History Happenings for 2009

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Dr Janann Sherman begins series for The University of Memphis Magazine on the university’s history

[23 December 2009] Free tuition? $2 registration fee ($1 for summer term)? Not available these days, these were the rates charged for students who began their education in 1912 at what was then West Tennessee State Normal School.

Other interesting tidbits may be found under the title of “The makings of a University” on page 3 of the print edition of The University of Memphis Magazine for Fall 2009 and also online. This is the first of a series prepared by Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair, which will appear in the Magazine as the university approaches its hundredth birthday in 2012. The article acknowledges the assistance of Cynthia Sadler and Rachel South.

Dr Sherman and Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, are writing two books about the university’s history which are scheduled to appear during the centennial year.

Department of History graduates three M.A. students and four Ph.D. students

[19 December 2009] At the fall 2009 commencement held this morning at the FedEx Forum, three graduate students were awarded the degree of Master of Arts and four were awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

The new M.A.s were Jenny Demilio, Mark McClellan, and Rachel South.

Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, was the major professor for Louise Cooper, who wrote her dissertation on “Great Overlord of the Name: The Office of Nomarch during the First Intermediate Period,“ and for Robert Griffin, who wrote his dissertation on “The Worship of Syro-Canaanite Deities in Egypt: Iconographic, Epigraphic, and Historical Analyses of the New Kingdom Evidence.”

Dr Charles W. Crawford, professor, was the major professor for John Bass, who wrote his dissertation on “Bolsheviks on the Bluff — A History of the Memphis Communists and their Labor and Civil Rights Contributions, 1930-1957.”

Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair, was the major professor for Kimberly Nichols, who wrote her dissertation on “The Civil Rights Underground: The Movement for Compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Dr Kent Schull, assistant professor, served as an academic marshall for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Charles Dewitt, doctoral candidate and part-time instructor, served as one of the pronouncers.

Seven graduate students receive endowment grants for Spring and Pre-session 2010

[17 December 2009] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History is pleased to announce the recipients of graduate student conference and research funding awards for the Spring/Pre-Session 2010 period:

  • Malcolm Frierson — presenting paper at the annual conference of the National Council for Black Studies in New Orleans in March 2010
  • Sheena Harris — carrying out research at the Library of Congress in Washington in March 2010
  • Heather Jendoubi — presenting paper at the Critical Islamic Reflections Conference in New Haven in April 2010
  • Jared B. Kresbach — presenting paper at the 11th annual Current Research in Egyptology conference in Leiden, Netherlands, in January 2010
  • Kristin Nelson — carrying out research at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin in March 2010
  • Laura A. Perry — presenting paper at the European Social Science History Conference in Ghent, Belgium, in April 2010
  • Darin Stephanov — carrying out research in Sofia and Istanbul in May/June 2010

Funding from the Endowment Committee is awarded on a competitive basis and recipients are required to submit follow-up reports.

The deadline for Summer 2010 period conference and research funding is 1 March 2010. Application guidelines will be emailed at the start of the Spring semester.

Dr Dennis Laumann nominated for Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award

[15 December 2009] Dr Shannon Blanton, vice-provost for undergraduate programs, today announced the nominees for the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award for 2009-2010. Among the nominees was Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor.

In previous years Dr Laumann has won several other teaching awards, including the 2006-2007 Thomas W. Briggs Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award, the 2006 Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences, and the 2003-2004 Excellence in Teaching Award from the University Honors Program.

Dr Susan O’Donovan to chair and comment at session on slavery and emancipation on 5 March 2010

[11 December 2009] Before going on to Charleston for the Conference on Race, Labor and Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South, to be held 11-13 March, Dr Susan O’Donovan, assistant professor, will be the chair and commentator for a session on “Shadows: The Underside of Slavery and Freedom” on Friday, 5 March, from 2 to 3:30 pm, as part of the Conference on Charting New Courses in the History of Slavery and Emancipation, sponsored by the University of Southern Mississippi and held on its Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, MIssissippi.

