Category Archives: Faculty Profiles

What Is Global History at Fordham? (Part 1 – Prof. Asif Siddiqi)

In this new series, “What is Global History at Fordham,” we will hear from members of Fordham’s Global History consortium on what global history means to them and how it shapes their work.

Today, we begin with Professor Asif Siddiqi.

“As a historian of science and technology, global history is neither world history nor is there one single version of it. Instead, my research is focused on highlighting the many globally connected histories of science and technology. Instead of looking at (for example), German science or a Japanese nuclear reactor or a Russian satellite, our approach would consider larger concepts such as mobility or waste or infrastructure and reconstruct their global manifestations and changes across time and space. Our teaching will give you the tools to investigate, research and write your own version of a globally connected history.”

You can follow Prof. Asif Siddiqi on Twitter @historyasif

Asif Siddiqi


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How A Mystery Torah Ended Up In An Online Thrift Store Selling For $456

Here is an excerpt of an article featuring our colleague, Prof. Daniel Soyer.

“In 1938, there were at least eight Berdichev societies in New York, said Daniel Soyer, a professor of history at Fordham University and the author of a book about Jewish immigration societies. Though Soyer said that none of these societies were religious, it was common practice for a landsmanshaft to sponsor the creation of a Torah on behalf of their hometown. That means the scroll could have belonged to a congregation that had no connection to Berdichev, but did have a connection to someone from there. Alternatively, it could have been the property of someone whose name was Berdichev, Soyer said.”

You can read more here:

Image result for Daniel Soyer
Prof. Daniel Soyer

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Oil Revolution: Congratulations to Professor Christopher Dietrich

Chris and his book at the Bronx Beer Hall

Big news this week as Cambridge University Press announces the publication of the new book Oil Revolution:Anticolonial Elites, Sovereign Rights, and the Economic Culture of Decolonization by Fordham History’s own Professor Christopher Dietrich. The eagerly awaited volume is the result of many years of scholarship by Dietrich. Emerging from his doctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin, Dietrich’s book tackles a topic of major significance, not only for the history of twentieth-century US foreign relations, but to the shape of the world today:

According to the website of Cambridge University Press:

Through innovative and expansive research, Oil Revolution analyzes the tensions faced and networks created by anti-colonial oil elites during the age of decolonization following World War II. This new community of elites stretched across Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Algeria, and Libya. First through their western educations and then in the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, these elites transformed the global oil industry. Their transnational work began in the early 1950s and culminated in the 1973–4 energy crisis and in the 1974 declaration of a New International Economic Order in the United Nations. Christopher R. W. Dietrich examines how these elites brokered and balanced their ambitions via access to oil, the most important natural resource of the modern era.

The History Department remembers fondly when leading scholars in Dietrich’s field, including  Mark Bradley of the University of Chicago, Monica Kim of NYU and Craig Daigle at City College joined Fordham’s own Asif Siddiqi and other faculty and students to workshop the book manuscript in the Spring semester of 2015. It was clear then that this was an exciting project, and the glowing series of endorsements from major figures in Dietrich’s field on the book’s back cover make it clear that he has brought the project to its full fruition. Congratulations Chris!

Oil Revolution: Anticolonial Elites, Soveriegn Rights, and the Economic Culture of Decolonization by Christopher Dietrich is currently available in paperback and hardback.





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The Professor and the Process: Rosemary Wakeman and Practicing Utopia

This last year, the department’s own Professor Rosemary Wakeman published her examination of the twentieth-century new town movement with the University of Chicago Press. Practicing Utopia: An Intellectual History of the New Town Movement tracks the global phenomenon as it ignored traditional political and geographic boundaries as each location strived for its own vision of an idealized city.

Discussing another historian’s work, from its inception to completion and the problems they encounter along the way, personally helps me realize my own research may be more fantastic reality rather than realistic fantasy (you mean I’m not the only one who feels like they spend more time than necessary getting archival permission?). Thankfully, Dr. Wakeman was able to take some time away from her schedule to discuss with me the process and problems for Practicing Utopia.

History Department: So how did the research for this book begin?

