On Friday, May 5 students of the Medieval Political Cultures Conference staged a successful half-day conference presenting the research conducted over the 2016-7 academic year. The students had organized the conference over the past weeks, putting together a program of four panels of papers that drew out common themes across their respective research projects. Each panel consisted of three papers, with ample time for questions at the end of each. They addressed a large audience of their peers from Fordham’s medieval graduate programs, Fordham faculty, distinguished visitors, and their friends and family. For pictures from the conference and commentary that was posted on social media, you can read the storify here or follow it below.
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Join us Tuesday, October 25 in Keating 1st Auditorium, where Fordham History faculty member Nicholas Paul will talk about the twin phenomena of death and disappearance at great distance in the age of the crusades. Dr. Paul’s research into missing crusaders stems from his 2012 book To Follow in their Footsteps: The Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages, which last year was awarded the John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America. Reflecting on the research that he did for the book, Dr. Paul will talk about the larger problem of death and disappearance, especially when soldiers are fighting at very great distances from their homelands, and the implications of these experiences for their own communities. Why do some societies, like United States in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, become consumed by a sense of loss and the urgency of recovery, and what technologies have evolved to combat war’s most insidious consequence: oblivion?
One of the greatest advantages to working as a historian in New York City is the vast archive that is the city itself: the people, the architecture, the social and cultural footprints that they leave behind. We recently reached out to Fordham History MA student Scott Brevda to learn about his oral history project concerning the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. This is what he told us:
As part of my graduate work with the Fordham University History Department, I developed the Jackson Heights Oral History Project. As a third generation and lifelong resident of Jackson Heights, I had spent my life immersed in the residents’ stories of this area its history, and the history of its preservation. I set out on this project to memorialize, in their words, their stories and the history of this neighborhood.
The project had two primary focuses. The first centered on the historic character and associated preservation of Jackson Heights. Mainly built between the Two World Wars, the planned community of Jackson Heights had been constructed as a city within a city intended for those commuting to work in Manhattan. Designed and built under the tenets of the Garden Movement, Jackson Heights’s commercial and residential buildings where structured to emphasize light, air, and space – things often lacking in a city. The sunrooms, terraces, and interior & exterior gardens found in the historic residential area were included providing its residents a place to escape the sounds and smells of the city. Containing some of the first and most preserved examples of garden apartments in the United States, Jackson Heights– at the behest of its residents – was granted the status of Historic District by the City of New York in 1993. This status creates common standards for residential and commercial structures and prevents developments or alterations which deviate from those criteria.
The interviewees are comprised, generally, of two different groups: the first being community leaders known to be involved in preservation; the second, an eclectic mix of current and former neighborhood residents. What quickly became apparent, after the first few interviews, was that most residents belonging to the second group were not familiar with their neighborhood’s exceptional history. Those of the first group, like Gloria Daini and Daniel Karatzas, are those who were and are actively involved in the preservation of Jackson Heights and understood its history. However, based on the interviews, the average Jackson Heights resident does not understand the historic character of Jackson Heights in preservationist terms and concepts. Never the less, the interviewees not familiar with the aforesaid preservationist terms posses an instinctual or intuitive understanding of the area’s “character.” They denote the area as different, special, something worthy of protection even though they cannot precisely identify what that something is.
This project’s second focus was a more general one: to record the resident’s personal stories of and within Jackson Height. These detailed recollections of the neighborhood proved truly enchanting. Their vivid retrospectives and narratives from decades past quickly came to dominate the interviews. They were engaging and enthralling to the point of distraction; I found myself mesmerized more times than I would care to admit. One of the more memorable interviews was conducted jointly with Fred Anderes and Ann Agranoff, who have lived together in Jackson Heights for decades. Having raised their daughter in one of the Historic District’s garden apartment – which they still inhabit – they recounted the trouble mixing children with many of the building’s residents. This conflict reached its zenith in the use of the building’s private interior garden when the other residents would only allow children to be in the garden as long as they did not run on the grass (the garden is nearly all grass), yell, play sports, or other activities which hallmark childhood. Such disputes are as old as Jackson Heights itself; as the New York Times just recently highlighted in the article “Co-op Wars: Do You Dare Walk on the Grass?”
