Tag Archives: US History

Graduate Courses in History, Fall 2016

The History Department is excited to announce our lineup of Fall Courses for 2016. As always, the courses reflect the depth of expertise of our faculty and the rich variety of themes and perspectives on offer in our program. The full complement of six courses in Medieval, Early Modern, Modern European, and US history (with one course offering a global perspective on US history) is designed to provide all of our students with opportunities to pursue periods, areas, and subjects of interest to them. Medievalists can begin their year-long proseminar/seminar sequence, while other students identify topics and mentors for their final research papers.


Students should remember to contact the director of graduate studies before making their selections.

HIST 5411 Gender and Sexuality in Early America (Mondays, 5:30-7:20)

From Professor Doron Ben-Atar,  author of the recent book, Taming Lust: Crimes Against Nature in the Early Republic, comes this new course offering, encompassing “readings in the history of gender and sexuality discourse in Early America and the British Atlantic world of the 17th and 18th centuries.” Students of US History and the history of gender and sexuality

HIST 5506 European Nationalisms and Early Modern (Jewish) History (Mondays, 3:30-5:20)

One of our newest faculty members, and the department’s first Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and director of Jewish Studies at Fordham, Magda Teter presents her first graduate course at Fodham in Fall 2016.

From the course description:

Modern historiography, including Jewish historiography, and history as an academic discipline are products of modern national movements. The narratives they produced provide tools for shaping national and ethnic identities in the modern era, and had long lasting ramifications not only for the study of history but also for the inclusion or exclusion of specific groups in modern European societies. This course will explore how the writing of history has been linked to the larger questions of national identity, and nationalism, and to questions of political inclusion and exclusions. We will read the early Jewish historians of Germany, Poland, and Palestine/Israel and explore how their visions of premodern Jewish history were shaped by larger questions that were also occupying other European historians and intellectuals.

HIST 5915 US and Latin American Borderlands (Wednesdays 3:30-7:20)

Professor Salvador Acosta is another history faculty member with a new book out:  Sanctioning Marriage: Interethnic Marriage in the Arizona Borderlands. As the title implies, Professor Acosta is a leading authority on the history of the US and its borders, especially with Latin America. As the description of his course explains,

This course explores the concept of the borderlands, i.e., the political and geographic spaces where groups of people meet and interact. Individuals enter these areas with acquired cultural and ideological backgrounds that undergo transformations as they encounter different customs and worldviews. The course focuses on United States and Latin American history, in particular, on the roles of nation building and its concomitant identity construction. It uses various categories of analysis, such as race, gender, and hegemony, to discuss the interaction among groups of people as they meet along political and geographic borders.

HIST 6530 The European City 1700-2000 (Thursdays 5:30-7:20)

Professor Rosemary Wakeman is the director of Urban Studies at Fordham, who has published on the history of French cities, including books on the cities of Toulouse and Paris and is currently working on the history of the New Town Movement.

From the course description:

This course concentrates on theoretical and interpretive approaches to the study of the city and urban life. It considers the transformation of urban space and culture from the eighteenth century to the present during which commercial capitalism, industrialization, and massive human migration remade basic social and cultural relationships. Among the key factors of investigation are class and mass culture, gender, production and consumption, accumulation and cultural display, architecture and planning, and the evolution of urban space and topography.

HIST 6152 Medieval Women and the Family (Tuesdays, 3;30-5:20)

Professor Maryanne Kowaleski is the former director of Medieval Studies at Fordham and former President of the Medieval Academy of America. Fresh from a year’s research leave at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Professor Kowaleski will offer the medieval elective course covering the critical areas of social, economic, and gender history.

From the course description:

This course surveys recent historiography on the roles and status of women in medieval society, as well as the structures and dynamics of medieval families.  Among the debates to be explored are the effect on medieval society of the Christian Church’s teachings on virginity, sex, and marriage, and the influence of geography (northern vs Mediterranean Europe), environment (village, town, and convent), and status (noble, bourgeois, or peasant) on the work, family role, and authority of women. Chronologically the course will range from the early Christian period to the Renaissance. Recent scholarly work on nuns, mystics, and beguines will be examined, and readings will also cover different approaches to the study of women and family, including the methodologies of literary scholars, demographers, feminists, and legal historians.

