Monthly Archives: May 2016

Grace Healy Wins 2016 O’Connell Research Prize

O'Connell Award winner Grace Healy with her mentor Professor Steven Stoll

O’Connell Award winner Grace Healy with her mentor Professor Steven Stoll

This year, in conjunction with the department’s O’Connell Initiative, the History Department awarded a $250 O’Connell Research Award for the most original graduate student research on the history of global capitalism. This year’s winner was MA student Grace Healy, who won for her final research paper entitled  “Swamp or Climax Region? Congressional Perceptions of the Everglades, 1947-1989” We asked Grace for details of her research, and she reports:


My project focused on the Everglades in South Florida, specifically the way in which members of Congress have thought about that landscape over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. As the people who mark the boundaries of land that will be preserved, I believe that congressmen’s perceptions of land, ecosystems, and the environment in general are an important aspect of conservation history.
Everglades map
I became interested in the Everglades because I enjoy analyzing the contradictory (or balanced, based on your perspective) way that Americans have managed land. For example, large portions of the Everglades are being protected because of its distinct environment. At the same time, however, vast tracts of the Everglades have been altered and manipulated for commercial reasons. I think that attempting to understand why certain types of landscapes are managed in these divergent forms is not only important to a historical understanding of the United States but also relevant to the environmental movement going forward.
Professor Stoll was an excellent mentor throughout this project. At times he pushed me to think more critically about certain aspects, at other times he knew exactly what text I should read to gain more insight. I think he was most helpful when I was I was still developing my ideas. It can be really difficult to find the right project that can be completed in about a semester and half. Professor Stoll really helped me tailor my ideas so I could deeply investigate this one important aspect of the Everglades.
Congratulations on the O’Connell Prize Grace!

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Congratulations to our 2016 graduates (a photo gallery)!

Last Saturday, May 21, saw the making of many new bachelors, masters, and doctorates in History. While we will miss our graduates, and the many adventures we shared with them exploring the past, we wish them the best of luck in the future.

(l-r) Drs. Clifton Watson, Brandon Gauthier, Alessandro Saluppo, and Louie Valencia Garcia

(l-r) Drs. Clifton Watson, Brandon Gauthier, Alessandro Saluppo, and Louie Valencia Garcia

2016-05-21 13.42.26 HDR

New Fordham PhD in History Clifton Watson with his mentor Professor Irma Watkins-Owens

(l-r) Professors Silvana Patriarca and Rosemary Wakeman congratulating Dr. Alessandro Saluppo

(l-r) Professors Silvana Patriarca and Rosemary Wakeman congratulating Dr. Alessandro Saluppo

Three medievalists. History MAs who specialized in the Middle Ages Nicole Scotto and Tatum Tullis (l and r, respectively) flanking Medieval Studies MA Anna Lukyanova

Three medievalists. History MAs who specialized in the Middle Ages Nicole Scotto and Tatum Tullis (l and r, respectively) flanking Medieval Studies MA Anna Lukyanova

Faculty selfie: (l-r) Professors Nicholas Paul, Christopher Dietrich, Sal Acosta, and Silvana Patriarca

Faculty selfie: (l-r) Professors Nicholas Paul, Christopher Dietrich, Sal Acosta, and Silvana Patriarca

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Listening to the History of Jackson Heights, America’s First Garden City

7565204288_c3bf5bd2dd_bOne 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 I hope, time permitting, to expand the project.

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2016 Phi Alpha Theta Inductions


PAT induction

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! 

IMG_0747IMG_0749 IMG_0744

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The Mannion Society: Seniors and their Final Projects

“Created by the Department of History to identify particularly impressive history majors and offer them an intensive introduction to research and writing history papers,” the History Department’s  Mannion Society invites students to join in their sophomore or junior year. By their senior year, therefore, Mannion Society members have had extensive training and supervision assisting them with their final projects. We reached out to graduating members of the Society to ask them about their projects. Here’s what they said:

James Berrigan

James Berrigan

James Berrigan

My project explored the ramifications of the introduction of the Stinger missile by the United States government to the mujahidin during the Soviet-Afghan War. During the war, the United States ran the largest covert operation in history, supplying the mujahidin with weapons with which to fight the Soviets. I argue that the introduction of the Stinger missile was the turning point in the war, as it had a great impact militarily, psychologically, and diplomatically. The Stinger allowed the mujahidin to effectively counter Soviet aerial attacks, punctured the Soviet aura of invincibility, and, most importantly, ended American plausible deniability. The Stinger proved American involvement in the war, which could have provoked an extreme Soviet response. The Stinger missile changed the course of the war, and marked a departure from conventional Cold War tactics regarding plausible deniability.

