Grad Students Take Research on the Road [UPDATE]

PhD student Chris Rose presents his research on the aristocracy of the crusader Near East at the 2014 Crusades Studies Symposium at St. Louis University

PhD student Chris Rose presents his research on the aristocracy of the crusader Near East at the 2014 Crusades Studies Symposium, Saint Louis University

One of the most exciting (and fundamental) aspects of life as a professional historian is the opportunity to showcase research and arguments at academic conferences, symposia and other public fora. It is in these environments that the rubber of archival research, innovative interpretation, and  theoretical development hits the road, and the whole community has a chance to share ideas and knowledge and to ask questions about sources, methods, and the direction of our individual and collective enterprises.

Students in the Fordham History graduate program take full advantage of the opportunity to present their work. Click the link to get a taste of our students’ exciting research, and the distinguished gatherings at which they will be presenting.


Fordham Graduate Student Conference Presentations, Spring and Summer 2014

Lucy Barnhouse

  • Paper: “Controlling caritas: Gender and religious identity in the hospitals of Mainz, 1236-1371.”
  • Conference Details: Borderlines Annual Graduate Student Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Cork, Ireland, April
  • Abstract: The 1259 charter dividing the property of the Heilig Geist Spital names divine inspiration as the catalyst for the hospital sisters’ departure to join the Cistercian Order, but there are several indications that the sisters’ move can be seen as part of Archbishop Siegfried III’s campaign for strict regulation of religious communities within his jurisdiction. In their new community, the women of St. Agnes used the Cistercians’ cachet to obtain support from bishops for the building projects of their new community, projects which included a hospital hitherto overlooked by historians. Archiepiscopal demands that the nuns’ hospital follow the rule of Santo Spirito in Rome indicate that late thirteenth-century references connecting the women to a hospital are not merely evidence of confusion; the nuns of St. Agnes were willing to challenge externally-defined boundaries of acceptable conduct for religious women in order to maintain their identity as hospital sisters.


Daryl Brock

  • Paper: “Private Knowledge and Colonial Engagement: The Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands”
  • Conference Details: Conference on Latin American History (at AHA), Washington, D.C., January 4
  • Abstract: The “Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” commenced in 1913, produced nineteen volumes of research results by 1960. Survey leadership maneuvered insular politics, successfully cultivating support among both American appointees and the emerging Puerto Rican political elite. Their strongest ally, Puerto Rican agricultural commissioner Carlos Chardón, not only influenced legislative funding toward the Survey, but in later years would export Survey-induced forestry management success from Puerto Rico to strongman Rafael Trujillo’s Dominican Republic.
  • Paper: “Ashford’s School of Tropical Medicine and Britton’s Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico”
  • Conference Details: Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science Conference, St. Louis, MO, February 28
  • Abstract: U.S. Army physician Bailey K. Ashford’s successful hookworm campaign in colonial Puerto Rico led to establishment the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Tropical Medicine by 1925. Puerto Rican agricultural commissioner Carlos Chardόn attempted to emulate that success by establishing Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Tropical Agriculture. Nathaniel L. Britton, founder of the New York Botanical Garden and head of the Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico, mediated this effort with insular and mainland authorities to advance the project, in concert with Cornell University.


Salvatore Cipriano, Jr.

  • Paper: “The Struggle for Identity: Religion and the Scottish Universities during the Interregnum”
  • Conference Details: Boston College Biennial Conference on the History of Religion, Chestnut Hill, MA March 28-29
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on national identity and the Scottish universities during the Interregnum (1650s).  In the wake of the Cromwellian Conquest of 1651 amidst the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Scotland was incorporated in a union with England.  Cromwell sought control of the Scottish universities, which meant controlling Scotland’s ministry thus meant controlling the universities.  This paper argues that the universities were at the center of a religious and political struggle involving English commissioners and an increasingly splintered Scottish Presbyterian ministry during a time when Scottish national identity hung in the balance.


Louisa Foroughi

  • Paper: “‘They reputyth Englysch pepyll for none nac[iou]n:’ Scriptural Translation and Nationhood in Columbia University Library Plimpton MS 259”
  • Conference Details: Europe After Wyclif Conference, Fordham University, Bronx, NY June 4-6
  • Abstract: Plimpton MS 259, a fifteenth-century manuscript miscellany, includes a previously unattested tract advocating biblical translation into English, “Cryst ys wordys.” Within the corpus of literature debating English scriptural translation, this tract is remarkable for its emphasis on the use of the vernacular as a measure of nationhood. Moreover, the tract’s presence in a manuscript belonging to a yeoman family in a rural village challenges assumptions about the boundaries imposed by class, profession, and urbanity on these debates. In this paper, I explore themes of nationhood and language in “Cryst ys wordys,” and its relationship to its local environment.


