Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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News about the Department of History and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni

Archives of History Happenings are available for:

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The department periodically publishes a newsletter.

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History Happenings Archive for 2011


University of Georgia Press to publish Dr Sarah Potter’s book on adoption and domestic diversity in postwar America

[15 December 2011] Dr Sarah Potter has a contract with the University of Georgia Press to publish her book Everybody Else: Adoption and Domestic Diversity in Postwar America. The publication date has not yet been set.

The twenty years after World War II are nostalgically associated with simpler, happier, more family-focused living, with images of baby-boom families that were white, suburban, and well on their way to middle-class affluence. For these men and women, family life provided an antidote to the anxieties and uncertainties of the nuclear age by promising happiness, security, and fulfillment.

But not everyone enjoyed these benefits. For those who could not have children, or have as many children as they wanted, the postwar baby boom proved a source of social stigma and personal pain. A third of all Americans made below middle-class incomes, and over fifteen million lived under Jim Crow. Many of these families could not afford a suburban home, and families of color were often barred from the suburbs altogether. For these individuals, home life was not an oasis but a challenge. By considering those who did not fit the domestic norms of the day, Everybody Else argues that, rather than a place of refuge in an unpredictable postwar world, the family was instead intimately connected to the era’s many political and social upheavals.

The book examines the lives and case records of men and women from diverse postwar families who applied to adopt or provide pre-adoptive foster care in the 1940s and 1950s, individuals — both black and white, middle- and working-class — who found themselves on the margins of a social world that privileged family membership. These couples wanted adoptive and foster children to achieve a sense personal mission and meaning, as well as a deeper feeling of belonging to their communities, which they believed only parenthood could provide.

In the process of applying for a longed-for child to gain access to full social citizenship, they described in detail their domestic hopes, hardships, and struggles. The infertile expressed a sense of worthlessness and inadequacy in the face of their friends’ and relatives’ large families. Black couples told their African American social workers that they were fed up with the racism they encountered while trying to support their families, and planned to teach their children about civil rights. White working-class husbands gave up on class mobility, explaining that they turned down promotions so they would have safer, less taxing jobs and more time for their children. Wives took jobs they hated to help support their families, or gave up jobs they loved in order to care for their children. These individuals’ experiences seeking children reveal that the baby boom family was about much more than “togetherness” or a quiet house in the suburbs: it also shaped people’s ideas about the promises and perils of getting ahead in postwar America.


Dr Robert Yelle participating in conference in Thailand on the politics of religious freedom

[14 December 2011] Dr Robert Yelle, assistant professor, is in Chiang Mai, Thailand, during the week of December 12 to make a presentation at a conference on the Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Norms and Local Practices in South and Southeast Asia. This is one of a multi-year series of conferences; the present meeting focuses on Asia.

The workshop focuses on the legal and political struggles around the concept and practice of the right to religious freedom in post-colonial societies of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. Part of the aim of the project is to track the contested and multivalent meanings and histories of the right to religious liberty in non-western societies, with special attention to how the development of this concept in Europe, the United States, and international law continues to shape debates in non-western parts of the world.

The project “Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Norms & Local Practices” is jointly based at the University of California-Berkeley and Northwestern University and is affiliated with SUNY-Buffalo Law and University of Maryland Law.


Departmental newsletter History Happenings for December 2011 published

[9 December 2011] The December 2011 issue of the departmental newsletter is now available online. It contains articles about

  • the 13th Annual Graduate Conference in African American History
  • Dr Matthew Mason’s book People of the Big Voice
  • the naming of the Omlie Tower at Memphis International Airport (interview with Dr Janann Sherman)
  • the Faculty Brown Bag Research series
  • Justin Lauterbach’s lecture on the Chitlin’ Circuit
  • Dr Susan O’Donovan’s musings on the influence of her upbring on her later historical research

Endowment Committee announces awards to support graduate student research for Spring 2012

[9 December 2011] The Endowment Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of graduate student research and conference travel funding for Spring 2012:

  • Amber A. Colvin for conference participation in Prague
  • Sheena Harris for research trips to Nashville and Oxford, Mississippi
  • Jared Krebsbach for conference participation in Providence
  • Brian McClure for conference participation in Chapel Hill
  • Richard Saunders for a research trip to Cincinnati

The deadline for Pre-Session/Summer 2012 funding requests is 1 March 2012; application instructions will be e-mailed early in the Spring semester.


Memphis Flyer puts Dr Janann Sherman’s book on Phoebe Omlie on list of recommended winter reading

Newspaper cover [2 December 2011] The current issue of Memphis Flyer has reviews of books recommended for winter reading. Images of four of the recommended books appear on the cover. Among them (immediately under the word “Baby” in the headline) is Walking on Air: The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie, the biography of the aviation pioneer by Dr Janann Sherman published recently by the University Press of Mississippi. The review by Michael Finger is near the end of the cover story article.

The review correctly states that the control tower at Memphis International Airport was named for Ms Omlie in 1982, seven years after she died. What it does not mention is that despite the designation by Congress in 1982, the name was not officially used until a newer control tower was dedicated in October 2011, when Dr Sherman participated in the dedication alongside James Kacarides in the dedication. Mr Kacarides had earlier been turned down in two proposals to name something in honor of Ms Omlie, one of the most prominent women in aviation during her lifetime. The downtown airport became the DeWitt Spain Airport and the airport in Millington became the Charles W. Baker Airport. Mr Kacarides did get Congress to designate the older control tower at Memphis International Airport as the Omlie Tower, but it was nearly thirty years later that the name was officially conveyed on the new tower (read the full story in an earlier article in History Happenings).

Mr Finger recommends the book, calling it “a great adventure story and also a parable about the fickle nature of fame.” (Despite her earlier fame, perhaps second only to that of Amelia Earhart, Ms Omlie died of lung cancer in the charity ward of an Indianapolis hospital, deaf, malnourished, and without family.)


Japan Times reviews Dr Andrei Znamenski’s Red Shambala

[16 November 2011] The Japan Times, the leading English-language newspaper in Japan published a review of Dr Andrei Znamenski’s latest book, Red Shambala, in its issue for 16 October 2011.

The departmental newsletter, History Happenings, for October 2011, pages 10-12, has an interview of Dr Znamenski conducted by Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas (PDF) in which many of the ideas in the book are discussed. Amazon.com has an author page for Dr Znamenski which contains a brief biography and a listing of his other books.


Dr Suzanne Onstine speaks at Egyptology symposium in Toronto

[8 November 2011] Dr Suzanne Onstine, assistant professor, was an invited speaker for Symposium 2011/Scholars’ Colloquium held in Toronto 4-6 November, a joint venture of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities and the Royal Ontario Museum. Her presentation “The Life Cycle of a Theban Tomb: A View from Panehsy” dealt with the field work that she has been engaged in at Theban Tomb 16, the tomb of Pahnesy and Tarenu.


Dr Robert Gudmestad publishes book on steamboats and the Cotton Kingdom

[7 November 2011] Dr Robert Gudmestad, who taught in our Department of History until a few years ago, has published a work for which he started the research while he was on our faculty — Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom — through the auspices of Lousiana State University Press.

For information about the book, read the press’s description.

While a faculty member here he published A Troublesome Commerce: The Transformation of the Interstate Slave Trade. His next project is a history of the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee. He is currently an assistant professor of history at Colorado State University.


Rita Hall’s book on Millington scheduled for February publication

[6 November 2011] Arcadia Publishing has announced that it will release Rita Hall’s book on Millington early in February 2012. Ms Hall received her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in the University College last year and is currently in our doctoral program. She was recently elected president of the Graduate History Association.

For more information about the book, read the announcement from Arcadia Publishing.


Graduate History Association makes its debut on Facebook

[28 October 2011] The Graduate History Association has created a presence on Facebook and invites all of its friends to “like” it. You may find the page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/University-of-Memphis-Graduate-History-Association/165239050237245.

The first posts have been about what people are currently reading, whether course-related or otherwise.


Ed Frank and Dr Walter Brown comment on anthropodermic book in Special Collections

[28 October 2011] Because of the upcoming Halloween event, today’s issue of The Daily Helmsman features several articles about scary things — the legendary ghost of Elizabeth Mynders in the women’s dormitory (not really very scary, according to a local investigator of paranormal events), recommendations about scary movies, and a notice about the football game with the University of Central Florida.

Idolatrie title page

There’s also a new generation of students, so once more the newspaper has an article (available online) about the anthropodermic book that is housed in Special Collections in the University Libraries. (The book has been featured several times over the years, most recently on 13 February 2008.) What is scary, at least to some persons, is that the copy of Louis Richeome’s L’Idolatrie Huguenote, a diatribe against French Protestants published shortly after 1600, is bound in human skin. (The word anthropodermic is not often found in smaller dictionaries, so the article explains that it derives from Greek words for “human” and “skin.”)

Richeome, a Catholic and a member of the Jesuit order, wrote prolifically on religion. He regarded the Huguenots as heretical, devoting themselves to idolatry, as the title indicates. About 30 of his works, including this one, are available from Google as free e-books through the Android Market.

The book, owned at one time by eclectic collector Berry Brooks, underwent three laboratory tests to ascertain that the skin was indeed human. It has never been determined why this particular volume was bound in human skin, according to Ed Frank, Curator of Special Collections, and Dr Walter R. Brown, associate professor of history. Dr Brown believes it was bound in the skin of a Protestant by a Catholic as “a statement of religious conviction” for “the same reason people were burned at the stake, making a statement about an erroneous or dangerous religious sect, this is the way Catholics saw Protestants and Protestants saw Catholics. It is an act of religious intolerance.“ However, it is known that some wills were bound in the skins of the persons who wrote the wills, so it can be argued (less convincingly) that a Huguenot was responsible for the binding.

There actually is a bit of a connection with Halloween. The book was acquired on 29 October 1986, so tomorrow will represent the 25th anniversary of the acquisition.


Dr Janann Sherman participates with James Kacarides in dedication of the Omlie Tower at Memphis International Airport

[26 October 2011] It only took 30 years for the change to be formalized. What began in June 1982 was finally concluded on 20 October 2011, when the Memphis Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled an engraved bronze plaque and a matching glass panel designating the new control tower at Memphis International Airport as the Omlie Tower.