HIST 7056 Proseminar: Medieval Political Cultures (Wednesdays 5-7:20PM) 

When he is not wearing the hat of Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department, Professor Nicholas Paul is a historian of the medieval aristocracy, the crusades, and medieval political culture. In 2016-7 he will offer the Proseminar/Seminar sequence, a year long course that allows medievalists a full semester to master the historiography on a given topic. With the topic and extensive background reading in hand, students will spend the Spring semester conducting research and writing their final papers. The course description explains:

This course, the first part of a two-semester proseminar/seminar sequence will introduce students to recent debates and different approaches to cultures of power and political processes in western Europe in the central middle ages. Among the many topics we might consider are: lordship, status and the sources of political authority; the origins and significance of consultative assemblies; the rituals and rhetoric of courtliness and persuasion; the relationship between rulership and sanctity; and the rise of accountability. Through in-class presentations and discussions, students will become familiar with a wide range of source material, from diplomatic and documentary collections to historical narratives and courtly literature.

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The Brief History of Spring Break

For some American college students spring break is a time to relax and travel. Florida remains the top destination for spring break, and during the 2014 ‘spring break season’ Florida had 26. 3 million out of state visitors.  The term ‘spring break’ has become synonymous in popular culture with partying and travel; this is partly because every year since 1986 MTV has aired a spring break special, with coverage of parties and concerts. But how did this tradition start?

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Meet the Winners of the Loomie Prize for 2015


Winners of the 2015 Loomie Prize: Rachel Podd (left) and Christine Kelly (right)

Each year the History department awards its highest honor for excellence in graduate scholarship, the Loomie Prize. The Loomie prize is awarded to the best seminar paper produced during the previous academic year.  All M.A. and Ph.D. students who have taken the proseminar/seminar sequence or a research tutorial are eligible. The prize for 2015 was awarded to Rachel Podd and Christine Kelly.  

Rachel Podd‘s paper “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague” was written under supervision of Alex Novikoff. The Loomie judges noted that it was based on rich source material, and offered a convincing argument about why and how these sources could be useful to scholars beyond those who specialize in 14th century Catalonia. Rachel wrote that “these documents offer a window… into a vibrant and dynamic world. Within them, one may find Saracens and Christians, men and women, as well as spells and incantations for the health of people and of animals. Through close reading and contextualization, they can elucidate the lives of individuals performing curative activities outside of the major civic centers of Catalonia before the arrival of the plague – what types of diseases did they treat, and how? If caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure?” Hence, Rachel demonstrated how these records sit at the juncture of vernacular medicine, episcopal control, and inquisition.

Christine Kelly‘s paper “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folksong Revival through Sing Out! Magazine, 1950 – 1968″ written under supervision of Kirsten Swinth. Her essay is an outstanding example of cultural analysis built from the gritty work of data collecting.  By categorizing hundreds of articles in the folk music periodical, Sing Out!, Christine developed a highly original thesis about the discourse of gender in the 1960s folk music revival.  She overturned a conventional division between the leftist cultural movements of the 1930s, and those of the 1960s, showing that folk revivalists in the 1960s resurrected familiar tropes and narratives of gender from the 1930s.  These were ultimately highly traditionalist, premising an anti-capitalist utopia on an idealized view of the American past where women remained tied to “traditional domestic and reproductive spaces” and “men were more responsible for carrying out the daily operations of political thought and cultural innovation that constituted the engine [of the] folk song revival.”

We reached out to Rachel and Christine for details about their work and how they developed the ideas and research for their papers.

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New Course: HIST 5410 Race and Gender in Modern America

Right now, all over the country, college campuses are the sites of debate and protest over questions of history, identity, privilege, and inclusion. The timing could not be better for a graduate course in the History department which addresses these questions head-on. That is why we are particularly excited to announce that this coming Spring semester Professor Kirsten Swinth will be teaching a new course entitled “Race and Gender in Modern America,” Professor Swinth sat down with us and talked about her ideas for the course, including the book that will be the starting point for the conversation, and her “student-led” approach to the development of the course themes and readings. You can watch her comments below. We found it incredibly inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately and eloquently about the role that history can play in confronting some of the greatest challenges to our society. We bet you will too.



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Bronx African American Oral History Collection Now Online!


This week, the Bronx African American History Project of Fordham celebrates a major milestone with the uploading of more than 200 of its oral history interviews to the BAAHP’s Digital Research Site at Fordham libraries, making them available to scholars around the nation and around the world. More than twelve years in the making, this collection represents an unparalleled resources for scholars in African American and Urban History. Keep reading for further details of the project provided by Professor Mark Naison.

