Exploring race and racism, gender and misogyny: History 5410 Race and Gender in Modern America

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments is an exploratory, experimental history of the lives of young black women in northern cities in the early twentieth century. Its author, Saidiya Hartmann, had just won a MacArthur “genius” grant for her innovative scholarship when we sat down to discuss the book earlier this month. I think that it was at this moment that the seven students in History 5410 Race and Gender in Modern America really gelled. The day’s student seminar-leaders guided us through a provocative, wide-ranging discussion about how Hartmann’s method beautifully evoked the inner worlds of women largely invisible in the historical record where they mostly appear as statistics in sociologies of the ghetto, names on police blotters, or case files of detention centers. We considered what Hartmann taught us about these young women’s lives with her method that we might not have understood otherwise and discussed whether or not this was a method that graduate students in history might want to embrace.

Hartmann’s book is among a set of histories of race and gender in the U.S. since 1877 that the course includes. We have read about miscegenation, farmworkers and migrants, and women’s employment and “economic citizenship” and are moving on to civil rights, conservative politics of the family, and mass incarceration. Katie, a first-year doctoral student in the department, comments that “I have never explored race and gender exclusively in a course and the well-selected readings and discussions have forced me to re-evaluate my preconceived notions of both of these concepts. This class has challenged me to really understand how race and gender construct one another in today’s world.” Grace Campagna, a senior history major, echoes the point, observing that “The biggest takeaway from the class so far has been seeing the range of ways that those in power have used race and gender to construct and uphold social, political, and economic systems.”

The seminar is based in a student-centered pedagogy. Will Hogue, a second-year doctoral student, says that “Dr. Swinth’s commitment to experimenting with new and more democratic pedagogical methods has been very rewarding.” He adds, “The collaborative syllabus model gives the students not only the chance to tailor the course to their personal needs and goals, but also the chance to practice some lesson planning and course construction. In all, it has been helpful for our development both as scholars and teachers.” In fact, the class just completed a collaborative process to set the topics for the last four weeks of the seminar, all chosen by students to reflect their interests and to pursue questions that have arisen in the first part of the course.

At its most basic, this course investigates the ways that race and gender have shaped what it is like to live in the United States today. It draws upon the field of history and the skills, talents, and creativity of committed graduate students (and an accompanying professor) to explore the key categories and mechanisms that have made race and gender “tick” in American culture and society since Reconstruction. In many it is a traditional graduate readings seminar. Course readings analyze how these key, intersecting categories shaped American politics, economy, culture, state, and criminal justice system. But beyond that, the seminar’s deeper goal is to follow the class’s collective interests. What do class members, as individuals, and the class, as a group, want to understand better and more deeply about the history of race and gender in the U.S.? This course is as an opportunity to figure out why learning about this topic matters to comprehending U.S. history, why it matters to students (personally, professionally, as citizens/contributors), and why it matters to the larger world, future students, and other audiences we have yet to identify.

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Dr. Westenley Alcenat on CNN’s Erin Burnett’s OutFront

Our colleague, Dr. Westenley Alcenat, appeared on CNN’s Erin Burnett’s OutFront on May 4, 2019, and June 19, 2019, to discuss reparations.  

You can watch both of his appearances here:

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BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Yuko Miki!

We are thrilled to announce that the American Historical Association has awarded Dr. Yuko Miki’s, Frontiers of Citizenship: A Black and Indigenous History of Postcolonial Brazil (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018), the Wesley-Logan Prize for the best book in African diaspora history. Please reach out to Dr. Yuko Miki at ymiki1@fordham.edu to send her your heartfelt congratulations on receiving this wonderful achievement!!!

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Forthcoming HGSA Workshops

 “Dissecting an Article: the Writing and Publishing Process”

Wednesday, October 16th,  1:00pm

“Digital Humanities Presentation”

“Siege of Antioch Project” A collaborative project between scholars in the United Kingdom and Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. 

Thursday, November 14th, 5:00pm 

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New Faculty-Graduate Student Working Group – Narrating Slavery: Archives, Poetics, Politics.

Professors Yuko Miki and Laurie Lambert have started a Faculty-Graduate working group called Narrating Slavery: Archives, Poetics, Politics.

The purpose of the group is to create a collaborative space for faculty and graduate students working on questions related to slavery to share work and receive feedback on their research-in-progress over the course of two meetings per semester.

The first meeting is on Thursday, October 3, from 12 pm – 1:30 pm, at Plaza View Room, Lowenstein, Lincoln Center Campus. Refreshments will be served.

We will be discussing the recent issue of the New York Times Magazine “The 1619 Project,” remembering the landing of the first Africans in Virginia.
You can access the essays here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html

Their second meeting will be on Thursday, November 14, from 12 pm – 1:30 pm at the Plaza View Room. They will discuss an article in progress by Prof. Miki.

