In another in our continuing series of “Postcards,” Dr. Elizabeth Penry sends news from her research in Rome.
Tag Archives: Fordham faculty
At the annual Faculty Day Dinner on February 2nd to celebrate the contributions of members of Fordham’s faculty the History Department’s own Dr. Maryanne Kowaleski was honored with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. The award was presented by Dr. Eva Badowska, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, whose citation drew on comments by Dr. Kowaleski’s colleagues and graduate students.
Congratulations to the faculty members of the Fordham History Department that have won Faculty Fellowships for the 2018-19! Continue reading
The O’Connell Initiative on the Global History of Capitalism hosted their first event of the semester on January 26. On the fourth floor of Walsh Library, members of the History Department met for an informal lunch and to hear two of their fellow faculty members, Dr. Samantha Iyer and Dr. David Hamlin, speak about their research that was supported by the O’Connell Initiative. Continue reading
Dr. Rosemary Wakeman’s recent book, Practicing Utopia: An Intellectual History of the New Town Movement, has been featured in the Global Urban History Project’s blog. Dr. Wakeman is a professor of History at Fordham and Coordinator of Univerity Urban Initiatives. For more information regarding her research and process throughout this project, Dr. Wakeman was interviewed by the History Department, in March of 2017.
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.
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.
Fordham’s own Dr. Asif Siddiqi recently spoke to New Books Network about his latest monograph, The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) in which he examines the long history of space travel in Russian culture. Click here to listen to the full interview at the New Books Network website.
This story is part of her forthcoming book from Harvard University Press, For Work and Family: A Real Feminist History of “Having it All”
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.”
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.
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.