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What do historians do in the summertime? Postcard from Dartmouth

Statue of Robert Frost, Dartmouth College

Statue of Robert Frost, Dartmouth College

The summer provides scholars with opportunities to get together and workshop their research at institutes, seminars, and symposia  intended to foster group discussions on discrete topics like theory and methodology. For students of American History, one of the best opportunities to meet and discuss their work is the Futures of American Studies Summer Institute. This year, students and faculty from Fordham were invited to apply to participate in the Dartmouth institute with support from the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Among the community of Fordham Americanists who participated was Glenn Hendler, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department, who gave a talk entitled ““The Civil War and the Ends of the State.” Also among the Fordham delegation was History PhD student Stephen Leccese, who presented work in progress on nineteenth-century mass consumption and economic thought. Stephen sent us this postcard with details of his experience at the institute.

The best part was workshopping a paper at the Institute. We broke into seminar sessions of about 10 people each in the afternoons. Each day 2 or 3 people read a paper they were working on- it could have been a dissertation chapter, an article proposal, or anything else. I read “Nineteenth-Century Economic Thought and New Perspectives on the Rise of Mass Consumption,” a slight revision of the paper I worked on during our Research Colloquium. I got some very interesting feedback from people outside my field, since about 95% of the seminar participants were from English or Literary Studies departments. While I was skeptical about how helpful their comments would be, I was surprised at how interested they were in a work of history. They provided some great suggestions that I will certainly be adding into my paper as I work on it further.

The Dartmouth campus at night

The Dartmouth campus at night

Overall it was a very welcoming environment. Highly accomplished scholars, early career academics, advanced and early PhD students all interacted together without any sort of hierarchy. Even though I was in a different discipline than most other participants and was also much earlier in my PhD work (most were several years in and working on their dissertations), all expressed legitimate interest in what I was working on.

Although there wasn’t much down time (we attended about 40 talks throughout the week, plus meeting with our seminars every afternoon), I did have a very nice dinner out with my seminar group after our last meeting. It was a chance to be much more casual around everyone after a week of pretty serious scholarly discussion. I plan on maintaining contact with several members of that seminar, both as colleagues and friends.

It was an educational experience because I’ve only studied history since I started college. There were very clear methodological differences between myself and the rest of the participants. Though I don’t agree with all of the methodologies from Literary Criticism, I very much appreciated the chance to see these scholars in action. It gave me a view of something I’d never seen before.


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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…

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Fall Courses: Writing Early America (Crane)

Among the new course on offer in Fall 2015 will be HIST 5644: Writing Early America with Professor Elaine Crane. This course will focus on the “creation” of early America by historians whose ideas have strongly influenced our conception of Euro-America’s first centuries. We will consider the work of well known authors such as Edmund Morgan, John Demos, Bernard Bailyn, Al Young, Mary Beth Norton, Simon Schama, Laurel Ulrich, Linda Kerber, David Hall, and Paul Boyer/Stephen Nissenbaum. In doing so, the class will obtain a richer understanding of the evolution of American society through a variety of topics: slavery, Native Americans, the Revolutionary  movement, gender issues, the invisible world.

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Fall Courses: The City and the Country in America (Stoll)



Screenshot 2015-04-12 18.24.54

Another new course on offer in Fall 2015 will be HIST 5733 The City and the County in America. Offered by Professor Steven Stoll, this course explores the history of the country and the city as natural environments and symbolic landscapes through the works of historians, artists, and poets. It covers the period from the Revolution through the twentieth century, with special attention to the nineteenth century. Topics include Appalachia, slavery, and sharecropping; Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs; romantic landscape painting and Central Park.


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Winner of the Loomie Prize 2014!

Tobias Hrynick, winner of the 2014 Loomie Prize

Tobias Hrynick, winner of the 2014 Loomie Prize

At a gathering of the History Department on its Spring Open Day, we announced the winners of the Loomie Prize. Each year, the Loomie prize is awarded to the best seminar paper produced during the previous academic year.  All M.A. and Ph.D. students who have taken the proseminar/seminar sequence or a research tutorial are eligible.

 The judges unanimously selected Tobias Hrynick as the winner for 2014, awarding an honorable mention to Stephen Leccesse. Hrynick’s paper, “The Customs of Romney Marsh: Compromise and Common Interest in Wetland Administration,” was written under the supervision of Maryanne Kowaleski for the Medieval History proseminar “Medieval England.”  Leccese’s paper “Emerging From the Sub-Cellar: John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil, and the Rise of Corporate Public Relations in Progressive America, 1902-1908,”  was written under the supervision of Christopher Dietrich. For more information about the Loomie prize papers, read on… Continue reading

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