Brandon Gauthier

  • Paper: “‘Bring All the Troops Home Now!’ The American-Korean Friendship and Information Center and North Korean Public Diplomacy, 1971-1976”
  • Conference Details: Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, April 10-13
  • Abstract: This paper examines how the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea utilized public diplomacy in an attempt to shape how Americans conceptualized the meaning of cooperation with North Korea.  It specifically details the history of the American-Korean Friendship and Information Center [AKFIC] in New York City, a North Korean funded “anti-imperialist peace organization” that sought to generate public support for the DPRK and force the withdrawal of American forces from the Korean peninsula.


  • Paper: “‘A foe who fights with a blend of Asian fatalism and Communist fanaticism’: Wartime Depictions of North Korea in American Society, 1950-1953”
  • Conference Details: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, Lexington, KY, June 19-21
  • Abstract: This paper examines three predominant themes about North Korea that emerged in U.S. society during the Korean War as a product of domestic Cold War anxieties.  First, it details how American politicians and South Korean officials described North Korea as a puppet of an international communist conspiracy.  Second, it reveals how the American far-left praised North Korean efforts to reunify Korea as part of an international decolonization movement.  Third, it describes how humanitarian and religious organizations in the United States, reinforcing what Christina Klein has termed a “global imaginary of integration,” humanized North Koreans as Koreans and potential American allies.


Eoin Higgins

  • Paper: “Evolution of the Study of the History of White Backlash to the Civil Rights Movement”
  • Conference Details: Midwest Political Science Association Conference 2014, April 3-6, Chicago, IL
  • Abstract: The United States of America was deeply affected by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Change did not come without cost, unfortunately, and one of those costs was white backlash because of the erosion of the privilege they had come to view as their right. The historical scholarship of the past 22 years has shown that this backlash took many different forms, but one thread can be seen throughout: white Americans’ resistance to a changing racial reality seldom was immediate, often was veiled in non-racialized language, and always had justifications that had little to do with race.


Elizabeth Kuhl

  • Paper: “Florilegia at Bec in the Twelfth Century”
  • Conference Details: International Congress for Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 8-11
  • Abstract: Studies of the monastery of Bec have focused on its well-known philosophical advances, but at the same time its monks were also producing more humble works. Three florilegia, compilations of historical, hagiographic, and administrative texts, exemplify these less well-known but perhaps more typical works of the monastery. Each created by a single monk over the course of his lifetime, the construction and compilation of the manuscripts demonstrate processes of adaptation and creative reuse of both texts and parchment.


Steven Leccese

  • Paper: “Fire and Ice: How the Combined Tactics of Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold Won the Battle of Saratoga”
  • Conference Details: Phi Alpha Theta 2014 Biennial Conference, Albuquerque, NM, January 2-5, 2014
  • Abstract: Due to the negative reputations of both Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold in American history, historians writing on Saratoga tend to give credit for America’s victory to one of these generals and downplay the role of the other. This paper analyzes the particular skills and shortcomings each general brought to the battle and concludes that both were necessary for victory.


Esther Liberman-Cuenca

  • Paper: “An Introduction to English Legal Systems: Cases and Records of the Middle Ages”
  • Conference Details: British Isles Family History Society-USA (BIFHS-USA), Los Angeles, CA, June 22
  • Abstract: This lecture will introduce the possibilities of using legal evidence for genealogists interested in reaching far back into the Middle Ages. England in the high and late medieval periods (c. 1066-1500) was a realm of overlapping, and even highly sophisticated, legal systems that generated thousands of different cases, documents, and records. Many of these manuscripts and parchment rolls—written in Latin, French, or Middle English—have been carefully preserved for posterity. Have you ever thought about how the law shaped the daily lives of your ancestors? Legal records, of course, tell us a great deal about the powers of kings and other great lords, but they also reveal a spectrum of impressions about the lives of everyday medieval people, whether they were at work, in conflict, in debt, or even in love. First, we will track the formation and development of different legal systems. Second, we will examine case studies from the courts. Lastly, we will explore the potential of such evidence to tell us about occupations, family relationships, and the social status of the ordinary men and women who left small, but significant, traces of their lives behind.