Melanie Sheehan

Melanie Sheehan

Melanie Sheehan

My research seeks to understand how the AFL-CIO’s power in Congress diminished during the Nixon administration.  I explore this question by examining the differences between the union’s successful lobbying campaign against the Supreme Court nominations of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell Court in 1969 and 1970 and the organization’s failure to block the nomination of William Rehnquist in 1971. I contend that the Rehnquist proceedings reflect larger social changes that split the AFL-CIO from its allies and discredited the organization’s testimony against Rehnquist. While the AFL-CIO criticized the conservative stances of Haynsworth, Carswell, and Rehnquist on civil rights, its opposition to the Philadelphia Plan and its failure to address affiliates’ discriminatory practices undermined the AFL-CIO’s relationship with the NAACP.  Further, the apparent contradiction between the organization’s avowed stances and its own pervasive discrimination opened the organization’s testimony to criticisms, which the union could not deflect without NAACP support. In addition, the law and order issue, largely absent in the Haynsworth and Carswell hearings, predominated the Rehnquist proceedings. The AFL-CIO condemned Rehnquist’s conservative stances on such civil liberties issues as wiretapping and the right to protest. However, the union’s arguments seemed to contradict the average worker’s growing concerns about crime, particularly as Nixon deliberately tied the issue with the rise of the New Left to divide the working class from the Democrats. Meanwhile, as radical antiwar elements gained influence in the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO chose to abandon the party rather than promote compromise reforms. AFL-CIO leaders thus became more closely tied to the Nixon administration and offered their full-fledged support for the president’s decision to invade Cambodia. During the Rehnquist proceedings, then, former allies such as Americans for Democratic Action lost credibility by adopting unpopular stances regarding civil liberties issues, while the AFL-CIO’s condemnation of Rehnquist’s law and order views and his support for expanded executive power were, like its civil rights testimony, dismissed as illegitimate.

Cristina Iannarino

Cristina Iannarino

Cristina Iannarino

“The Golden Apple: Pietro Andrea Mattioli’s Influence on the Usage of the Tomato in Renaissance Italy,” tells the story of the Sienese herbalist and physician, Pietro Andrea Mattioli. In 1544, Mattoli published his seminal work, I discorsi. This groundbreaking herbal included the first description of the tomato in European literature. Its subsequent editions (the 1554 updated edition in particular) included the first European name for the tomato, pomi d’oro, and a detailed illustration of the plant, which reflected its increased cultivated in the Italian peninsula in the decade between the initial publication and the updated edition. Mistakenly believed to be a relation of the controversial mandrake, the tomato was generally condemned or ignored by Europeans. An extended research project for the Mannion Society, this research demonstrates the mutability of culture and the invaluableness of Mattioli’s writing; it was this audacious herbalist who, against convention, encouraged the usage of the tomato as a culinary ingredient. As a result of Mattioli’s influence, European herbalists, botanists, and physicians from John Gerard to Rembert Dodoens echoed Mattioli’s observations that would dominate herbal literature in almost every major European language for centuries. As a result, the tomato’s association with Italians overshadowed the tomato’s true colonial origins, cementing the tomato’s exalted position in the Mediterranean diet and Italian cuisine.

Congratulations to our Seniors on their original and fascinating projects!

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Touching the Past: Teaching History with Tactile Engagement

The participants in the Jesuit Pedagogy Seminar will be giving 10-12 minute talks this Thursday, May 5th, in the Walsh Library Special Collections Room from 10:00 am until 2:15pm.  Lunch will be served at 11:00am.  At 11:15, Alisa Beer, Senior Teaching Fellow in the History Department, will be giving a talk about teaching history with physical object. Alisa is already well-respected among students and colleagues for the way she weaves material culture into her classes. Earlier this year we managed to get some video of Alisa in action, talking with students about medieval manuscripts in the Fordham University Library collection:

So if you are interested in learning about how to teach history tangibly, please come along on Thursday May 5 at 11:10 for Alisa Beer’s presentation at 11:15.*

Alisa says about her talk:

As a medievalist and a rare book librarian, I believe strongly that a physical experience of the past can create a visceral connection to the study of history that is not available through the use of a textbook alone.  Allowing students to interact directly with primary source objects deepens their understanding of the tangibility of the past and engages them in a way that interaction with a textbook cannot rival. As a participant in the Jesuit Pedagogy Seminar this past semester, I was able to incorporate the Ignatian ideals we learned about into my teaching by developing a hands-on exercise on textile production in which students learned about making cloth in the middle ages by actually using spindles and a small loom.


*Alisa adds that it is perfectly OK if you want to show up only for one presentation and you need not stay for the entire day.

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