New Directions in Early Modern and Modern History: The 2015 Fordham Graduate Colloquium Conference, May 8 4PM

The History Department is pleased to announce the schedule for the 2015 Graduate Colloquium Conference “New Directions in Early Modern and Modern History”. The conference will take place on Friday May 8 at 4PM in Walsh Library 040.Presentations cover evenly almost the whole period from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, with presenters addressing topics as diverse as royal succession and government in Tudor England, torture and public disorder in Colonial America, and mass consumption, labor justice, and education in the modern US. Read on for the conference schedule and paper abstracts…

New Directions in Early Modern and Modern History: The 2015 Fordham Graduate Colloquium Conference


Session 1:   War, Politics, and Capitalism


Paper 1:  The Tudor Queens and the Irish Problem

Kimball Fontein

When Elizabeth became queen of England, she inherited a war with France, a war with Scotland and the Irish issue. This issue rested in the struggle between English officials trying to assert English authority in Ireland and Irish resentment. In the shadow of the two wars in which England was entangled, the Irish problem became increasingly important. As a result, Elizabeth continued to use Mary Tudor’s constructed policies of defense that ultimately promote the English supremacy of Ireland. These policies include the expelling of Scots from Ulster, establishing the midland plantations, and reducing internal turmoil. By looking at the Irish issue and these three policies in particular, one can see the continuation in policies between Mary and Elizabeth’s reign.


Paper 2:

Torture in Early America

Michael Mazzullo

Despite its status as among the most violent wars in American history, King Philip’s War lacks the attention it deserves. In 1675, Metacom (now known to the English as King Philip) led the Wampanoags and other Indians against New England’s 50,000-strong colonial population. Both sides practiced torture, mutilated the dead, killed women and children, and behaved outside of their culture’s norms of restraint. How colonists made sense of this war tells us about the nature of American identity; a watershed of literature attempted to record, justify, and explain the devastation of King Philip’s War. Looking at contemporary primary sources, my thesis will address the following historical issue: In King Philip’s War, how do Puritans describe Indian torture? By analyzing these accounts of prominent authors like Increase Mather, William Hubbard, and Mary Rowlandson, this essay will reveal Puritan norms, values, and identity in the context of cross-cultural interaction. I argue, primarily through the analysis well-published voices like Mather and Hubbard, that a Puritan lens informs the histories of King Philip’s War and uses torture as a medium for communicating the divine punishment inherent in their religious understanding.

Paper 3:

“America’s Political Economists and the Intellectual Roots of Mass Consumption, 1865-1900”

Stephen Leccese

Few would dispute that the rise of consumerism is a defining aspect of twentieth-century America. However, historical writing on the subject ignores significant intellectual developments among American economists from the Civil War to the end of the nineteenth century. Gradually, a group of intellectuals grew to consider mass consumption a necessity in America’s mass production economy. This new doctrine was in direct contrast to traditional theories of classical economists, who viewed thrift and saving as the key to prosperity and considered consumption a drain on society. This paper will focus on this split with classical economics and how Americans critiqued key classical doctrines. Using mostly primary sources, it argues that there was indeed a significant break from classical economic theory. It first analyzes the writings of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill, the three most popular classical economists. These three economists establish the theories that inhibit or disparage increased consumption. It then looks at the published and unpublished material of men like David A. Wells, Francis Amasa Walker, Uriel Crocker, and George Gunton, among others, analyzing where they disagreed with the previous three economists. The paper establishes that this group of intellectuals challenged classical views toward consumption. They realized that times had changed, and argued that mass consumption was essential for economic growth and prosperity. In doing so, they anticipated the consumer society that eventually developed in twentieth-century America.


Session 2: Justice, Gender, and Public Disorder


Paper 1:

Gender in Education: How New York City Public Schools Shaped Jewish and Italian Boys and Girls Into American Men and Women

Nicholas Larock

It has long been established that Americans – especially those living in urban centers – have employed the public school system to remedy the ills of society. Between 1901 and 1925 the United States was facing the problems caused by massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. The problems that arose in New York City as a result of Jewish and Italian immigration included an abundance of uneducated and unskilled workers and the strain they put on the city, increased competition for skilled and unskilled labor positions, and more practically, the perceived inferiority of immigrants based on the roles men and women played in immigrant families and communities. In New York City – through the employment of separate vocational curriculums for boys and girls – the public school system would act as a means of alleviating the problems of immigration. This would be achieved by teaching the children of Jewish and Italian immigrants the skills necessary to find employment in American industry, while simultaneously instilling in them American ideals of manhood and womanhood. Several prominent historians of American education have explored the myriad ways in which the public schools have attempted to solve the problems associated with the new immigration, including teaching hygiene, economic self-sufficiency, trade skills, and American morals and values. However, one facet of education at this time that has been overlooked is the way in which American ideas of manhood and womanhood played a role in the education of immigrants. By exploring the ways in which these ideas impacted the public schools and their curriculums, the story of American education, the forces driving it, and its impact on American culture will be more complete.


Paper 2:

The Jesuits of St. Louis and Labor Justice

Ken Homan

In 2007, Joseph and James McCartin called for new investigations into the link between Catholicism and labor history. The brothers commented that in forty-five years, Labor History published fewer than a dozen articles on Catholicism and American labor. Similar publications contained little but a few book reviews. Furthermore, the McCartins contend that historians of American Catholicism and those of labor tend not to collaborate. This lack of collaboration has left a severe gap in historical understanding. This knowledge may yet prove vital for the future of the labor movement. The McCartin brothers write with a unique ability to comment on the dearth of materials. Joseph leads the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. James heads the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture. Their personal communication and mutual interest opens the fields of labor history and American Catholicism to new avenues. In their commentary, the two writers solicit historians to examine the interchange between Catholicism and labor history. The brothers point to four insights that require greater attention: the overlap of sacred and secular for working-class Catholics; how the Catholic Church forged personal and communal identities that sometimes superseded that of class; the complex position of the Church in local politics; and the character of place in working-class identity.   Using the McCartin’s four keys insights, this presentation and essay responds to their petition by telling the relatively unstudied story of the Jesuits in St. Louis and their efforts for labor justice between 1891 and 1962.


Paper 3:

Audacious Villains: Crowd Actions in Colonial New Jersey, 1745-1752

Anthony Urmey

The problem of land disputes plagued New Jersey from the moment the Duke of York granted the colony to his loyal friends John Berkeley and George Carteret in 1664 up until the early 19th century. The period 1745-1752 witnessed a profusion of disorders by the colony’s yeomen in protest of their grievances over these contested land titles. This paper argues that while New Jersey’s crowd actions during this era fit within established patterns of disorder, they did not culminate in a lasting solution to the land disputes. The colony buzzed with tension as rioters unlawfully evicted proprietary tenants and staged a series of daring jailbreaks for their incarcerated compatriots. These disorders demonstrated purposeful action, adhered to acceptable levels of violence, exhibited anti-authoritarian sentiments, and maintained a spirit of corporatism. Despite the rioters’ adherence to extra-legal traditions, which never exceeded cultural norms, their efforts would fail to bring a favorable endgame to the problem of land disputes.



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