Almost immediately, pilgrims flocked to the shrine of the saint, and over the course of the high and late middle ages men and women, nobles and paupers, kings and queens traveled routes all the way from England, Paris, Northern Africa, Constantinople, and Rome. Today the most famous route begins in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, at the border between France and Spain, and cuts through the Pyrenees, across the flatlands of Castille and Leon, and into mountainous Galicia, to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. The Fordham Camino program begins in Leon, halfway through this route, and lasts two weeks, from mid-May to early June, during which time 23 students walked 311 km together with their fearless leaders. Rachel and Louisa had an amazing time walking the road, instructing students in the finer details of medieval art and history, and bandaging blisters. Particular highlights include the 12th century Romanesque church in Rabanal, the fog over the mountains just past the Cruz de Ferro, and unbelievable pulpo in Melide. To learn more about this year’s Camino tour, see the course blog at Mapping the Camino. Buen Camino!

Arriving in Santiago

The whole Fordham Camino team arrive in Santiago de Compostela

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Summer Postcard: The Medievalist’s “Grand Tour”

Eastbridge Pilgrim Hospital, Canterbury

Eastbridge Pilgrim Hospital, Canterbury

The next postcard in our series about the summer wanderings and adventures of Fordham historians sees PhD candidate Lucy Barnhouse undertake a medievalist’s version of the Grand Tour, presenting papers at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, at Canterbury, and in Paris. Lucy reports:

“Leeds felt like something of a marathon on its own, and I was glad of the company of fellow Fordhamites Esther Cuenca and Louisa Foroughi. From our shared apartment we struck out for long but productive days of conferencing. Besides specialized panels galore, we got to enjoy medieval-inspired street food. It made good fortification for a series of panels on the social identities of medieval lepers.

Leper Hospital at Harbledown

Eastridge Pilgrim Hospital (interior)

From Leeds, I went directly to Canterbury, where the conference of the Society for the Social History of Medicine was hosted. The conference organizers gave us the chance to tour local sites of interest. Having predictably chosen to visit the pilgrim hospital of Eastbridge, I and some other medievalists proceeded on a self-guided tour of more of Canterbury’s historical architecture. After the conference—at which I presented alongside historians of the antebellum American South and twentieth-century England on the shared theme of hospitals in urban communities—I hiked out to Harbledown to see the twelfth-century leper hospital.

The last stop on the Grand Tour was Paris, where I attended my first meeting of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing. I got to spend time with Alisa Beer, to meet new scholars, and to hear many interesting papers. Conference delegates also got free admission to the exhibits at the Bibliothèque Nationale, where we were hosted. Paris being Paris, I also consumed a truly alarming quantity of delicious pastries, and the conference wine-and-cheese reception was a gastronomic tour-de-force. Arguably more important was the fact that I got lots of encouragement to develop the paper I presented for a possible postdoc project. Now it’s back to the considerably less glamorous work of editing the dissertation!”

Thanks Lucy! And to all those Fordham historians on their summer adventures: keep those postcards coming!

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