Rosemary Wakeman: Like many projects, I begin research while writing on Paris and its postwar development. The housing crisis and new towns in the Paris region led to the overwhelming sources on new towns in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia. It was impossible not to follow the trail.

HD: So what began in Paris developed into a worldwide study? How long did it take then to write the book?

RM: The book was written during a year-long fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in Wassenaar, the Netherlands. Another 8+ months followed hunting for images and permissions, working with the editors at the University of Chicago Press to put together the final version.

HD: As a book that developed from Paris into a worldwide study, where does this fit into your overall research?

RM: My longstanding interest is in European urban history, especially the second half of the 20th century. The new towns book gave me the chance to explore urban history, architecture and urban planning in central and eastern Europe.

HD: Did exploring these topics then lead you into any new avenues of research?

RM: This has led to a new project on An Urban History of Europe, 1815 to the Present, which will be published by Bloomsbury Press. Another upcoming project speaks to my interest in continuing a global perspective and will examine the connections between Bombay, London, and Shanghai in the mid-20th century.

HD: It sounds like the trail hasn’t ended then. Have there been any bumps in that trail, such as problems that kept you awake at night dreading some aspect of the project?

RM: What kept me up at night was the choice of which new towns and architect-planners to include in the book and how to organize them around an intellectual history. Finding images and permissions was also difficult. Nonetheless, the project was an opportunity to be in contact with archivists and researchers in new towns literally all over the world. This was an immense pleasure and one of the great benefits of doing historical research.

Thanks so much to Professor Wakeman for taking the time to answer our questions.

When she is not away writing wonderful books, Professor Wakeman teaches frequently in the History graduate program and has served as Director of the O’Connell Initiative in the History of Global Capitalism.


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The Professor and the Process: Dr. Richard Gyug and The Bishop’s Book of Kotor

Liturgy and Law in a Dalmatian City
The Bishop’s Book of Kotor (Sankt-Peterburg, BRAN, F. no. 200).
ISBN: 978-0-88844-204-8

The History Department was lucky enough to catch up with its very own Prof. Richard Gyug to discuss his newest book, Liturgy and Law in a Dalmatian City: The Bishop’s Book of Kotor (Sankt-Peterburg, BRAN, F. no. 200). Prof. Gyug has recently returned to campus after a semester’s leave. He has been research fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (PIMS) where he continued work on his long-running funded project the Monumenta Liturgica Beneventana. Our interview with Prof. Gyug will hopefully give hope and insight to many scholars, especially those starting out like the Fordham MA students now beginning their spring projects, as we discussed the process: how does a project move from an idea to a finished product like a book?

History Department: First thing’s first I suppose, how did the project begin?

Dr. Richard Gyug: The present volume is a study and edition of a medieval manuscript. A much shorter version of the study and two of the four parts of the edition were my doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto (1984). The manuscript on which the edition is based is cited several times before 1800 when it was still in Kotor in Montenegro, where it was written and used in the middle ages. After that it disappeared until being noted again by Ljudmila Kisseleva of the Academy of Science in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad). Because the manuscript is written in Beneventan script, which was used in southern Italy and Dalmatia from 800 to 1300 or so, after Kisseleva’s note Virginia Brown listed the manuscript in her 1980 revised edition of E.A. Lowe’s The Benventan Script (original edition 1914). I was then at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, where Brown was, and her colleague, Roger Reynolds, introduced the manuscript to me in a seminar. I continued to work on it, and made it my dissertation.

Plate 4 from Gyug, Liturgy and Law. This is fol. 70v in the Pontifical of Kotor (St. Petersburg, RASL, F. 200) and is part of the dedication of a church with notated antiphons and an added communal document. The photograph is by Alexander Karnachov © Sankt-Peterburg, BRAN.

HD: After finally being introduced to the manuscript, how long was the process and its different stages?

RG: Very long! In preparing that dissertation, I noted which parts of the manuscript had music, but did not study them, an omission typical of liturgical editions then and now. At the defense, Andrew Hughes, a distinguished musicologist, noted this lack and stressed how important the music was for understanding the composition and use of the book. Of course, he was correct, so before continuing work on the present book, I edited a missal from Dubrovnik in which music was a major component. After that book came out, I worked on other similar manuscripts associated with a long-term grant-funded project, the Monumenta Liturgica Beneventana, of which I was a member with the late Virginia Brown and Roger Reynolds. I picked up the present manuscript again in the mid-1990s and have been working on it off and on since over several research leaves.