Jason MacDonald


Joseph Passaro

  • Paper: “Raising Rural Italy: National Character and Religion in the Textbooks of Felice Garelli (1880)”
  • Conference Details: The 21st International Conference of Europeanists, Organized by the Council for European Studies, Washington, D.C. March 14-16
    • Abstract: In an effort to produce a social and economic regeneration of the Italian national character at the end of the nineteenth century, nationalist intellectuals such as Felice Garelli sought to adapt basic Catholic moral instruction within children’s experience, introducing them not only to concepts of the nation but also to moral responsibilities toward the patria. Published in 1880 and aimed specifically at rural children, the school textbooks of Felice Garelli present the Catholic catechism as the basis of moral instruction for both boys and girls but directs the moral obligations to a citizen’s filial duties toward king and country. The numerous editions of these books and Garelli’s later senatorial career under the first Giolitti administration point to a connection between the author’s efforts and the broader project of national regeneration.


Samantha Sagui

  • Paper: “The Capital Pledges of Medieval Norwich”
  • Conference Details: Annual IUDC Graduate Student Colloquium, New York, March 14
  • Abstract: The paper shows that the capital pledges formed the backbone of the policing system in Norwich. It argues that these men were responsible for detecting and reporting crimes committed their parishes and that their efficiency in doing so was enhanced by their tendency to serve for an extended period of time. Finally, it postulates that the frankpledge system was still flourishing in Norwich at the turn of the fourteenth century.


Hannah Shepard

  • Paper: “‘Vanished in Plain Sight’: Ulster Presbyterians in Wisconsin, 1830-1890”
  • Conference Details: American Conference for Irish Studies, Warwick, RI, November 1-2, 2013
  • Abstract: This paper examines the reasons Presbyterians of Scots-Irish descent left Ulster for the American West in the nineteenth century.  It looks specifically at patterns of settlement in Wisconsin and what impact this group had on the early religious and political character of the state, their role in the emerging Republican Party, abolitionism, and the establishment of frontier churches.  It argues that Ulster Presbyterians brought their unique brand of political and religious radicalism, with its roots in their Irish experience, with them to Wisconsin, influencing the early character of a state which has been known as much for its progressivism as its evangelicalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 


Louis Dean Valencia-Garcia

  • Paper: “Making a Scene: Reviving the Public Sphere through Sex, Drugs, and Comic Books”
  • Conference Details: The 21st International Conference of Europeanists, Organized by the Council for European Studies, Washington, D.C. March 14-16
    • Abstract: In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the newly installed Franco dictatorship prohibited the centuries-old tradition of carnival, fearful of carnivalesque tendencies that disrupted Francoist constructions of gender, religion, and class. While this largely effective ban lasted nearly four decades, in the years just before the dictator’s death in 1975, young Spaniards created an underground scene that challenged Spanish normativity vis-à-vis creative expression, clandestine gatherings, explicit comic books, street drinking, sex, drugs and punk rock, resurrecting a carnivalesque youth culture that became known as the Movida Madrileña, or Madrid Scene. During the transition to democracy, this Dionysian carnival scene sustained nearly a decade of transgressive behavior as young Spaniards revived a moribund tradition, bringing the carnivalesque into modernity as a platform to challenge patriarchal normativity with what ultimately became a capitalist consumer culture. The emergence of this youth culture engendered a period of tension between the old guard of the regime and a new generation of young people that had no memory of the Spanish Civil War—a generation that looked toward both Spanish pluralistic traditions of old and to a budding global youth culture. 


Noel Wolfe

  • Paper: “The Impact of Regret: Collecting Oral Histories on Bronx Community Activism Against Crack Cocaine in the Shadow of the War on Drugs”
  • Conference Details: Oral History in the Mid Atlantic Region, 2014 Conference, Philadelphia, PA, April
  • Abstract: As early as 1983, Bronx faith-based community activists responded to the growing crisis of crack cocaine by taking direct action against young black and Latino drug sellers and lobbying politicians for more police, longer prison sentences, deportation and federalization of drug prosecutions. My paper examines the way in which community activists now recount their stories and their motivations for demanding a punitive response to crack in light of the damaging legacies of the War on Drugs.

Many thanks are owed to Salvatore Cipriano for his help in compiling this list!

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