Dr O’Donovan is our scholar-not-in-residence this academic year — she is doing research at the Newberry Library in Chicago on a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.

Bill Frazier has book signing for volume on Arkansas soldiers in U.S.-Mexican War

[9 December 2009] Bill Frazier (M.A. in history, 2002) was the curator of “Try Us”: Arkansas & the U. S.-Mexican War, at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock in 2005 (read our article about it). He and Mark Christ edited the papers that came out of the seminar under the title Ready, Booted & Spurred: Arkansas in the U.S. - Mexican War. Today, in a “Brown Bags & Books” session at the Museum, they discussed and signed the book.

The papers deal with the role of the citizen-soldier, the impact of war preparations upon the citizenry, movement of troops and yet-to-be organized volunteers, the war’s effect on Americans’ perception of their nation, and the strain caused by massive territorial acquisition following the war.

Dr Andrei Znamenski has advance contract for publication of book with the Quest Press

[4 December 2009] Dr Andrei Znamenski, assistant professor, has received an advance contract from the Quest Press for a trade history paperback entitled Red Shambhala: Magic, Blood, and Power Over Asia. The contract calls for the delivery of his manuscript along with 40 black and white illustrations by June 2010.

Dr Peter Brand receives letter of interest from University of Chicago Press for second volume on Hypostyle Hall project

[4 December 2009] Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, has received a letter of interest on the part of the Oriental Institute Publications at the University of Chicago Press for the publication of a second volume on the Hypostyle Hall project that he is conducting at Karnak in Egypt, a project begun by Dr William J. Murnane. The book that might result would be titled The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, volume I, part 2: The Wall Reliefs: Translation, Commentary and Photographs.

Dr James Blythe publishes two volumes on Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca)

[4 December 2009] Dr James Blythe’s two volumes on Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) have been issued under the imprint of Brepols Publishers in its Disputatio series. Volume 1 is entitled The Life and Works of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) and volume 2 is entitled The Worldview and Thought of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca).

The volumes have the following description by the publishers:

Fiadoni, volume 1Tolomeo Fiadoni (1236-1327) was one of the most remarkable of medieval writers. Living to almost one hundred years of age, Tolomeo bore witness to some of the most important events of the period. He studied and traveled with Thomas Aquinas and was elected Dominican prior in Lucca and Florence. He attended the saintly Pope Celestine V during Celestine’s doomed reign, lived at the papal court in Avignon, served in the households of two cardinals, and associated with the infamous Pope John XXII. At 80, Tolomeo was appointed bishop of Torcello in the Venetian Lagoon, where his superior, the Patriarch of Grado, subsequently excommunicated and jailed him. Tolomeo is known today for his major contribution to republican political thought, most notably his continuation of Thomas Aquinas’s only political treatise. However, he also wrote treatises on imperial and ecclesiastical power, a commentary on the six days of creation, a massive Church history, and a European history from 1063 onward. Drawn from all known surviving sources, The Life and Works of Tolomeo Fiadoni is the first full-length study of Tolomeo's life. It discusses each of his works, and addresses numerous problems of authorship and dating.

Fiadoni, volume 2Tolomeo was one of the most important political theorists and historians of the Middle Ages. He was central to developing a theory for the practices of Northern Italian republicanism, and was hostile to kingship, portraying it as despotic and inappropriate for virtuous and freedom-loving people. He was the first writer to compare Aristotle’s examples of Greek mixed constitutions — Sparta, Crete, and Carthage — with the Roman Republic, the ancient Hebrew polity, the Church, and medieval communes, yet he remained a staunch defender of the absolute secular and spiritual monarchy of the pope. These tensions are often overlooked in scholarly treatments of Tolomeo. Blythe, however, explores them in the context of Tolomeo’s broader influences: Aristotelian theory, Augustine and the apologists for papal power, his life in the Dominican Order, educational experience with Thomas Aquinas, and social position as a member of Northern Italy’s ruling class. These factors exerted contradictory influences on Tolomeo, and led him to a frequently unsuccessful intellectual struggle for consistency and harmony. This book is the first full-length study of Tolomeo’s thought and gives full consideration not only to the political writings for which he is most known, but also to his historical and exegetical works.