Phoebe Fairgrove Omlie was once described as “second only to Amelia Earhart among America's women pilots.” She was the first woman to earn an airplane mechanic’s license, the first woman to earn a commercial pilot’s license, and during the New Deal was the first woman to hold an executive position in federal aeronautics. Earlier in her life she had performed stunts such as dancing on the wing of an airplane, hanging by her teeth from an airplane, and parachuting. She and her husband Vernon Omlie spent many years in the commercial aviation industry in Memphis, offering charters, cargo transport, aerial photography, crop dusting, and flight training. They taught hundreds of persons (including William Faulkner and his brothers) how to fly, and the control tower at Memphis International Airport was supposed to been named in their honor in 1982.

James Kacarides, a local aviation enthusiast, had long led a determined movement to honor Ms Omlie for her exploits. The initial proposal failed when Mayor Henry Loeb decided in 1971 to name the downtown airport in Memphis for General DeWitt Spain instead. A later effort also failed when the redeveloped Millington airport was named for Charles W. Baker.

Mr Kacarides did not give up. He proposed that the air traffic control tower at Memphis International Airport be designated as the Omlie Tower. He was told by the airport authority that no tower had ever been named before, and that in any event “it would take an act of Congress” because the tower was federal property. Undaunted, he went to Congress. The Federal Aviation Administration opposed the bill that Congress passed, but President Ronald Reagan signed it on 21 June 1982.

In the the turmoil following the strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (during which President Reagan fired all air traffic controllers) the FAA suddenly had other priorities. The plaque never arrived and the ceremony was never held.

Persistence finally paid off, with the aid of Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, who did much to revive interest in Ms Omlie. (Vernon had died in a plane crash in 1936 and Phoebe had died in 1975 in poverty.) She was present when Ms Omlie was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Sevierville in November 2008. She wrote an article in Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, edited by Sarah Wilkerson Freeman, Beverly Bond, and Laura Helper-Ferris, published by the University of Georgia Press in 2009, followed by her later full biography, Walking on Air: The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie, which was released on 1 September 2011 by the University Press of Mississippi. Dr Sherman drafted the text on the marker and panel that sum up the careers of the Omlies.

Mr Kacarides is shown here, standing beside the marker, with Dr Sherman at the dedication ceremony, his goal finally achieved.

Kacarides and Sherman

For more information about Dr Sherman’s book, please read the article “Walking on Air” in the departmental newsletter for October 2011 (available online as a PDF document).

What was to have been the Omlie Tower, dating from 1977, is 185 feet tall and is dwarfed by the new tower, which is nearly twice as tall at 336 feet. It will eventually be demolished and the area it occupies will be re-landscaped. The new tower was praised in the dedication ceremony by Randy Babbitt, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, as “an incredible, state-of-the-art, high-tech, leading-edge tower”; Mr Babbitt added that “Improvements like these are needed around the country.”

The Omlies The towers

Dr Susan O’Donovan participates in two events on American slavery

[17 October 2011] Dr Susan O’Donovan, associate professor and associate chair of the department, participated in a brown bag discussion on 12 October at the Center for Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, in which she along with Deidre Cooper Owens and Anne Twitty from the Department of History at Ole Miss led a lively conversation about new directions in the study and pedagogy of slavery.

Later in the week she went to Savannah to participate in a three-day symposium on “Slavery and Freedom in Savannah.” Organized to begin telling the story of the black women and men owned by the Telfair family of Savannah, panelists spoke on topics that ranged from the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to post-Reconstruction political violence. Dr O’Donovan’s paper focused on the intersection between cotton and commerce and how together they shaped the lives of slaves in antebellum Savannah. The papers presented at this conference will be published in an anthology scheduled to be released in 2013 by the University of Georgia Press.


Dr Robert Yelle participates in international conference on religion in India

[17 October 2011] Dr Robert Yelle, assistant professor, recently returned from the Rethinking Religion in India III conference held 11-14 October 2011, at the Chateau in Pardubice, Czech Republic. The conference was sponsored by the Universities of Pardubice, Ghent (Belgium), and Kuvempu (India). Dr Yelle was an expert respondent on the three roundtable sessions held during the conference. The conference website is http://www.rethinkingreligion.org; portions of the conference from this and earlier years are available on YouTube.


History alumnus Kirk Caraway honored as one of four outstanding alumni in College of Arts and Sciences

[13 October 2011] Kirk Caraway, who received his B.A. in history in 1994 and his Juris Doctor in 1997 was one of the four outstanding alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences honored this evening at the 15th alumni affairs banquet. Remarking that he had majored in high school baseball pitching and goofing off, he credited the Department of History will enabling him to read documents, write reports, and analyze difficult cases that would stand him in good stead when he went to law school.

Mr Caraway has advanced rapidly in the legal profession in Memphis, centering his practice on cases in state and federal courts as a partner with Allen, Summers, Simpson, Lillie & Gresham. He received the Memphis Bar Association’s Sam A. Myar Jr. Award in 2009 for outstanding service to the legal profession and the community. He was recognized as a “Mid-South Rising Star" by Law & Politics in 2009, 2009, and 2010 and by the same publication as a “Superlawyer” in 2011. He was ranked by Memphis Business Journal as a member of the “Top 40 Under 40" in 2009. Elected as a fellow of the Memphis Bar Association, he began serving as its secretary last year and is on a path that will culminate in his serving as president in 2013-2014.

Mr Caraway is shown at the left listening to introductory remarks by Jim Summers of his law firm and at the right making his remarks to the audience after receiving his award from Dr Henry Kurtz, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Caraway listening Caraway speaking

The others who received the award were Dr Diane Allen (B.A. 1973), Provost, Salisbury University; Stacey Greenberg (M.A. 1999), Community Relations, MLG&W, and Founder, Memphis Rock & Romp; and Darlene Winters (B.A. 1976, M.A. 1979), Founder/Choreographer, Company d Dancers. Members of Ms Winters’ group performed two dances at the beginning of the evening.

The College of Arts and Sciences also designated Emile Bizot (B.A. 1960) and his wife Emilie as Friends of the College.


Departmental newsletter History Happenings for October 2011 published

[11 October 2011] With Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas as the new editor, the Department of History began volume 8 of History Happenings today (available online as a PDF document). Dr Aram Goudsouzian, who has been the editor since 2005, relinquished his duties upon becoming the interim director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities. Dr Maurice Crouse remains responsible for the layout of the newsletter.

The October 2011 issue contains

  • a letter from the chair, Dr Janann Sherman
  • an article about Dr Dennis Laumann’s study-abroad program for Spring 2012 in Salvador, Brazil
  • news about Dr Sherman’s new book on aviation pioneer Phoebe Omlie
  • an article about our online B.A. and M.A. programs
  • an article about the centennial history of the university
  • an interview with Dr Andrei Znamensky about his new book Red Shambala
  • a summary of Dr Richard Wolin’s lecture on French Maoists
  • a description of the new minor in religious studies
  • an introduction of the new faculty members

Dr Janann Sherman and Dr Beverly Bond participate in photo exhibit and book signing in Mynders Hall

[5 October 2011] Mynders Residence Hall was one of the original buildings at West Tennessee Normal School in 1912. It was built in the form of the letter E in memory of Elizabeth Mynders, daughter of President Seymour Mynders who died unexpectedly several months before the school opened. Campus folklore holds that Elizabeth has been “visiting” Mynders residents ever since, especially those students who stay out late and fall behind in their studies. Residents have reported that they have awakened to find textbooks open to the chapters they should be studying. She is considered “friendly” and seems to prefer the third floor of the building, where most sightings have occurred.

Elizabeth’s ghost may or may not have been present, but portraits of both Elizabeth and President Mynders were on display in the lobby. The scheduled events included the unveiling of 25 historic campus photographs that have been enlarged for public display as part of the centennial celebration of the university and a book-signing session by Dr Janann Sherman and Dr Beverly Bond, who with the assistance of graduate assistant Frances Breland wrote Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers. A Centennial History of the University of Memphis.


Endowment Committee awards funding to three graduate students

[5 October 2011] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History is pleased to announce the recipients of graduate student travel and research funding for Fall 2011:

  • Jack Lorenzini for a research trip to Madison, Wisconsin
  • Tammy Prater for a research trip to Kansas City
  • Richard Saunders for research trips to Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin

The committee announces that the deadline for Spring 2012 funding requests is 1 December 2011; application instructions will be e-mailed later this semester.


Graduate History Association elects new officers

[30 September 2011] At a recent meeting the Graduate History Association elected Rita Hall as its president for the current academic year. Wendy Clark will serve as vice-president, and the position of secretary/treasurer remains open.

Michael Blum will be the graduate representative on the Graduate Students Committee and Amy Piccarreto will sit on the Undergraduate Studies Committee. Brian McClure will be the graduate representative at departmental faculty meetings.


Dr Suzanne Onstine speaks on work at Theban Tomb in Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch series

[23 September 2011] Under the theme of “Problems in History,” Dr Suzanne Onstine, assistant professor, spoke this afternoon in a Phi Alpha Theta pizza presentation on the work she and graduate students have been doing at Theban Tomb 16 in Egypt. Her topic was “The Life Cycle of a Theban Tomb in Ancient Egypt.” She began by explaining what purpose tombs in ancient Egypt served, what preparations were made for them, what was done to create and furnish them, and what happened to them after their creation.

Theban Tomb 16 began in the 19th Dynasty as the tomb of Pahnesy and his wife Tarenu but was used for about a thousand years thereafter as burial sites for others, and in modern times was invaded by tomb robbers in search of valuable metals or objects that could be sold. It was clear from her lecture that there are problems in excavating the tomb. Her work in several past seasons has made slow progress through passageways that are littered with bits and pieces of bodies and objects as evidence of the robberies. The dirt has been completely disturbed, but the fragments that have been found can be dated reliably because of well-known stylistic characteristics. Ventilation is necessary, and the work is not recommended for anyone who is squeamish about finding and perhaps stepping on human remains at every turn. The hope is that in future seasons the work will clear the way to what is expected to be the burial shaft itself at the end of the passageway — but which might lead only to another passageway.

The Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary for history students, sponsors three pizza lunch events each semester. The next event is scheduled for 21 October 2011. Free pizza and soft drinks are provided by Student Event Allocation.


