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
Category Archives: Postcards
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!