HD: This manuscript seems like a regular in your research. Where does the book and this research fit in to your broader research questions?

RG: It’s a liturgical manuscript in Beneventan script. Such manuscripts are the principal topic of the Monumenta Liturgica Beneventan project, so it’s been a key part of the team project.


HD: Did your research on this book lead you into any immediate upcoming projects? If so, would you care to share what those are?

RG: I have continued to work on Beneventan manuscripts from Italy and Dalmatia, and thanks to the comparisons needed for the edition, also on liturgical manuscripts in other scripts from the region. So, it has led to several projects:

(1) a partial edition and study of a Beneventan manuscript containing Breviary and Ritual, which is priest’s manual. This manuscript is extraordinary because it was written in the fourteenth century, late for Beneventan, for use in Albania, which was outside the Beneventan zone, and the manuscript contains a Franciscan liturgy, rare in Beneventan, which is usually Benedictine and monastic. This study was begun and almost completed by my late colleague Virginia Brown, and I am finishing it at her request.

(2) a study of the relationships between Benevetan manuscripts with similar contents (i.e., the services proper to a bishop) and several related non-Beneventan manuscripts from Norman-Sicily, Bari in southern Italy, and Dubrovnik and Trogir in Dalmatia.

(3) the cataloguing of liturgical and other fragments at Montecassino


Thanks to Professor Gyug for taking the time to talk with us, and congratulations on this handsome book!


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Kirsten Swinth Discusses Mothers and American Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s


 Professor Kirsten Swinth was recently interviewed by Fordham News to talk about her work on American feminism of the 1960s and 1970s.  She told them the story of how mothers finally achieved the legal right to have a job in 1971.

This story is part of her forthcoming book from Harvard University Press, For Work and Family: A Real Feminist History of “Having it All”

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Challenging Assumptions: A Conversation with Steven Stoll

Profesor Steven Stoll

Professor Steven Stoll

Steven Stoll became a member of the Fordham History Department in 2008.  His classes and research focus on the history of capitalism and environmental history and more specifically how these two topics intersect. Stoll’s work is extremely relevant today as politicians and scientists debate climate change; activists and industry clash over fracking; California struggles through drought; and farmers raise ethical concerns about GMOs. But what is environmental history? For Stoll, environmental history is the story of how humans have changed the planet, how societies have lived well (or not so well) with the environment, and how different societies at different points in time have thought about ‘nature’.  He explained that people’s ideas about the Earth and the environment have changed drastically over the last 400 years. Stoll said, “Students, and a lot of other people, look at New York City and how we live today—the kinds of houses we live in, the kinds of energies and conveniences we have—and though they know it hasn’t always been this way, they assume that all of this is normal, that things are supposed to be this way.. I try to show them that our way of life has existed for an astonishingly short period of time. To me, the most exciting use of history is to take ideas that people think are universal or derived from ‘nature’ and reveal their recent origins.”  


Steven Stoll giving a lecture at Yale University entitled "The Captured Garden: Substance Under Capitalism" in 2013. The lecture is available as a video on the Yale University Website.

Steven Stoll giving a lecture at Yale University entitled “The Captured Garden: Substance Under Capitalism” in 2013. The lecture is available as a video on the Yale University Website.

                   Professor Stoll questions the notion of progress, his views are in direct opposition to what most of his students and readers learned growing-up in Western society. Walt Disney World’s Carousel of Progress celebrates progress without any critical examination and perpetuates the idea that each new technological advancement is an inevitable improvement to society.  However, Stoll argues that there is no “spirit of progress embedded in human history” driving technological change. He explains that technological progress “occurs for very specific reasons, but always because someone invents something that fulfills a social goal.” What constitutes progress depends on who benefits from technological change, he says. Stoll encourages his students and readers to step outside of their lives and experiences to critically examine the world.  