History and History Day receive strong support in Wall Street Journal opinion article

[22 September 2011] Norm Augustine, former under secretary of the Army and the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, strongly supported the study of history, and particularly National History Day, in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal for 21 September (available online as a PDF document from National History Day).

Mr Augustine said that the study of history promotes “critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to communicate clearly and cogently” and added, “Such skills are certainly important for those at the top, but in today’s economy they are fundamental to performance at nearly every level.” While he said “a candidate who demonstrates capabilities in critical thinking, creative problem-solving and communication has a far greater chance of being employed today than his or her counterpart without those skills” he continued, “an education in history can create critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information and articulate their findings. These are skills needed across a broad range of subjects and disciplines.”

In particular, Mr Augustine noted, students who participate in National History Day “consistently outperform their peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but in science and math as well.”

Recognizing that current teaching in American schools stresses memorized factual information, Mr Augustine urged: “Now is a time to re-establish history’s importance in American education. We need to take this opportunity to ensure that today’s history teachers are teaching in a more enlightened fashion, going beyond rote memorization and requiring students to conduct original research, develop a viewpoint and defend it.”

Historians have always known this, of course (read our mission statement). It is encouraging that leaders like Mr Augustine know it too.

The Department of History at The University of Memphis has supported National History Day since it became truly national in scope in the 1980s. For many years it hosted both the regional competition for West Tennessee and state-wide competition. Primarily as a result of vigorous leadership by Dr Janann Sherman, participation in the state-wide competition eventually became so great that it strained the resources of the department and responsibility for hosting it had to be passed to the Tennessee Historical Society a few years ago.

While the state agency is responsible for Tennessee History Day the department continues to host West Tennessee Day. Dr Susan O’Donovan, associate professor and associate chair of the department, is the coordinator, assisted by Caroline Mitchell. West Tennessee Day will be held in the University Center on 17 March 2012 and winners will advance to Tennessee History Day at Legislative Plaza in Nashville on 21 April 2012. State winners will advance to National History Day 10-14 June 2012 at the University of Maryland-College Park The theme for this year is Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History.


Dr James Blythe to have two pieces in Transitions: An Artists’ Link Group Exhibition

[22 September 2011] Dr James Blythe, professor, will have two pieces in Transitions: An Artists’ Link Group Exhibition, which will run 2-28 October at Gallery Ten Ninety One at the WKNO Media Center, 7151 Cherry Farms Road in Cordova. An opening reception will be held at the center on 2 October from 2 to 4 pm.


Dr Kent Moran speaks at Emergency Preparedness and Incident Conference

[22 September 2011] Dr Kent Moran, who received his Ph.D. in history in 1999 and is now a research associate at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information, spoke yesterday at the Emergency Preparedness and Incident Conference held at the FedEx Institute of Technology. The conference, sponsored by Mid-South Association of Continengency Professionals, is held every September, which has been designated as National Preparedness Month.

This region is approaching the 200th anniversary of the series of massive earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in 1811 and 1812. The strongest, on 7 February 1812, created Reelfoot Lake and is estimated to have had a magnitude between 7.4 and 8.6 on the Richter scale. Few earthquakes have that intensity (for comparison, the earthquake in China in May 2008 was rated at 8.0 and the one in Japan in March 2011 at 9.0) and Dr Moran said of them, “to the people who experienced it, these shocks were of Biblical proportions.”

The Mid-South Association of Contingency Professionals meets monthly to promote individual and business preparedness for disasters. Dr Moran noted that there were no such emergency preparedness programs in 1811-1812: “People just went on the best that they could because they had to.”

An article about the conference and Dr Moran’s presentation is in today’s Commercial Appeal and is also available online.


U of M news release highlights AAUW award to Chrystal Goudsouzian

[20 September 2011] We reported on 16 April 2011 that Chrystal Goudsouzian had received a scholarship from the American Association of University Women for $20,000 to support her research and writing of a dissertation topic on “Becoming Isis: Myth, Medicine, Magic, and Reproduction in Ancient Egypt.” Today the university news office posted a press release with detailed information about both Ms Goudsouzian and the award.

Addendum, 30 September 2011: The Commercial Appeal today published a feature article that is based on the press release (also available online).


Rita Hall publishes article on Colonel Edward Ward

[15 September 2011] Rita Hall, graduate assistant, has had her first publication. Her article “Colonel Edward Ward: The Life and Death of a Tennessee Senator” has appeared in volume 64 of The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers. This is the article for which she received a prize from the Society at a dinner meeting of the Shelby County Historical Commission on 26 August as the best article for 2010.


Dr Robert Yelle’s book on British attitudes toward Hinduism accepted for publication

[12 September 2011] Dr Robert Yelle, who recently had a book on the relationship of law and religion published, has had another book accepted for publication. The Language of Disenchantment: Protestant Liberalism and Secular Discourse in British India, which deals with British attitudes toward Hinduism in colonial India, will be published by Oxford University Press.


New edition of the Guide for Graduate Students now online

[9 September 2011] The beginning of a new academic year usually sees some changes in the graduate program in history. This year is no exception. The Graduate Coordinator, Dr James Blythe, professor, has revised the Guide for Graduate Students to reflect the changes and has rewritten some portions to improve phrasing and organization.

As before, there is a version of the guide that is divided into sections for more convenient reference and another version that contains the entire document in a single file. The divided version is available at http://www.memphis.edu/history/gradguide/title.htm and the single-file version at https://umdrive.memphis.edu/g-history/www/gradguide/guide_complete.html.


Dr Robert Yelle publishes book on relationship of law and religion

Yelle_book

[9 September 2011] As a co-editor with Winnifred Fallers Sullivan and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo (both of the University at Buffalo Law School), Dr Robert Yelle, assistant professor, has published After Secular Law, that interrogates standard accounts of secularism. The book is available from Stanford University Press and information about it may be found in an online description from the press.

The book has already been well received by reviewers. Joan W. Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study says of it:

This volume stages an extremely productive interdisciplinary conversation which questions the boundaries between law and religion that are often presumed by theorists of modernity. Arguing that law is not necessarily secular and that religion is often bound by law, the authors provide us with new stories about the complexities and interconnections of these supposedly separate realms. This book is a major contribution to the revision of our understanding of religion, law, secularism and modernity.

Dr Kent Schull participates in panel discussion on the world since 9/11

[8 September 2011] Dr Kent Schull, assistant professor, participated this evening in a panel discussion “How the World Has Changed Since 9/11” in the Shelby Room of the University Center. Two other University of Memphis faculty members, Dr Wanda Rushing, professor of sociology, and Dr Robert Blanton, professor of political science, were the other panelists.


Helmsman article features centennial history by Sherman, Bond, and Breland

[7 September 2011] Today’s print edition of The Daily Helmsman has an article on page 6 (also available online) about the centennial history of the university that was written by Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department; Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor; and Frances Breland, graduate assistant, and published on 3 August.

Either through the reporter’s misunderstanding or an editorial error, Dr Bond is said to be “director of the college of arts and sciences,” but otherwise the article is fairly straightforward about Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers. A Centennial History of The University of Memphis, which is on sale exclusively through the University Bookstore.


Three Ph.D.s and one M.A. in history awarded at summer commencement

[7 September 2011] At the Summer Commencement 2011 three students from the Department of History received the Ph.D. degree and one received the M.A. degree.

Cynthia J. Sadler wrote her dissertation “Standing in the Shadows: African American Informants and Allies of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission” with Dr Janann Sherman as major professor. Leigh Ann Wilson under the direction of Dr Janann Sherman wrote on “Fighting Two ‘Devils’: Eleuterio Escobar and the School Improvement League’s Battle for Mexican and Mexican-American Students’ Educational Equality in the San Antonio, Texas, Public Schools, 1934 to 1958.” Darius J. Young wrote “The Gentleman from Memphis: Robert R. Church, Jr. and the Politics of the Early Civil Rights Movement” with Dr Aram Goudsouzian as major professor.

Armanthia Duncan received the M.A. degree, working under the tutelage of Dr Beverly Bond.


Dr Charles Crawford honored at Tennessee Conference of Historians; Dr Doug Cupples, Dr Kent Moran, Dr Judy LaForge, Sharon Fairbanks, and Richard Nollan present papers

Certificate

[5 September 2011] The Tennessee Conference of Historians gave special recognition to Dr Charles Crawford, professor, at its annual meeting 1-3 September in Chattanooga. Dr Sam K. “Kit” Rushing, associate dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, presented Dr Crawford with a certificate of appreciation that was signed by many of those who attended the conference to honor his many years of teaching and support for the study of Tennessee history. Dr Crawford was introduced with testimonials by several historians from across the state. Among them were Dr Bruce Wheeler (the University of Tennessee), Dr Judy LaForge (Union University), Dr Carole Bucy (Volunteer State Community College), Dr Kent Moran (The University of Memphis), Dr Marius Carriere (Christian Brothers University) and Dr Doug Cupples (Christian Brothers University).

Rushing and Crawford

Dr Bucy stated: “No one has done more work then he to preserve and share the history of our state.” Dr Crawford’s teaching skills and his direction of twenty-seven doctoral dissertations, along with the great collection of oral history interviews with the Tennessee Valley Authority and World War II Veterans, received special recognition. Every speaker drew attention to his devotion to students.

In his keynote address Dr Crawford described his growth as a historian and stressed the importance of getting out of the office and going to the sources, especially those in oral history. Many of his remarks were directed to the graduate students who were in attendance. Jim Ogden, Historian for the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park, also mentioned Dr Crawford’s contributions in his remarks.

Several doctoral alumni and current doctoral candidates from The University of Memphis participated in the conference.

In a two-part session entitled Tennessee: Warriors, Poets, and Preachers, Dr Kent Moran presented “Historic New Madrid Earthquakes in Tennessee: Myth and Reality, and did Old Hickory Experience Them?”; Dr Judy LaForge presented “Converted, Sanctified, and Called to Preach: Nineteenth-Century Black Women Preachers”; and Sharon Fairbanks presented “Quilts and Quilting as a Means of Women’s Reaction to the Civil War.”

Dr Doug Cupples moderated a session entitled Medicine in Memphis and contributed a paper of the same name, along with doctoral candidate Richard Nollan, who presented “The Gift of Life: L. W. Diggs and Blood Transfusion in Memphis.” Dr Cupples was also facilitator for a session titled Tennessee: Foundations of a Culture.

