Esther Liberman Cuenca (PhD History, 2019), now an assistant professor at the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV), has recently been awarded three fellowships. They include a UHV Junior Faculty Grant for summer 2021, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society 2022-23, and a Junior Mellon Membership at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies for 2022-23. She will spend her time in Princeton revising her Fordham doctoral dissertation into a monograph entitled “The Making of Urban Customary Law in Medieval Britain.” Dr Cuenca has also recently published “Led Zeppelin— ‘Immigrant Song’: Viking Medievalisms and the Afterlife of Classic Rock,” in One-Track Mind: Capitalism and the Art of the Pop Song (London: Routledge, 2022). In 2023, she has an essay forthcoming in Continuity and Change and is serving as guest editor of “Representations of the Medieval in Popular Culture: Remembering the Angevins,” a special collection for Open Library of Humanities.
Category Archives: Alumni News
Former undergraduate student Melanie Sheehan (class of 2017) has been offered the Harvard-Newcomen Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the 2022-2023 academic year. She is a current PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Melanie is currently finishing her dissertation, titled “Opportunities Foregone: US Industrial Unions and the Politics of International Economic Policy, 1949-1983,” which demonstrates the critical but underexplored role of trade union leaders in shaping US international trade and investment policy. The project draws on research from business archives at Hagley Museum and Library and labor archives at the Walter P. Reuther Library, the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, Penn State University, and the International Institute of Social History, as well as several presidential libraries.
Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality.
Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality. The prize, for her article, “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England,” Urban History 46:2 (2019): 180-201, was established by the Medieval Academy of America in 1971 and consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $500. It will be presented at the Academy’s 2021 Annual Meeting, hosted online by Indiana University, Bloomington. She is one of two winners of the award this year. The prize committee submitted the following citation.
In her perceptive and finely-crafted essay Esther Liberman Cuenca examines the expertise and duties of clerks in medieval English towns, and particularly their roles in creating custumals, or collections of written customs. She highlights and traces two fundamental aspects of clerks’ authorship, their legal and administrative expertise, and their roles in transmitting urban laws to posterity. Urban historians of the Middle Ages are familiar with custumals, documents found in almost every medieval towns that regulated the lives of their citizens, from markets and commerce to administration, social mores and hygiene. While historians usually locate and frame analyses of the documents within the history of urban politics and “normalization”, they rarely study who actually drafted them. Cuenca’s innovative article engages the historiography of urban literacy, and of the anonymous professionals who supported literacy within an urban institutional framework. Her careful analysis of their oaths and administrative practices, which often adapted older materials, reveals that town clerks played critical roles in transmitting customary law to future generations of administrators. Clerks were usually left in the shadow of their superior, and the vital contribution of Cuenca’s work is to bring these individuals to light by focusing on the creation, organization, and preservation of urban custumals, and most of all on their authorship. Were these clerks scriptores, compilatores, or commentators? By showing that they fulfilled all of these roles, Cuenca reaffirms their existence in urban memory.
Recent History Ph.D. Esther Liberman Cuenca (who got a tenure-track job at the University of Houston, Victoria last year) Published in The Paris Review.
On September 17, 2020, a recent History Ph.D. from Fordham, Esther Liberman Cuenca (who got a tenure-track job at the University of Houston, Victoria last year) just published a very lively piece, “A Medieval Mother Tries Distance Learning,” in The Paris Review about advice that Dhuoda, a 9th-century noblewoman, wrote for her son who was a political hostage and thus separated from her.
Her Twitter handle is @EstherLCuenca.
Former Fordham History Professor Carina E. Ray published “Could the Police Kill Me, Too?’ My Young Son Asked Me” in The New York Times.
On June 20, 2020, former Fordham history Professor Carina Rey, now at Brandeis University, published an op-ed piece in The New York Times called, “”Could the Police Kill Me, Too?’” You can read the piece on this link: https://nyti.ms/2Bma1UL
Graduate Student James Smith Becomes Dr. James Smith! Dr. Smith Defends, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”
We would like to congratulate Dr. James Smith on passing his dissertation defense on April 29, 2020. He becomes only the second person in the history of the Fordham’s History Department to pass his dissertation virtually.