Another was conducted with Daniel Dromm, Councilman for the 25th District comprising Jackson Heights and surrounding neighborhoods. His first-hand insights into the politics and legal mechanisms of city government which enforces landmarks protections were insightful. Councilman Dromm was delightfully candid about the political realities of historic preservation in his district and the City at large. Furthermore, his experiences in finding both acceptance and a home in Jackson Heights and in its LGBT community underscores both the neighborhood’s exceptional diversity and the continuing debate over LGBT issues that has only become relevant in the past few decades and recently.
With over 20 interviews comprising native, non-native, and previous Jackson Heights residents, the interviews provide an intimate look at the historic preservation and individual histories of one of the most diverse and historic communities in New York. Each interview contains a different facet of life in the neighborhood from the recent arrivals to the long term residents. I am happy to announce that the Project is now viewable online. For those who are interested in listening to the interviews, they may be found at www.jacksonheightsoralhistory.org I hope, time permitting, to expand the project.
On May 4, 2016 the Fordham University chapter of Phi Alpha Theta inducted sixteen new members: Alexander B. Simeone,Christina M. Storino, Caitlin Hufnagle, Matthew McCormack,Sarah Homer, Ahmad Awad, Mary Ryan, Ariana Bottalico, Andrew O. Kayaian, Allison Burns, Patrick Nolan, Joseph O’Brien, Amy Palen, Alison Blitz, Kyle Stelzer, and Olivia Balsamo.
This year Phi Alpha Theta sponsored, a lecture by Fordham faculty member Alex Novikoff, “Medievalism in the Modern World” and planned a panel discussion–in conjunction with the Urban Studies Department and the Dorothy Day Center– called “Robert Moses: Master Builder or Great Destroyer”, featuring Fordham faculty members Rober, Panetta, Rosemary Wakeman, Chris Rhomber, and Steven Stoll.
Congratulations to all the new inductees, and to out-going Phi Alpha Theta President, History major Priscilla Consolo, who will be attending NYU law school next year on a full scholarship!
Happy Spring Break! We’re looking back at moments in 1911, 1934, 1935, 1937 and 1945! March historically was an exciting month for Fordham University! Read on to find out about women’s enrollment at Fordham, what exciting historical artifact Fordham acquired in 1935, and Dean James Walsh’s feelings on commercialism.
Professor Novikoff will speak at Columbia University in an interdisciplinary panel featuring historians and anthropologists in dialogue about their work and their methodologies. The distinguished panel includes 4 Columbia faculty and Fordham medievalist, Alex Novikoff. The event is free and open to the public: March 24 (2:10PM).
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.
Graduate students and fellows from the History Department and the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham, under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Paul and Dr. Laura Morreale from each department respectively, are collaborating in an effort to open up the conversation and further understand a 13th century map which has not previously been studied in depth. Their project is called The Oxford Outremer Map and it is their goal to “use digital tools and the open global forum of the internet to bring to light a neglected medieval intellectual and cultural artifact.” Through the creation of their website, these collaborators not only hope to provide someone with a foundation of understanding of the map but also encourage other scholars to analyze it and contribute to the unfolding discussion.
Toby Hrynick, a first year PhD student in the History Department who received his MA in Medieval Studies, has been working on the project since its inception in the summer of 2014. On November 6, Toby will be taking the map project on the road, giving a conference paper about the map and participating in a digital workshop at the Haskins Society‘s Conference at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
We talked to Toby to get some more details on the project and his experience working on the map… Continue reading
The Fordham History Department congratulates the Class of 2015. Fordham History Faculty were present at graduation to witness the degree ceremony for our graduates from the undergraduate colleges of Rose Hill and Lincoln Center and to participate in the special ceremony for the conferral of MA and PhD degrees in History. Keep reading for some photographic highlights.