                   He laughed good naturedly while saying, “My courses are about how everything we know comes out of the past, just like any other historian.” His course on North American environmental history is not just abstract topics (like the nature of progress) but covers people, inventions, and events like the Erie Canal, the construction of American railroads, the fate of the passenger pigeon, the Ice-Age migration of American-Indians, and the history of industrialization. He explores the interaction between capitalism and the environment in his two books The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside in California and Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth- Century America.

Larding the Lean Earth by Steven Stoll published in 2002

Larding the Lean Earth by Steven Stoll published in 2002

 Stoll is currently working on his fifth book, which focuses geographically on the Appalachian Mountains. “At first, I didn’t really know what I wanted to say about it, honestly. It’s a big and complicated place. But I knew I wanted write about how the people who lived in the mountains lost their land, how mountain people who lived in log cabins became coal miners, not necessarily by choice, but how the industry and the state transformed their environment and forced them into wage work as the only way to make a living.” In his book on Appalachia, Stoll examines how ‘mountain people’ lived independently with their own system and means of survival and the factors led to the destruction of this way of life. He also explores aspects of mountain society itself, like population growth and environmental erosion, and also how society changed when “capital came into the mountains.” The book covers Appalachia between the Whiskey Rebellion and the Great Depression.

            Long after speaking with Dr. Stoll my brain was stuck on the slice of avocado I had with my lunch. Who grew this avocado? Who owned the land it was grown on? Who, if anyone, owned the genetic code in the seeds? Who picked and packaged this fruit? What are the conditions under which they work? If it was a California avocado, how much water did it take to grow this fruit? Who has the ‘right’ to water during a shortage,? It was just an avocado, which I had eaten so many                                                                            times before but now it was so much more than that.


If you’re interested in Steven Stoll’s work you can read his article “No Man’s Land” published online in the Orion Magazine, as well as his two books The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Country Side in California and Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America. And, of course, be on the look-out for his upcoming monograph on Appalachia.

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For Passover and Easter: Teter Organizes Events and Exhibits Related to Christian-Jewish Relations

The St. Louis Bible from the Leach Collection. To learn more about this collection read about it on here on the Medieval Studies blog

The St. Louis Bible from the Leach Collection. To learn more about this collection read about it here on the Medieval Studies blog


“Passover and Easter: A Polemical Encounter” is an exhibit currently open at Walsh Library in the O’Hare Special Collection room, mounted by Dr. Magda Teter Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History. This exhibit explores the history of Easter and Passover through manuscripts, books, and ephemera, with a particular emphasis on the biblical texts related to the holidays and several Haggadot, the sacred text read during the Passover Seder.  Among the items on display are engravings from two editions of the famous 15th century world chronicle that portray the bleeding of a child, with images of Jews as grotesque characters, the Easter issue of an Italian magazine, La difesa della razza (The Defense of Race), from 1940 that once again return to the theme of blood libel; German currency from 1922 that celebrates burning Jews, and an 1884 parody of the Haggadah by German artist Carl Maria Seyppel.  Tom Stoelker wrote an in depth article about the exhibit which can be read by following this link to the Center of Medieval Studies Venerable Blog. 




Dr. Magda Teter

Dr. Magda Teter

A Dramatic Reading of  Burning Words: A History Play by Peter Wortsman 

Dr. Magda Teter will be involved in Burning Words: A History Play, offering scholarly commentary during the multimedia reading. The play is about about zealotry, censorship, and religious tolerance, and recounts the moment in history when  “Johannes Reuchlin, a humanist Christian jurist, clashed with Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Jewish butcher converted to Christianity and a willing tool of the Dominican Order in their quest to burn Jewish books. ” Dr. Teter recently gave a lecture entitled “From Friendship to Hatred: The Catholic Church and the Jews” at the University of New Mexico as part of  the AJS Distinguished Lecture Series.

The play will take place on April 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm at The Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street New York, New York 10011)

Ticket Info: $15 general; $10 Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History members

We encourage members of the Fordham community to attend and support Dr. Teter  during this exciting innovative performance. More information about The Center for Jewish History and the play can be found on the center’s website. 