Dr. Smith’s dissertation is titled, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”
Below is his dissertation abstract:
The dissertation argues that Carter, Reagan, and other domestic and international actors deployed the ideals of universal human rights and state sovereignty as a political language. The protean meanings they assigned to the terms of that language were contingent upon calculations of political and strategic interests. The discourse of rights and sovereignty in domestic and international politics served as a means to justify or check political change, rather than as nonideological, moral, and legal imperatives. In short, Carter, Reagan, and others used morality and law as political strategy. The study proceeds from an analysis of records from the Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries. The personal papers of Patricia Derian, Barry Goldwater, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Donald Fraser provide additional context for the political uses of rights and sovereignty. So too, the papers of William Casey, Warren Christopher, and many of their contemporaries archived at the Hoover Institute enriched this analysis. The author also analyzed digital and other published collections of primary documents, interviewed and corresponded with former public officials, and reviewed memoirs, diaries, interview transcripts, and Congressional hearings and reports. While the dissertation probes the official mind of Washington in the manner of traditional diplomatic history, it also broadens that perspective by assessing how competing domestic and international actors deployed the conflicting ideals of rights and sovereignty. The dissertation builds upon the secondary literature by examining how Carter and others deployed human rights and non-intervention in the 1970s and 1980s. It connects that discourse to the history of U.S. foreign relations, domestic politics, international law, and the movement for economic decolonization. Then, after examining Carter’s embrace of rights and non-intervention as a campaign strategy and the contentious transformation of that rhetoric into policy, the dissertation employs as case studies U.S. relations with Panama, Nicaragua, and Iran. Finally, the dissertation assesses continuity and change in Reagan’s use of the ideals of rights and sovereignty in a foreign policy marked by anti-communism and democracy promotion.
You can reach Dr. James Smith at email@example.com if you are interested in learning more about this fabulous dissertation.
The content below has copied and pasted from the Council for European Studies website:
The European Studies Book Award shortlist has been announced and it includes many notable and exciting books. The award honors the work of talented scholars who have written their first book on any subject in European Studies published within a two-year period. A multi-disciplinary Book Award Committee appointed by the Council for European Studies’ Executive Committee will choose the winner. Listed below are the shortlisted books.
News from Germany: The Competition to Control World Communications, 1900-1945 by Heidi J. Tworek (Harvard University Press);
Organic Resistance: The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France by Venus Bivar (The University of North Carolina Press);
Antiauthoritarian Youth Culture in Francoist Spain by Louie Dean Valencia-García (Bloomsbury Academic);
To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture by Eleonory Gilburd (Harvard University Press);
The First Modern Risk: Workplace Accidents and the Origins of European Social States by Julia Moses (Cambridge University Press);
The Return of Alsace to France, 1918-1939 by Alison Carrol (Oxford University Press);
Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps after 1945 by Emma Kuby (Cornell University Press);
The Growth of Shadow Banking: A Comparative Institutional Analysis by Matthias Thiemann (Cambridge University Press).
This year’s jury is made up of: Megan Brown, Lindsey Chappell, Jonah Levy, Brittany Murray, Thomas Nolden (Chair), and Mark Vail.
Past awardees of the prize include Max Bergholz for Violence as a Generative Force: Identity, Nationalism, and Memory in a Balkan Community, Francine Hirsch for Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union, Chip Gagnon for The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s, Todd Shepard for his book, The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France (Cornell University Press), Mark I. Choate’s Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad, Bonnie M. Meguid’s Party Competition between Unequals: Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe, Paulina Bren for her book The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring, and Harris Mylonas for The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities.”
History Department Friends,
On a rainy Friday afternoon in January 2017, I had quite the decision to make: to accept a position teaching Asian and European history at The Derryfield School (DS)—an independent college preparatory school in Manchester, New Hampshire—or fly to Florida (on Monday!) for a campus interview for an assistant professorship at a state college. I chose Derryfield that evening and moved to Concord, NH with my family that summer. A year and a half later, I cannot emphasize enough how excited I am about my decision. In this regard, I want to share my experience with the History Department and encourage current doctoral students who are falling in love with teaching to consider pursuing positions at both the prep school and university level.