The conference adjourned with a desire to hold next year’s meeting in Memphis.

Thanks to Dr Doug Cupples for reporting this event and furnishing photographs.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian appointed as interim director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities

Aram Goudsouzian[31 August 2011] University Provost Ralph Faudree announced today the appointment of Dr Aram Goudsouzian, associate professor, as the interim director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities. Dr Goudsouzian is filling the vacancy created by the former director, Dr Jonathan Judaken, who accepted a position at Rhodes College.

Named in memory of Dr Marcus W. Orr, legendary professor of medieval and Renaissance history, the center was founded “to encourage interdisciplinary research and teaching on campus, MOCH offers a variety of programs to encourage students, faculty, and members of the Memphis community to discuss the most important questions that we face locally and nationally” (quoted from its mission statement). For a complete list of its programs for the academic year 2011-2012, visit MOCH’s calendar of events.

Dr Goudsouzian came to The University of Memphis in 2004. He is the author of three books: Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon (University of North Carolina Press, 2004); The Hurricane of 1938 (Commonwealth Editions, 2004); and King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution (University of California Press, 2010).

“Aram’s interdisciplinary background and research interests make him a strong choice for the position,” says associate director Joe Hayden. “We’re glad to have him.”

You can contact Dr Goudsouzian at MOCH@memphis.edu.


Mitchell Hall gets new sign for easier identification

New sign

[31 August 2011] Mitchell Hall, the home of the Department of History, is one of the few buildings on the campus already to have its name prominently displayed on the front of the building itself. That identification was added in September 2009 (read our article about it). As part of a campus-wide effort to make buildings easier to identify, workers are shown here today putting the finishing touches on a new sign on the east side of Mitchell Hall. Similar signs are being placed at other buildings.


Graduate student groups hold orientations and reception

[27 August 2011] The history honorary society Phi Alpha Theta, the Graduate History Association, the readings group Transcending Boundaries, and the Graduate Association for African-American History sponsored orientations and a reception this afternoon at the Alumni Center. Graduate Coordinator James M. Blythe, professor, met first with new teaching assistants and graduate assistants and then with all new graduate students.

During the reception the leaders of the sponsoring groups explained the purposes of their organizations and urged participation, Amber Colvin speaking for Phi Alpha Theta, Michael Blum for Transcending Boundaries, Amy Piccarreto for the Graduate History Association, and Kaylin Ewing for the Graduate Association for African-American History. Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, then spoke briefly, welcoming the students.

Below are some representative photographs of the event:

Orientation Reception 1
Reception 2 Reception 3

Richard Saunders, Rita Hall, and Dr Janann Sherman win awards at Shelby County Historical Commission dinner

[26 August 2011] At the recent Annual History Awards Dinner of the Shelby County Historical Commission, Richard Saunders, doctoral candidate, and Rita Hall, teaching assistant, received Marshall Wingfield Awards for the best article published in the Papers of the West Tennessee Historical Society. Mr Saunders’ award was for an article in 2009 on James F. Estes, lawyer and community organizer. Ms Hall’s award was for an article in 2010 on Colonel Edward Ward, a Tennessee senator. Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, was recognized for her contributions to the West Tennessee Historical Society with a life membership.


Four departmental faculty members awarded Professional Development Assignments

[25 August 2011] The College of Arts and Sciences awards a number of Professional Development Assignments each year which release faculty members from teaching duties to conduct research or receive training to continue their professional growth as scholars and teachers. Of the 18 awards made for the academic year 2011-2012 four went to members of the Department of History. Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, will be on leave for both semesters. Dr James Fickle, professor, and Dr Scott Marler, assistant professor, will be on leave during the Fall 2011 semester. Dr James Blythe, professor, will be on leave during the Spring 2012 semester.


Department captures several honors at Arts and Sciences faculty meeting

[24 August 2011] The Department of History made a strong showing at this afternoon’s meeting of the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr Walter R. “Bob” Brown, associate professor, was recognized for 45 years of service to the university; Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, for 15 years; and Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, and Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor, for 10 years.

Assistant professors Susan O’Donovan and Andrei Znamenski were officially awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor.

Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, was named a Dunavant University Professor and will receive $5000 a year for the next three years to support her research.

Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, received the College of Arts and Sciences Meritorious Faculty Award, an award which is not routinely made every year. The criteria for the award state that nominees must be tenured full professors with a minimum of ten years of experience in the College and that they will be judged on their contributions to The University of Memphis through the three categories of teaching, scholarship, and service.


Dr Janann Sherman publishes book on aviation pioneer Phoebe Omlie

[24 August 2011] Phoebe Fairgrove Omlie was once described as “second only to Amelia Earhart among America's women pilots.” She was the first woman to earn an airplane mechanic’s license, the first woman to earn a commercial pilot’s license, and during the New Deal was the first woman to hold an executive position in federal aeronautics. Earlier in her life she had performed stunts such as dancing on the wing of an airplane, hanging by her teeth from an airplane, and parachuting. She and her husband Vernon Omlie spent many years in the aviation industry in Memphis and the 1982 control tower at Memphis International Airport was named for them.

Despite her earlier prominence, Ms Omlie died in obscurity and previous accounts of her life and career have been few and scattered. Now Dr Sherman has published Walking on Air: The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie with the University Press of Mississippi. In an Afterword, an instructive chapter for budding historians, Dr Sherman tells how she managed over several years to uncover and piece together what she thinks may be all that we will ever know about the life of this remarkable woman.


Dr Scott Marler publishes article in Agricultural History

[22 August 2011] “Two Kinds of Freedom: Mercantile Development and Labor Systems in Louisiana Cotton and Sugar Parishes After the Civil War,” an article by Dr Scott Marler, assistant professor, appeared in Agricultural History in its Spring 2011 issue. An abstract of his article is available online.

As the title indicates, Dr Marler’s research parallels that of Roger Ransom and Richard Sutch in One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation, which used mostly region-wide data. Taking what he calls “a micro-level approach,” he compares the development of stores in two Louisiana parishes during Reconstruction, one devoted to cotton production, the other to sugar. Dr Marler maintains that there are several problems with Ransom and Sutch’s conclusions, especially their famous “territorial monopoly” thesis. Further, his research indicates that the superior performance of sugar-parish stores “underscores the significance of differences between the credit-dependent sharecropping system prevalent in cotton regions and the cash wages paid to sugar workers—distinctions that have often been intentionally blurred in recent historiography.”


Scott Frizzell publishes article on Nashville riot of 1967

[12 August 2011] Scott Frizzell published his article “Not Just a Matter of Black and White: The Nashville Riot of 1967” in the Spring 2011 issue of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly. He wrote the article in a Department of History research seminar while an M.A. student at The University of Memphis. Mr Frizzell finished his M.A. in Spring 2011 and is beginning a Ph.D. program in history at Rice University.


Book on university’s centennial by Dr Janann Sherman, Dr Beverly Bond, and Frances Breland officially released

[3 August 2011] The University of Memphis will be 100 years old in 2012. Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, and Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, with the help of graduate assistant Frances Breland, have written Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers. A Centennial History of the University of Memphis to tell the story of its history, beginning as a small teachers’ college named West Tennessee State Normal and progressing through several name changes to become a major metropolitan research university named The University of Memphis. The book is organized into five sections to reflect the school’s changes in name and mission. It features a central narrative and numerous photographs and illustrations.

The official release date is today, 3 August 2011. The book, which costs $39.95, is available only through the University Bookstore. The bookstore has been offering an opportunity to purchase it online in advance of the release and the form may still be used if you cannot visit the bookstore to make a purchase (go to the order form).

For more information about the book, read the university’s press release.


Nashville Arts has article about Dr James Blythe’s philosophy and method of photography

[2 August 2011] Dr James Blythe, professor, recently won second place in a photography contest in Nashville for his photograph entitled “Death of Icarus” (read our article). A reproduction of his photograph appeared in the June issue of Nashville Arts (available online) and the photograph was in an exhibition at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, Tennessee, during the period 10 June-2 July (read our article).

In the August 2011 issue the magazine has an article entitled “Jim Blythe: Seriously Close Up!” in which Dr Blythe explains the philosophy and method behind his photography (available online). The introduction to the article reads:

When Nashville Arts launched its Second Annual Photography competition last April, we were happily surprised by the quality of the images submitted. One image in particular, full of abstract color and otherworldly shapes, compelled us to dig a little deeper. This month, we are proud to reintroduce to you Jim Blythe, a photographer with a truly unique vision of the world.

Commercial Appeal article on Memphis Friends features Dr Carol Ciscel

[30 July 2011] Dr Carol Ciscel is the clerk of Memphis Friends (Quakers) and today figured prominently in an article about Quaker worship in the Faith in Memphis section of the Commercial Appeal (available online). The article includes three photographs by Mike Brown taken at the Friends Meeting house at the corner of Walnut Grove and Prescott.

Dr Ciscel received her Ph.D. in history in 2010 with a dissertation entitled “Inseparable Companion: The Consolation of Heloise,” written under the direction of Dr James M. Blythe.


Commercial Appeal writes about Wendy Clark’s decision to enter doctoral program in history

[27 July 2011] It isn’t often that the Commercial Appeal has articles about students who enter our doctoral program. Today, it did have one — about Wendy Clark. In truth, the article was more about her work at the Lewis Center for Senior Citizens for the past ten years than about us, but we are happy to share a bit of the spotlight with her. During her time at the Lewis Center, Ms Clark was a computer and technology instructor, introducing senior citizens to various aspects of modern technology. For the article itself, you will have to refer to the print edition of the newspaper, because there is no online version of it. But there is an online photograph, with a brief caption, showing Ms Clark, along with Lewis Center director Terrie Kirksey and new instructor Ronda Kelley.

Ms Clark began teaching as a part-time instructor for the department a few years ago and took some graduate courses in history on the side, finally deciding to pursue the Ph.D. degree. Her husband, Vincent Clark, is an archivist with the Shelby County Archives and also teaches as a part-time instructor for us.