 Both of these events are excellent opportunities for students studying Christian-Jewish relations, like those currently taking Dr. Alex Novikoff’s Medieval Interfaith Relations graduate seminar.


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Professor Silvana Patriarca’s Research on Race and Nation in Post World War II Italy

Dr. Silvana Patriarca

Dr. Silvana Patriarca

Professor Silvana Patriarca is a faculty member in the Fordham University History department and specializes in modern Italian history. She is currently exploring the interaction between ideas of nation and “race” and working on a book about the history of racism in post-World War II Italy. Her new book will focus on “mixed-race” children born in Italy during the Allied occupation. These children were born to Italian mothers and non-white Allied soldiers, and were highly racialized in the post-war period.

Dr. Patriarca had initially started her research with a different topic in mind, but became interested in the post-war period when she discovered a lack of scholarship about race and racism in Italy after 1945. She began to focus on the experiences of mix-raced Italian children when she came across a 1961 Italian anthropometric study of a group of mixed-race children born during and right after WWII. T​he children ​ had been measured in all sorts of invasive way ​to determine ​the physical, intellectual, and psychological traits ​that distinguished them, as if they were a group apart from a racial standpoint. “I ​found the book offensive and asked myself​ what do we know about the experiences of these children? I wondered what happened to them ​at that time and ​after [these studies were finished]?” Dr. Patriarca said. She saw these racial studies as​ linked to the large issue of Italian identity, the war experience, and the trauma of defeat. Fascist and racist​ ideas still circulated throughout Italy after World War II and permeated the scientific community especially. “Of course mentalities are slow to change,” Dr. Patriarca explained “It was troubling that many historians could still not see the intersection of nation and race in the postwar period and the lingering effects of fascism​ and racism on national identity.”

Dr. Patriarca has been working on and off this project for three years now, and took a full year away from Fordham University to conduct research in Italy​. While there is very little secondary scholarship regarding this issue, there is no shortage of primary sources. Dr. Patriarca has found a plethora of diverse sources to work with including cinema, newspapers, scientific literature, and psychological studies. Along with these sources Dr. Patriarca is also using oral histor​y​ in her new book.  Although she has used oral histories in previous publications, she said interviewing people who have been racially stigmatized has been a challenging “learning experience.” Dr. Patriarca explained that collecting the stories of people who have experienced indignities, who have been discriminated against and racialized has been difficult and “emotionally intense,” but also​ rewarding from a human standpoint.

She intends to incorporate these interviews in the form of a dialogue. She explained she sees herself more as an “interview partner” than a formal interviewer. While the book focuses on the experiences and stories of these mixed-race individuals, it is at the same time a story that sheds light on the identity formation of contemporary Italians and thus involves her personally. To that point, she hopes to write a ​book that will be accessible to a larger audience while still ​being academically rigorous​. Dr. Patriarca said, “Historians should be encouraged to be more ​present in​ the public debate.”

You can read the first results of her research in her recently published article “Fear of Small Numbers: ‘Brown Babies’ in Postwar Italy,” Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell’800 e del ‘900 18:4 (Oct-Dec.2015).​ If you’re interested in finding more about​ Dr. Patriarca’s ​previous ​work be sure to read her book​: Italian Vices. Nation and Character from the Risorgimento to the Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2010); Ital. transl.: Italianità. La costruzione del carattere nazionale (Laterza, 2010)

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Sven Beckert’s “Empire of Cotton”: A Conversation

1922 Alexandria docks

Dockworkers load cotton in the port of Alexandria, Egypt, 1921

Faculty and students in the History Department are getting extremely excited about the upcoming November 5 event to launch the O’Connell Initiative in the Global History of Capitalism. The event, which  will feature a talk by Harvard University’s Sven Beckert on “Tracking the Global History of Capitalism,” is particularly exciting for the faculty who have read and been inspired by Beckert’s  award-winning 2014 book Empire of Cotton: A Global History. We asked two members of our faculty, David Hamlin and Christopher Dietrich, to sit down and share their thoughts on the book. Their conversation is transcribed below, and it represents both a wonderful entry point into the book’s larger themes and a meditation on the value of studying capitalism from a global perspective. Continue reading

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