Throughout the course of my time at Fordham, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach extensively at the Rose Hill and Westchester campuses. In the process, I came to realize just how much I love being in the classroom and engaging with driven young people. I felt gratified by my academic success in publishing peer-reviewed articles and giving talks on my scholarship (I am still proud of my presentation at The Korea Society!) But increasingly, what excited me the most was how I felt after leaving the classroom each day—the electric buzz of debates about ethical dilemmas in history, of competing views about the significance of personal subjectivity in analyzing ordinary and extraordinary times.
As I approached graduating with my Ph.D. in May 2016, this passion drove me to pursue positions at prep schools and colleges as I considered how to best make teaching the centerpiece of my academic career.
As I now teach at Derryfield, my days are filled with endless historical debates with thoughtful and enthusiastic young people. The youth of high school students—quite different from teaching college juniors and seniors!—fosters an exciting classroom environment. At the dawn of their formative years, my students prove unusually open to taking risks with their ideas; they lack an intellectual self-consciousness that sometimes constrains debates in higher education. With this appreciation, I have found the energy of adolescents inspiring; the pot boils, so to speak. I use diverse primary sources (period music, memoirs, films etc.) and frequent debates (mock U.S.-DPRK nuclear negotiations!) to encourage that vibrant environment. I take pride as teenagers learn to think critically, but also to feel history and empathize with the humanity of individuals in the past and present.
In terms of scholarship, I am enjoying the opportunity this summer to read and write on topics related and unrelated to my area of expertise in US-DPRK relations. I have, for example, been writing on US foreign policy with Iran and North Korea in my local newspaper, the Concord Monitor, in an effort to shape such conversations at a grassroots level. (Links to my most recent pieces below.) I have two forthcoming book reviews coming out with the Journal of American-East Asian Relations. In addition, I am currently beginning a book project, focusing on key historical events in the early personal lives of deplorable dictators (See the short story “Genesis and Catastrophe: A True Story” by Roald Dahl, and you’ll understand).
Fordham and the History Department (as well as Beth Knobel in the communications department!) enabled me to gain indispensable teaching experience and allowed me to discover my passion for teaching. I remain thankful, moreover, for having had the opportunity to learn from a master pedagogue like Elaine Crane. (I’ll never forget Dr. Crane’s admonishment in the “Teaching History” course when I used the word “plethora.” “Use straightforward language! No one is impressed with your GRE vocabulary!” Dr. Crane stated in her oh-so-gentle manner of speaking for which she is deservedly celebrated.)
As doctoral students move towards the completion of their programs and begin to pursue professorships at the university level, I strongly encourage them—if teaching is a true passion—to consider positions at the prep school level as well. I would be happy to discuss such a path with anyone who is interested.
Brandon K. Gauthier, Ph.D.
“A win for Kim,” Concord Monitor, June 15, 2018
“North Korea’s games,” Concord Monitor, June 4, 2018
“Why would anyone trust the US?” Concord Monitor, May 12, 2018
Philadelphia was the location on the weekend of October 26-29 for the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). For the conference, Professor Asif Siddiqi organized a panel titled “Democratizing the Technologies of Pop Music: Songs in the Key of Gender, Fandom and Digital Sampling.” The panel forms the basis for a new book project by Professor Siddiqi, a collection of essays provisionally titled One Track Mind. The book will bring together academics and cultural critics to talk about Continue reading
Dr. Laurence Jurdem (Ph.D, 2015) sat down recently with The Washington Post‘s podcast to discuss his July 2017 article, “Fighting his party in Congress didn’t work for FDR. It won’t work for Trump.” Dr. Jurdem was motivated to write the article by the news of President Trump’s frustration with members of his own party and his efforts to recruit candidates to run in primaries in the hopes of defeating those members of the GOP who disagree with him. In his article, Dr. Jurdem argues that the current situation is similar to FDR’s attempts to encourage primary challenges to those southern Democrats in 1938 who were unhappy with the “New Deal” policies that Roosevelt was pursuing. With the podcast interview Dr. Jurdem provided context about how delicate the New Deal coalition was and how its complexities resemble the many parts of today’s Republican Party. It was the first podcast interview for Dr. Jurdem and he reports that he very much enjoyed it. To listen to the interview, click here. Continue reading