Dr Suzanne Onstine speaks at Southern Methodist University on field work on Theban Tomb 16

[16 July 2011] Dr Suzanne Onstine, assistant professor, spoke today at Southern Methodist University on the field work that she is conducting on Theban Tomb 16. Dr Onstine and two graduate students in Egyptology spent the winter season working at the site of the tomb of Pahnesy and his wife Tarenu. Her lecture was sponsored jointly by the SMU Anthropology Club and the North Texas Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt.


Historical tidbit: Curtis Person as an example of the value of a major in history

[1 July 2011] The summer months are always slow news months, so here’s a historical tidbit.

Have you ever noticed the plaque that is affixed near the southwest corner of the University Center?

Person plaque

The Senator Curtis S. Person Plaza was dedicated in honor of Curtis S. Person, currently Judge of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County. Did you know he was a history major when he graduated from Memphis State University in 1956? Historians have always maintained that a history major is good preparation for many occupations, including law and politics. Not many history majors will be as outstanding as Judge Person, of course, but he has shown what can be done with that background.

After graduating here, he received the Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi in 1959. Entering Tennessee politics, he served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1966 to 1968 and of the Tennessee Senate from 1968 to 2006, a total of 40 years. While in the Senate, he served in leadership roles as the Republican Caucus chairman for six years and as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years. He was also vice-chairman of the Select Committee on Children and Youth and a member of various committees, including the General Welfare, Health, and Human Resources and Education committees.

In Memphis, Judge Person served as president of Handicapped Inc., the Mental Health Association of Memphis and Shelby County, the Memphis Heart Gala, and was chairman of the Memphis Drug Commission. Prior to his election to an eight-year term as judge in 2006, Person served children and families of Memphis and Shelby County as chief referee and chief legal officer of the Juvenile Court.

At the university, Judge Person was founder and charter president of The University of Memphis Rebounders in 1965; president of The University of Memphis National Alumni Association, 1970-1971; and trustee of The University of Memphis Foundation, 1970-1977. He was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa Society and The University of Memphis Society of the Shield and has received the Distinguished Alumni Award and The University of Memphis Eye of the Tiger Award.

We may have overlooked some of Judge Person’s achievements, but you get the idea — add personal abilities and drive to a history major and you can go far.


Dr Jonathan Judaken writes opinion article about the closing of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism for Haaretz

[1 July 2011] Yale University recently announced that the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, which began in 2006, would be closed by the end of July because it had not met its “academic expectations.” The university later announced the creation of a new program called the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism. The ending of the older program has sparked considerable controversy.

Dr Jonathan Judaken, professor, today contributed an opinion article on the matter, which appeared in Haaretz. He decried the development of a “war zone” between those who supported and those who did not support the closing, maintaining that both sides were only partly right and that “the complexities of the current debate are deadened by the nature of the bombardments each launches in response to its enemies.” He called for the development of a rigorously academic approach to the study of anti-Semitism:

Rather than serving as fodder for another melee in the political war over the “new anti-Semitism,” the controversy over YIISA should serve as a desperately needed wake-up call. For unlike every other area of scholarship in which I have been trained as a historian of modern Europe — nationalism, colonialism, feminism, class, racism — there is a paucity of literature on the methods that should underpin the study of anti-Semitism.
There is little theoretical literature on which approaches and training should be applied to this field, which mechanisms account for its morphing over time, and how its various permutations ought to be divided into periods. Moreover, there has been little consideration of what comparative frameworks are required to understand anti-Semitism. For example, in the contemporary moment, how are we to understand the relationship between Islamophobia and the new Judeophobia? This point also necessitates a historical consideration of who the allies in the struggle against anti-Semitism have been and ought to be. It is on the basis of this kind of scholarly reflection that the academy can contribute to the broader campaign against racism in all its forms.

Dr Judaken is in Israel as a Fulbright Senior Specialist (read our article about his being chosen for the program). He has written extensively on anti-Semitism, including the books Naming Race, Naming Racisms and Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question: Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual and many articles. He currently has a work in progress entitled Critical Theories of Anti-Semitism. A complete list of his publications may be found in his curriculum vitae.


Department holds reception for Gerry Russo

[29 June 2011] Gerry Russo is leaving the Department of History after several years as secretary of the Oral History Research Office and office assistant in the departmental office. In her honor the department held a reception for her this afternoon. Below are representative photographs:

Gerry 1
Gerry 3 Gerry2
Gerry4

Dr Stephen Stein cited in PolitiFact critique of Senator Rubio’s speech on American exceptionalism in technology

[16 June 2011] In his first speech on the floor of the U. S. Senate on 14 June, Senator Marco Rubio made the claim that “Anywhere in the world, when someone uses a mobile phone, e-mail, the Internet or GPS, they are enjoying the benefits of the American miracle.” Kentucky Senator MItch McConnell said, “No one expresses American exceptionalism better than Senator Rubio.”

PolitiFact.com, which specializes in fact-checking political speeches, critiqued Rubio’s claim in an online article on Wednesday, enlisting the expertise of Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who writes on our relationship with technology; Janet Abbate, who teaches science and technology in America at Virginia Tech and the author of Inventing the Internet; and Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor here at The University of Memphis, who teaches, among other subjects, the history of technology.

All consultants granted that the U. S. contributed significantly in all the areas mentioned by Senator Rubio but that in all of them there were substantial contributions by other nations. The Internet in particular owes much to Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist who worked for CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Switzerland. Berners-Lee was largely responsible for the World Wide Web, developing both the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) for transmitting data and Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) as its main “language.” Dr Stein observed, “So, yes, Americans developed the Internet, but Berners-Lee made it user-friendly.”

Dr Stein’s evaluation of Senator Rubio’s claim: “The statement is superficially correct, but there is (as usual) more to the story.” PolitiFact’s evaluation was more extended: “It’s also important to note in the context of Rubio’s ‘only in America’ rhetoric that while the United States led, it wasn’t alone in its innovation. Other nations’ researchers contributed to the early Internet; commercial mobile phone networks were available overseas before they were in America; other nations operate satellite navigation systems. But in these areas and many others, Americans can claim primacy. We rate Rubio’s statement, that ‘when someone uses a mobile phone, e-mail, the Internet or GPS, they are enjoying the benefits of the American miracle,’ Mostly True.”


Dr James Blythe's prize-winning photograph shown in Renaissance Center exhibition

[10 June 2011] We reported on 19 May that Dr James Blythe, professor, had won second prize in a Nashville competition for photography. His photograph, “Death of Icarus,” was shown this evening at the opening of an exhibition at the Renaisssance Center in Dickson which will continue through 2 July. There is a reproduction of the photograph in the June 2011 issue of Nashville Arts Magazine, the sponsor of the competition.


Eight history graduate students earn the M.A. degree at Spring Commencement

[6 June 2011] We reported shortly after the event that four history graduate students earned the Ph.D. degree in the Spring Commencement (read the article). For various reasons we were not able at that time to report accurately on those who earned the M.A. degree. They were Brandon W. Black, Emily N. Brown, Amber A. Colvin, Elizabeth L. Eberlein, Jeffrey S. Frizzell, Kirby L. McCauley, Michael T. Moore, and Robert E. Pomerenk. Mr Pomerenk wrote a master’s thesis on “The Role of Cooperation in the Division of the Stone-Campbell Movement.” Along with the M.A. he also received the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, Art.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian publishes article in Journal of the Historical Society

[6 June 2011] Dr Aram Goudsouzian, associate professor, published an article entitled “Three Weeks in Mississippi: James Meredith, Aubrey Norvell, and the Politics of Bird Shot” in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of the Historical Society.


Graham Perry’s exhibit on Tennessee’s civil-rights sit-ins wins award from American Association for State and Local History

[1 June 2011] The American Association for State and Local History has given the Tennessee State Museum the Award for Excellence for the exhibit We Shall Not Be Moved: 50th Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins which was on display during the Spring of 2010 in Nashville.

Graham Perry, a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Memphis and Curator of Social History at the museum, was curator for this exhibit. He will receive the award in September at the annual meeting of the AASLH in Richmond.

A traveling version of the exhibit is touring across the state until February 2012. It is currently at the National Civil Rights Museum and will run through 6 June.

Earlier this year the exhibit won an award for best temporary exhibit for 2010 from the Tennessee Association of Museums (read our article about this award).


Dr James Blythe wins second prize in Nashville photography competition

[19 May 2011] Dr James Blythe, professor, has won second prize in a Nashville competition for photography. His photograph, “Death of Icarus,” will appear along with those of the first- and third-place winners in the June 2011 issue of Nashville Arts Magazine and in a exhibition of photographs by all 25 winners in the Renaissance Center in Nashville. The exhibition will have its opening on 10 June, 6 to 8 pm, and will run through 2 July.


Four students receive the Ph.D. degree at Spring Commencement

[10 May 2011]commencement_spring2011 Four students in the Department of History were awarded the Ph.D. degree during the Spring Commencement.

Two of them wrote their dissertations with Dr Aram Goudsouzian as the major professor. Dr Shirletta Kinchen (left in photo) wrote “‘We want what people generally refer to as Black Power’: Youth and Student Activism and the Impact of the Black Power Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, 1965-1975,” and Dr Daryl Carter (right in photo) wrote “President Bill Clinton, African Americans, and the Politics of Race and Class.” They are shown here with Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, after the ceremony.

Dr Reginald Ellis wrote his dissertation on “James Edward Shepard and the Politics of Black Education in North Carolina during the Jim Crow Era: 1875-1947,” with Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, as his major professor. Dr Lyndel Fisher wrote “The Theological Antecedents of the Assemblies of God: Baptist and Presbyterian Roots,” with Dr Charles Crawford, professor, as his major professor.


Dr Dennis Laumann participates in conference in Algeria

[4 May 2011] Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor, participated in the conference “L’Elite intellectuelle en Afrique: Entre Engagement et Désengagement” at the Université d’Oran in Algeria (below left). On Tuesday, he delivered a lecture entitled “The Contributions of Africans to Marxist Theory: Ideas Born in Conflict and Struggle,” based on research he carried out during his professional development assignment this semester. Earlier today, he moderated a panel called “Engagement/Désengagement Politique et Littérature,” featuring presentations by Algerian, French, and Indian scholars (below right). While in Oran, he also attended a reception hosted by the U.S. Cultural Affairs Officer at the Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines en Algérie.