Please feel free to share this with any colleagues or graduate students whom you think might be interested. All are welcome, including faculty from other institutions in the area.

Please RSVP to Prof. Laurie Lambert at llambert3@fordham.edu or Prof. Yuko Miki at ymiki1@fordham.edu.

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Week Highlights

We are excited to announce just some of the fascinating activities members of the Fordham History Department have engaged in these last few weeks:

Prof. Rosemary Wakeman just edited and contributed an article to a special issue on “Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Culture” for the journal Built Heritage. The journal is published by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai. Her article on “Mid-Century Urban Avant-Gardes” compares Art Deco architecture in Shanghai and New York.

ISSUE 11 CONTENT | built-heritage
Prof. Rosemary Wakeman

Prof. Chris Dietrich just published a timely and thought-provoking piece in today’s Washington Post!” https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/09/27/how-war-forced-united-states-rethink-politics-oil/

You can follow Prof. Chris Dietrich on Twitter @CRWDietrich

Prof. Chris Dietrich

Prof. Amanda Armstrong-Price gave a fascinating presentation at NYU entitled “Strains of Permissiveness, Fields of Force: Governing Intimacies along the Railways of Colonial India.” The talk was hosted by The Postcolonial, Race, and Diaspora Studies Colloquium at NYU. You can find more details of Prof. Armstrong-Price’s talk here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2525672297648631/

Prof. Amanda Armstrong-Price

Prof. Wes Alcenat recently published a thought-provoking piece, “Freedom Without Citizenship, Reconciliation without Reparations,” on the African American Intellectual Historical Society’s award-winning blog, “Black Perspectives.”  https://www.aaihs.org/freedom-without-citizenship-reconciliation-without-reparations/

You can follow Prof. Wes Alcenat on Twitter at @wesalcenat

Prof. Wes Alcenat

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Postcard: Hello from King’s College

Jeffrey DoolittleOn December 7, 2018, History Ph.D. candidate Jeffrey Doolittle gave a paper entitled “‘Efficassimum est Alexandrinum’: Drugs and Efficacy in Early Medieval Latin Pharmacology” at the “Drugs in the Medieval World, ca. 1050-ca. 1400” conference held at the Strand Campus of King’s College London. This two-day conference, organized by Dionysios Stathakopoulos and Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, featured papers on the transcultural transmission of information about materia medica (medical ingredients) during the middle ages and brought together some of the best scholars working on medical texts in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Tibetan sources.

 

Jeffrey’s paper analyzed the growing connections between drugs, geography and efficacy in a series of related recipe collections in Latin which were extracted from the medical portions of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. Focusing on a set of dental recipes and their subtle changes from manuscript to manuscript, Jeffrey noted that the ninth century marked a dramatic increase in the complexity and precision of new recipes added to older collections. These ninth-century recipe additions also showed a proliferation of the ingredients they required, along with a significant expansion of the medical applications of ingredients sourced from distant regions. These discoveries reflect a subtle rethinking of Pliny’s works along with the spread of new medical assumptions about particular substances and their places of provenance. The papers delivered at the conference are to be published in a forthcoming volume.

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O’Connell Initiative Lunch with Fordham Historians

On Tuesday, December 4th, graduate students and faculty members gathered to listen to Dr. Yuko Miki and Dr. Christopher Dietrich speak about their research funded by the O’Connell Initiative.

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Pre- Occupied Spaces with Dr. Teresa Fiore of Montclair State University

Dr. Teresa Fiore

Dr. Teresa Fiore

On October 24th, the History Department, along with the Modern Language Department hosted Dr. Teresa Fiore, author of Pre -Occupied Spaces:  Remapping Italy’s Transnational Ligations and Colonial Legacies  (Fordham University Press, 2017) to speak about Italy’s history of emigration to all continents of the world, as well as its recent history of immigrants coming to Italy. Dr. Fiore is the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. She is an expert in migration studies from a socio-cultural perspective. In particular, she focuses on immigration to Italy and the worldwide Italian diaspora. Her recent book, as well as her talk, emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to research and cultural analysis.

Dr. Fiore’s focus on socioeconomic contexts and cultural texts demonstrate the ways in which Italy is presently ‘pre-occupied’ with its past emigration, as well as colonialism. Dr. Fiore spoke to a room full of captivated students about how “the contemplative understanding of Italian civilization cannot be understood without the rigorous reconsideration of the inflation of its outbound and inbound migrations, as well as its colonialism and imperialism.” From early Italian diaspora to recent demographic stagnation, her presentation linked Italy’s long history of movement.

 

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Filed under Department Events, Publications

Graduate Student Publication: Glauco Schettini and “Building the Third Rome”

Current doctoral student, Glauco Schettini, has published an article in the journal for the Association for the study of Modern Italy. He has written a description of his work available below!

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