University entrance Panel

Dr Anindita Nag on a postdoctoral fellowship at Planck Institute

[2 May 2011] Dr Anindita Nag, who received her M.A. in history in 2003, has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science during the current academic year.

Dr Nag wrote her thesis on “Leaving Home” under the guidance of of Dr Abraham Kriegel, Dr Dennis Laumann, and Dr D’Ann Penner. She received her Ph.D. in 2010 from the Department of History, University of California-Los Angeles, writing her dissertation on “Managing Hunger: Famine, Science and the Colonial State in India, 1860-1910.” Her current research investigates the photographic representations of famine in India from 1870 to 1920. The project seeks to understand how the photographic archive became a critical locus for the emergence of famine as an object of historical knowledge and understanding.


Rita Hall and Michael Lejman awarded graduate fellowships

[29 April 2011] Doctoral candidates Rita Hall and Michael Lejman have been awarded two graduate fellowships from the Department of History. Ms Hall, who recently received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the University College (read our article), received the Ruth and Harry Woodbury Graduate Fellowship in Southern History, and Mr Lejman, who recently received the Spring Semester 2011 Best Prospectus Award (read our article), received the Dr. Peggy Jemison Bodine Dissertation Fellowship.

The Woodbury award is made to a student fully enrolled in the graduate program who has a demonstrated major interest in Southern history in research, writing, and teaching.

The Bodine award is made to an outstanding full-time doctoral student who has completed all coursework, passed the comprehensive exams, and received approval of the dissertation topic. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment.


Department has retirement reception for Dr James Chumney and Dr Maurice Crouse

Chumney and Crouse

[28 April 2011] Dr Maurice Crouse (above right) joined the Department of History in 1962, and Dr James Chumney (above left) in 1965. Both are retiring at the end of this semester, but both will be teaching on a reduced schedule for the next several years under the post-retirement employment program. The department had a reception in their honor this afternoon in the second-floor lobby of Mitchell Hall.

Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, opened the festivities with a review of the changes in the university that have taken place during the period of the honorees’ active service. Dr Chumney and Dr Crouse then spoke about their experiences in education, beginning with their first-grade years and continuing up to the present. Several colleagues then reminisced about various episodes in both the curricular and the extracurricular lives of the honorees in the spirit of a gentle roast.

Chumney Crouse

Below are representative scenes from the reception (thanks to Dr Doug Cupples, Melanie Smith, and Emily Mills for furnishing photographs):

Cakes Food table
Guests More guests

Endowment Committee announces awards

[22 April 2011] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History announces the following awards:

Ann Mulhearn and Kevin Johnson received year-long dissertation writing fellowships, and one-semester dissertation fellowships were awarded to Mark Janzen, Chrystal Goudsouzian, and James Conway. The Spring Semester 2011 Best Prospectus Award went to Michael Lejman.

Justin Horrell received the Belle McWilliams Scholarship in American History.


Dr Catherine Phipps presents book chapter for discussion at April Faculty Research Brown Bag

[22 April 2011] At the last session of the Faculty Research Brown Bag for the academic year, Dr Catherine Phipps, assistant professor, presented the first chapter of a book that she is preparing for submission to a publisher on “Special Trading Ports and Geopolitical Strategies in Japan’s Gradual Opening.”


Chrystal Goudsouzian wins dissertation fellowship from American Association of University Women

[16 April 2011] Chrystal Goudsouzian, doctoral candidate in Egyptology, has received a $20,000 fellowship from the American Association of University Women to support research for her dissertation on “Becoming Isis: Myth, Medicine, Magic, and Reproduction in Ancient Egypt.”


Michael Lejman speaks on Alfred Memmi at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[15 April 2011] Following the organization’s tradition, the Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta chose a graduate student to make the last presentation of the academic year in its series of pizza lunches. Doctoral candidate Michael Lejman, who is preparing a dissertation on Memmi, spoke on “I am a Problem: Albert Memmi and the World of a French Tunisian Jew.”


Dr Kent Moran speaks on 1811-12 earthquakes at seismology conference

[13 April 2011] Since receiving his Ph.D. in history in 1999, Dr Kent Moran has worked at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information seeking out historical evidence for the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812. This evening in a conference entitled “Before There Was a Memphis: The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812” at the Cannon Center in downtown Memphis he s:\spoke specifically about those earthquakes. (Despite its title, the confererence included discussions by other participants about earthquakes that occurred in this region over the past 1,500 years.)


Dr Jonathan Judaken chosen as Fulbright Senior Specialist

[12 April 2011] For the next five years, Dr Jonathan Judaken, professor, will serve as a Fulbright Senior Specialist.

According to the Fulbright Scholar Program, this program “promotes linkages between U.S. academics and professionals and their counterparts at overseas universities or institutions with education focused programming. The program is designed to award grants to qualified U.S. faculty and professionals, in select disciplines, to engage in short-term collaborative 2 to 6 week projects at higher education institutions in over 100 countries worldwide.”

These project grants are not for research as is more customary for Fulbright scholars. “Eligible activities include teacher training, short-term lecturing, conducting seminars, special conferences or workshops, as well as collaborating on curriculum planning, institutional and/or faculty development.”

Dr Judaken said that it is akin to what he will be doing in Israel this summer, where he has been invited by both Haifa University and Tel Aviv University to give a series of public lectures, seminars, workshops, and consultations on the basis of his research on antisemitism, specifically based upon the book Critical Theories of Anti-Semitism that he has been working on for some time.

Dr Judaken added: “The most interesting thing about this is that there are no Fulbright Specialists designated in the humanities. Instead, my grant has officially been given in ‘Sociology’ with my area of expertise as ‘Ethnic and Cultural Studies, specially focused on Jewish Studies and the role of minorities.’”


Phi Alpha Theta initiates new members, department makes awards at annual banquet

[2 April 2011] After several years of having small, informal gatherings for its induction ceremony, Phi Alpha Theta returned this year to a more formal banquet. The change seems to have been popular, for the banquet had to be moved from its original location to the more spacious River Room in the University Center to accommodate all those who attended.

PattersonThe meeting began with a buffet dinner. Dr Sarah Potter, the organization’s faculty advisor, then welcomed everyone and asked Dr Lynn Zastoupil to introduce the guest speaker. Dr Zastoupil, who is J. J. McComb Professor of History at Rhodes College, served as one of the members of Dr Steven Patterson’s dissertation committee. Dr Patterson (left) received his Ph.D. in 2003 with a dissertation on “Tin Gods on Wheels: Gentlemanly Honor and the Imperial Ideal in India,” Dr Abraham Kriegel as major professor. He taught for several years at Lambuth University before he went to his alma mater, Mississippi College, where he is an associate professor of history and political science. After reminiscing about his days as a graduate student here, he gave a lively presentation based on his recent book, The Cult of Imperial Honor in British India, using images from the period of British rule in a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate his points.

Initiation

Following Dr Patterson’s lecture, the president of the Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, Amber Colvin, conducted the initiation of the new members (above). New members included William Askew, Faith Babis, Colby Barrom, Emily Belshan, Lenora Bendall, Rachel Black, Natalie Bland, Theresa Corbett, Joshua Coules, Charles Crabtree, Jonathan Dancy, Alan Dupree, Sherye Fairbanks, Edward Gardner, Timothy Gouge, Keith Hall, Rita Hall, Charles Hodum, Justin Horrell, Bradley Kellum, Corbin Kill, Brian Matthews, Barbara Mitchell, David Ngo, Ryan Phillips, Lauren Ragle, Rolbert Richmond, Michael Nerby-Sarafolean, Robert Skinner, Charlencia Taylor, Samantha Thompson, Jonathan Toles, Steven Totty, and Daniel Willbourne.

Garth Ewing

PropstDr Janann Sherman, departmental chair, then presided over the presentation of several awards made by the Department of History. The Major L. Wilson paper prizes were created by the department in honor of Dr Major L. Wilson, who taught for some 35 years, specializing in American social and intellectual history, and his high standards for student writing. For 2010-2011 the undergraduate prize went to Matthew Garth (above left) and the graduate prize to Kaylin Ewing (above right — apologies to Ms Ewing for the badly out-of-focus photograph of her award). Rebekah Propst (right foreground) received the Tennessee Historical Commission Prize for the history student with the highest grade-point average.

Gillaspie prize

Dr Sherman then spoke about the Dr. William R. and Lucille Gillaspie Scholarship, which began last year with a gift by the Gillaspies’ sons in honor of their parents (Dr Gillaspie taught Latin American history for 37 years). Greg Gillaspie (above left) was present and spoke briefly about the prize. Last year’s award had gone to Frances Breland (above, second from the right), and the award for the current year was made to Hafife Montgomery (above right).

Baroff

Dr Sherman then presented the prize for Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching to Ken Baroff (above).

Dr Sherman turned the awards for Outstanding Adjunct Teaching over to Dr Doug Cupples, who coordinates adjunct teaching. Dr Cupples explained that this year was unusual in that two awards were made — to Dr Louise Cooper (below left) and Dr Jim Johnson (below right).

Garth Ewing

The ceremonies ended with closing remarks by Ms Colvin.


Five doctoral candidates present prospectuses for dissertations

[1 April 2011] An unusually large number of doctoral candidates presented the prospectuses for their dissertations this afternoon at the last session of the academic year. Usually there are only four presentations at most (the session scheduled for March was canceled entirely for lack of presenters), but today there were five.

Prater LejmanTammy Prater (shown at the left) led off with “‘Smile and Wear Pearls’ The Panel of American Women — Advocates of Social Harmony, 1957-1991.” She was followed by Ken Baroff, who presented “Memphis and Shelby County Schools, post Brown.” Michael Lejman (shown at the right) spoke about “Being Different: The Life and Work of Albert Memmi.” Victoria Gray then presented “Mission of a Meddler: Mary Church Terrell as a Prototype of Elite Black Female Leadership, 1890-1915.” Frank Williams ended the session with “Bimetallic Monetary Policy and Railroad Overcapitalization: Causes of the Depression Years, 1893-1897.”


Department announces details of Kell F. Mitchell Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

[31 March 2011] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History announced in September 2010 a scholarship in honor of Dr Kell F. Mitchell, who died in July 2010 after serving the department for 47 years as a full-time and post-retirement faculty member.

The department today released full details of the scholarship:

Each May, faculty members of the department will select a deserving student for this award based on the following criteria:

  • Full-time undergraduate student at The University of Memphis
  • History major
  • In Junior year (i.e. 61-89 credit hours)
  • Completed at least 21 credit hours in history at The University of Memphis
  • Highest GPA in history courses taken
  • In the case of a tie the individual with the overall highest GPA will be selected

$500 will be awarded to the University of Memphis Junior who meets these criteria. The $500 may be used for course books and supplies, etc., for the following fall semester.

Download a poster for the scholarship in Microsoft Word format


Department announces Belle McWilliams Scholarship in American History; applications due by 15 April

[31 March 2011] The Department of History will award one Belle McWilliams Scholarship in American History for the Fall Term 2011 in the amount of $2500.

The scholarship was established by Major Benjamin Schultze and his sister Mrs. Louise Fellows as part of the Belle McWilliams Fund, which also sponsors the annual Belle McWilliams Lecture Series. They named the fund in honor of Miss Belle McWilliams, their aunt and guardian, “who for 40 years taught American History in the Memphis Public School system.’

To be eligible for the scholarship, the applicant must:

  • be an undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences (only sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible)
  • be a resident of the United States
  • have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher
  • demonstrate a special interest in United States history
  • have diverse extracurricular activities

The application form is available online as a PDF document at http://www.memphis.edu/history/pdfs/mcwilliams_form.pdf. All the required materials for the application, including the application form itself, a letter of recommendation, and an unofficial University of Memphis academic transcript, must be sent in electronic form by 4 pm on Friday, 15 April, to Ms Karen Jackett at mkmiller@memphis.edu. The application form can be filled in and saved using the latest version of Adobe Reader (version X). Plug-ins for browsers will usually allow you to fill in and print the form but some will allow saving the completed form and others will not. The surest way to work with the file is that if it does not open in Adobe Reader when you download it, save the file before you enter any information and then load the saved file into Adobe Reader. You then should be able to fill in the form, save it with all the information, and send the saved file to Ms Jackett as an attachment to an e-mail message.

For more information, contact Dr Kent F. Schull at kfschull@memphis.edu.


Dr Gail Murray receives Cynthia Pitcock Women’s History Award at St. Mary’s

[31 March 2011[Murray speaking We announced last month that Dr Gail Murray had been named this year’s recipient of the Cynthia Pitcock Women’s History Award (read the article). She officially received the award this morning in a ceremony at St. Mary’s Episcopal School held in the Church of the Holy Communion during the chapel service.

Sheila Patrick, chair of the Upper School’s History Department since 1984, presented the award on behalf of the Cliosophic Society, the school’s history honor society. Dr Murray then spoke to an audience composed largely of students about her experiences in researching and writing history, with an emphasis on locating female voices and placing them in the historical record.

The Cliosophic Society held a reception in honor of Dr Murray in the Morrow Room of the school following the ceremony.

Several earlier recipients of the award were present. They included Dr Cynthia Pitcock, for whom the award is named and who was the first recipient in 2002; Dr Peggy Jemison Bodine, 2006; Jeanne Crawford, 2009; and Dr John Harkins, 2010.

The Department of History has figured prominently in the Pitcock Award. Dr Pitcock herself received her Ph.D. in 1985. Both Dr Selma Lewis, who received the award in 2003, and Dr John Harkins, last year’s recipient, received the Ph.D. in 1976. Dr Peggy Jemison Bodine, the recipient in 2006, received her Ph.D. in 1992. Sheila Patrick, who presided over today’s ceremony, received the M.A. degree in 1974.

For more information about Dr Murray’s academic achievements, please read our earlier article announcing that she had been chosen for the award.

Pitcock plaque
A portion of the Pitcock Award plaque, showing Dr Murray’s name

Recipients
From left to right: Dr Harkins, Dr Bodine, Dr Murray, Dr Pitcock, Ms Crawford


Graham Perry’s exhibit on Tennessee’s civil-rights sit-ins wins award from Tennessee Association of Museums

[28 March 2011] The traveling exhibit on the 50th anniversary of Tennessee’s civil-rights sit-ins which Graham Perry created is currently installed at the National Civil Rights Museum and will run until 6 June (see details on our unofficial list of events). We received word today that the exhibit on which this traveling exhibit is based, which ran from February through April of 2010 at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, has received an award for best temporary exhibit for 2010 from the Tennessee Association of Museums.


Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas elected to membership in Colombian Academy of History

[25 March 2011] Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas, associate professor and our specialist in Latin American history, has been elected as a member of la Academia Colombiana de Historia.

The organization, created in 1902, acts as an advisory body to the Colombian government for the conservation of the cultural heritage of the nation. Its stated objectives include a commitment to restore the country’s collective memory,-to contribute actively in the promotion of a history that allows understanding the past and foreseeing the future, the careful study and analysis of the history of Colombia from pre-Hispanic times to the present, and to promote such study through periodic private sessions; public sessions and conferences, congresses, and other academic acts. Its chief publication is the journal Boletín de Historia y Antiguëdades.

To be elected to the academy, a scholar must have contributed substantially to the advancement of the discipline of history through research and publications, have a national recognition for his or her work, and be nominated by his or her peers and by members of the academy.

Dr Dueñas-Vargas has published extensively on the history of women and family life in Bogotá from colonial times through the 19th century (see her biographical page on this website).


Dr Charles Crawford comments on urban population loss in New York Times

[24 March 2011] Responding to the recent news that Detroit has lost 25 percent of its population in the last 10 years, Katharine Q. Seelye had an arrticle in today’s New York Times (available online) in which she quoted Dr Charles W. Crawford, professor, about a far greater loss by Memphis in the 1870s. According to Dr Crawford, the yellow fever epidemic of the 1870s nearly destroyed the city, with its population of about 40,000 dropping by more than half in 1878 alone. The exodus exceeded that of New Orleans, which lost 29 percent of its population in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. By 1880 enough people had returned that Memphis was almost back to its pre-epidemic level of population, but it was only in the 1890s that the city grew to become the largest in Tennessee.


Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas speaks on the tango at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[18 March 2011] At the second pizza lunch for the semester, Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas spoke today on “The Hidden History of Tango.”

The last event of the semester will be a lecture by a graduate student on his or her research, a tradition that has developed in recent years. The meeting will be held on 15 April; the student and topic will be announced later.


Dr Janann Sherman to serve on the Shelby County Historical Commission

[17 March 2011] County Mayor Mark Luttrell has nominated persons to serve on various county boards and commissions, subject to their confirmation by the County Commissioners on Monday. Among them is Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the Department of History, who will join the newly revived Shelby County Historical Commission. The commission had not had any new members since 1998 and some members continued to serve as volunteers long after their terms had expired.

Today’s issue of the Commercial Appeal had a brief article (available online about the appointments.


Department of History hosts West Tennessee History Day

[5 March 2011] The Department of History was host today to West Tennessee History Day, district competition between individuals and teams from middle schools and high schools in the western region of the state in various historical projects. These included research papers, exhibits, documentaries, performances, and websites on the theme “Debate and Diplomacy in History.” Winners from each category are eligible to participate in the state competition to be held in Nashville in April and, if successful there, to the national competition at the University of Maryland at College Park in June.

Judges were drawn from faculty, staff, and graduate assistants of the Department of History, and from volunteers from the community.

Lists of today’s winners will be posted on the West Tennessee district page on the Tennessee History Day site when they are available.


Student newspaper interviews departmental members about West Tennessee History Day

[4 March 2011] In connection with West Tennessee History Day, which will be held tomorrow on the third floor of the University Center, the Daily Helmsman today had interviews with three members of the Department of History (article available online). Although the headline erroneously stated that this is the state competition, the body of the article correctly identified the competition as district competition for the West Tennessee region.

The interviews by reporter Timberly Moore were with Emily Schwimmer and Angela Martin, both history graduate students and assistant coordinators for the event, and Dr Maurice Crouse, professor, who is serving as one of the judges in the website competition.


Daily Helmsman reveals Dr James Blythe’s early work in lexicography

[3 March 2011] While he was a graduate student at Cornell University, Dr James Blythe, professor, worked for a company that was producing a dictionary for the Brother Corporation to use in one of its word-processing machines. Dr Blythe was one of ten writers and five editors who worked for four years on the project. Along with Dr John Bensko, professor of English, and Earl Ingram, junior English major, he was featured today in an article entitled “Word Nerd” in the student newspaper, The Daily Helmsman (available online). In the article Dr Blythe explains how he and the others on the project prepared for and conducted the project, and comments on the qualities that make one a good lexicographer.


Old Cordova School Museum seeks an intern to work with historical materials

[3 March 2011] The Old Cordova School Museum (now the Cordova Community Center) needs an intern to work with the preservation and display of historical materials. The school is on the National Register of Historic Places and will be 100 years old in 2013, when a community celebration is planned, and there is the hope that the museum can be organized by that time.

Those who are interested in joining the project should send e-mail to Dr James Fickle, who directs internships within the Department of History.


Departmental members in the news lately

[28 February 2011] The origin of the name of the most famous street in Memphis appears to have been lost. Dr Charles W. Crawford, professor, and Dr John Harkins, Ph.D. 1976, along with others, commented on the question in an article in today’s issue of the Commercial Appeal (available online). Dr Crawford doubted that we will ever know how Beale Street got its name: “By the time people got around to asking obvious questions about the name, the records were gone.” Dr Harkins questioned whether we should even try to find out: “As a species, we're too focused on knowing the answers to everything. We have a precision that takes some of the grace out of life.”

Today’s issue of the university’s news bulletin, Update, had an article about the two books that Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, and Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, are writing for the bicentennial celebration of the university (also available online).


Dr Gail Murray wins Cynthia Pitcock Women’s History Award

[23 February 2011] Dr Gail Murray recently won the Cynthia Pitcock Women’s History Award, which is given annually by the history department at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. The award is named for Dr Cynthia Pitcock, who formerly taught in that department.

Dr Murray received her Ph.D. in history in 1991 from our department, writing her dissertation on “Poverty and Its Relief in the Antebellum South: Perceptions and Realities,” with Dr Major Wilson as the major professor. She became one of the first women to earn tenure as a faculty member in the Department of History at Rhodes College, and she later became the first woman to serve as department chair, a position which she held from 2005 to 2009. Her edited volume, Throwing Off the Cloak of Privilege: White Southern Women Activists in the Civil Rights Era (2004), explored how middle- and upper-class white women defied convention and joined the effort to fight segregation and economic injustice. Recently she published a profile of Memphis activist Jocelyn Wurzburg in Tennessee Women: Challenging Boundaries, Claiming Identities (2009). She is working on research projects on the history of the Metropolitan Interfaith Association (MIFA), the Young Woman’s Christian Association (YWCA), and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) workers in Memphis. On the Rhodes campus, Dr Murray regularly offers a course titled Black and White Women in the South, in which students explore how race and gender pose unique challenges and opportunities for women.

An alumnus of the department, Dr John Harkins (Ph.D., 1976), won the award last year (read our article about the award). Dr Pitcock received her Ph.D. from our department in 1985. She wrote her dissertation under the direction of Dr Major Wilson on “The Career of William Beaumont, 1785-1853: Science and the Self-made Man in America.”


Dr Susan O’Donovan has article on slave information network in the pre-Civil War South in opinion pages of New York Times

[19 February 2011] Dr Susan O’Donovan, assistant professor, has published an article on William Webb, a slave who created an information network in the period before the Civil War. The article appeared in Opinionator, the online opinion pages of the New York Times and has generated discussion in Disunion, one of the newspaper’s pages on Facebook.

Born in Georgia, Webb was taken first to Mississippi and then to Kentucky, where he worked as a hired-out slave, moving from one master to another. This mobility allowed him to make connections with slaves in various parts of the South, making it easy for him to create and sustain a growing network of slaves. Webb’s network was only one of many. In Georgia, Houston Holloway, an enslaved blacksmith conducted what he called a “reading club” but which was in effect a political club, discussing issues of the day.

Toward the end of her article, Dr O’Donovan mentions the large concentrations of slaves who were employed in tripling the South’s railroad mileage within 10 years and “also contained enormous subversive potential.” Such large gatherings concerned Georgia slaveholder Richard Lyon, who worried that the slaves would eventually go home with “their minds inflamed by the vicious with false & mischievious notions. . . Can any sensible man doubt the result?”

Dr O’Donovan suggests that “we need to pose a new set of questions about the disunion crisis, questions that take into account the William Webbs, the Houston Holloways and all the slaves about whom Lyon fretted. In fact, perhaps we should ask what really frightened that Georgia planter and his secessionist generation: Abraham Lincoln and a handful of arch abolitionists, or the hydra that curled beneath slaveholders’ feet?”


Dr Daniel Unowsky speaks on anti-Jewish violence in Western Galicia in 1898 at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[18 February 2011] In the first Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch for this semester, Dr Daniel Unowsky, professor, spoke today on “Rumors, Religiosity, and Riots: Anti-Jewish Violence and Mass Politics in Western Galicia in 1898.”

The theme for these lectures is Chaos and Controversy. Dr Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas, associate professor, will speak on 18 March. By tradition, the last lecture of the year is by a graduate student. This final pizza lunch will be held on 15 April; the presenter and topic will be announced later.

After several years of having Phi Alpha Theta initiations in an informal setting, this year the chapter will host a formal banquet honoring new inductees in the Fountainview Suite of the University Center on 2 April. Details are forthcoming.


Dr Beverly Bond and Vincent Clark appear with Vanessa Williams in Who Do You Think You Are?

[4 February 2011] There was no opportunity to announce it in advance, but perhaps you caught this evening’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on Channel 5.

In this episode Vanessa Williams traced her ancestry on one side of her family to a free black man who enlisted in the Union Army and fought in South Carolina during the Civil War.

On another side she traced her ancestry to William A. Fields, who served in the Shelby County delegation in the 44th General Assembly of Tennessee and on the Shelby County Court during the period before restrictive laws began curtailing black political rights. During this part of the program Ms Williams met at the Memphis Public Library with Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, who discussed with her the narrowing of political opportunities and the violence directed at blacks at the same time that that narrowing created a strong sense of community among the city’s black residents. She showed Ms Williams a record of the Tyler Chapel A.M.E. Church which noted that her ancestor had been a Sunday School superintendent. Following that, Ms Williams went to the Shelby County Archives, where Vincent L. Clark, part-time instructor, showed her a resolution in the records of the Shelby County Quarterly Court commending Mr Fields for his ten years of service.


Two doctoral candidates present dissertation prospectuses

[4 February 2011] Two doctoral candidates made their presentations of the prospectuses for their dissertations at a session held this afternoon, the first of a series of such presentations for the Spring Semester 2011.

Conway SaundersJames Conway (shown at left) presented “Moving Forward: The Memphis NAACP and Black Community Activism after the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.” and Richard Saunders presented “Ordinary People: The Complexities of Tradition and Change in Tennessee's Fayette and Haywood Counties, 1958-1972.”

The remaining sessions are scheduled for 4 March and 8 April.


Graduate Association for African-American History conducting a “penny drive” for a school in Ghana

[3 February 2011] The Graduate Association for African-American History is hosting a “penny drive” to help support the Atiyeenu Village school in the Volta Region of Ghana, West Africa. The village is located outside the city of Ho and has 700 members. It has only 9 teachers and the school children range in age from 4 to 13 years. Because it is in a rural area, the school does not receive the same amount of financial support as those in urban areas. The money collected will help fund such things as repairs, school supplies, books, uniforms, and desks.

GAAAH has placed a container in the History office, 219 Mitchell, where donations can be made until the end of February. Although it is nominally a “penny drive,” GAAAH urges you to be generous in your support of this project.

For more information, e-mail Kaylin Ewing, president of GAAAH.


Theban Tomb 16 group elects to continue field work in Egypt

[2 February 2011] Dr Suzanne Onstine reported early today that Internet and cellular telephone service had been restored in Luxor. She and doctoral students Virginia Reckard and Liz Warkentin decided that Luxor was safe enough for the time being, so they opened the tomb for work. In making this decision, Dr Onstine said that she was basing it on her own instincts as well as the interpretation of the locals that they are not being threatened.

We reported yesterday that she had been interviewed by the Commercial Appeal. In her message today, Dr Onstine mentioned other telephone interviews, a newspaper interview, and an item in National Geographic Daily News.

UPDATE: The 3 February issue of the Daily Helmsman had an article (available online) on the situation in Luxor, adding much more detail to our story.


Several members of the Department of History interviewed about current Middle East developments

[1 February 2011] Recent developments in the Middle East are being widely reported in American media, and some of them are reaching out to academics for expert opinions and commentary. Dr Kent Schull, assistant professor and our specialist in modern Middle East history, and Dr Peter Brand, associate professor and one of our Egyptologists, appeared in several televised interviews yesterday on NBC Channel 5, ABC channel 24, and Fox News 13.

Today’s issue of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported a satellite telphone conversation with Dr Suzanne Onstine, assistant professor and the other of our Egyptologists. Dr Onstine is in Luxor with two Egyptology doctoral students, Virginia Reckard and Liz Warkentin, excavating a Theban tomb. She was quoted as saying that Friday saw a pitched battle between demonstrators and police but nothing like what was happening in Cairo and that Monday was the first day that felt rather normal. Still, she and the students will have to decide soon whether to scrap the project for the current season or to stay and continue the work.

Since the summer of 2007 Dr Onstine has been conducting an epigraphic field work project in the tomb of Pa-nehsy and Ta-renut (Egyptologists refer to it as TT16), across the Nile from Luxor in the Theban necropolis. She describes TT16 as a painted Ramesside tomb that has many unique scenes of temple activity and scenes relating to the worship of the deified Amenhotep I and Ahmose-Nefertari.

Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes, is on the east bank of the Nile, about 315 miles by air south of Cairo. It is also the location of the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. Dr Brand is now the director of that project, continuing the work of his mentor, Dr William J. Murnane. He is not in Egypt at this time.


Frances Breland has article on the original Flying Tigers in U of M Magazine

[20 January 2011] Graduate assistant Frances Breland has an article on the original Flying Tigers in the University of Memphis Magazine (available online). The university’s Air Force ROTC program is nicknamed “the Flying Tigers,” but very few people know that the university’s first pilot training program actually took place during World War II in the Civilian Pilot Training Program under the auspices of the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and later the War Training Service. The program was one of many through the nation (he most famous participants in the CPTP were the Tuskegee Airmen).

Nationwide, before the program ended in 1944, over 100,000 pilots received training. While the number of students who participated in the university’s program cannot be determined exactly, the estimate is that between 100 and 150 student pilots were trained for participation in World War II and/or as commercial pilots. This included four women.

Ms Breland is doing research for the books that Dr Janann Sherman and Dr Beverly Bond are preparing in connection with the university’s centennial year.


Dr Chris Ivanes publishes book on Simion Bărnuţiu and the Romanian Revolution of 1848-1849 in Transylvania

Ivanes book cover[12 January 2011] Dr Chris Ivanes received his Ph.D. in 2010 with a dissertation entitled National Ideology and The Making of a Nation: Simion Bărnuţiu and the Romanian Revolution of 1848-1849 in Transylvania under the direction of Dr Daniel Unowsky. It was published in Romania in December 2010 in English.

Dr Ivanes is editor and producer for programs concerning European affairs at Radio Romania Regional, Radio Cluj, where he has won several awards, including the Deutsche Welle prize for radio journalism and the “European Journalist” prize awarded by the European Commission’s Delegation to Romania as an acknowledgement of the quality of the radio program “The European Idea” which he hosted on Radio Cluj.


Endowment Committee announces the Kell F. Mitchell Award for best junior history major

[5 January 2011] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History honors the memory of our colleague and friend, Dr Kell F. Mitchell (1936-2010), who served for many years as an advisor to undergraduate history majors at The University of Memphis, with an annual award for the best junior history major.

The recipient of the Kell F. Mitchell Award will be announced in the Spring semester and the prize money will be distributed at the beginning of the following Fall semester. The award will be in the amount of $500 for purchase of books and other course-related supplies.

The recipient, in the semester during which the winner is determined, should have (1) junior standing (i.e., 61-89 credit hours), (2) completed a minimum of 21 credit hours in History, and (3) the highest GPA in History courses, as determined by the Undergraduate Coordinator. In the case there are two or more students who share the highest GPA in History, the highest overall GPA shall determine the recipient of the award.


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