Dr Jonathan Judaken has article published in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

[4 December 2009] Dr Jonathan Judaken, associate professor, had his article “Homo antisemiticus: Lessons and Legacies” published in Holocaust and Genocide Studies 23: 461-477.

Dr Kent Schull presents his research on children in late Ottoman prisons at December Faculty Brown Bag

[4 December 2009] Dr Kent Schull, assistant professor, today led a discussion of a proposal for a book on the subject of prisons in the late Ottoman period and a chapter on children in Ottoman prisons from that book. His presentation was one of a series of Faculty Brown Bag sessions coordinated by Dr Catherine Phipps.

Diana Fordham appointed Assistant Dean of Arts at Jackson State Community College

[23 November 2009] We learned today, somewhat belatedly, that Diana Fordham was appointed Assistant Dean of Arts at Jackson State Community College, where she is an assistant professor of history in the Department of Social Sciences. She has been serving since the beginning of the fall semester.

Ms Fordham received her Master of Arts degree in history in 2004, concentrating in Middle Eastern and African history. She is working toward a Ph.D. in the philosophy of education, specializing in instructional design for online learning. For the past two years she has been a judge for West Tennessee History Day in the new category for Web sites designed by middle-school and upper-school students.

Dr Arwin Smallwood speaks in lecture series at North Carolina Central University

[15 November 2009] Dr Arwin Smallwood, associate professor, spoke on Friday, 13 November, in the D.W. Bishop Lecture series at North Carolina Central University. The focus of his lecture was on presenting the Indian Woods Project, an ongoing project to develop and publish both a standard monograph and a digital website detailing a comprehensive history of the interactions of Native Americans, Africans and Europeans within the Indian Woods community in Bertie County, North Carolina, using interactive GIS-based maps. The maps are being connected to digitized photographs, relevant audio and video clips, historic manuscripts, and documents that will be made available along with the maps on the web. (View an example of the maps created by Dr Esra Ozdenerol, associate professor of geography, and Cem Akkus, Ph.D. student in GIS and geography.)

During the 1920s, the study of history figured prominently in Dr James E. Shepard’s vision of providing a liberal arts education for blacks. Beginning in 1929, students could earn a degree in history at the North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University). Its Department of History has produced more students who have earned doctorates in history than that of any other historically black college or university. Dr Smallwood himself is an alumnus of that program, having earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NCCU before going to The Ohio State University to earn his Ph.D.

The lecture series in which Dr Smallwood spoke honors the life and work of David W. Bishop, who taught history at NCCU for 20 years.

Teaching Tactics Brown Bag discusses teaching large lectures

[13 November 2009] Drs Janann Sherman, Jonathan Judaken, Dennis Laumann, and Aram Goudsouzian shared their tips and tricks for successfully teaching large lectures.

Dr James Gelvin lectures on political Islam in Sesquicentennial Lecture Series

[9 November 2009] Speaking on the topic “The Global War on What, Exactly? Making Sense of Political Islam,” Dr James Gelvin delivered the Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture for 2009-2010 this evening in the main auditorium of the Fogelman Executive Center.

Gelvin lecturingDr Gelvin noted that the Department of Homeland Security has recently shifted from using terms to speak of al-Quaeda that have religious connotations to such terms as “violent extremists” and “terrorists,” a movement from religion to terrorology, he said. Maintaining that “words matter,” that is, that labelling has power, he called attention to the problems of labelling Islamic groups and movements. Jihad, for example, is understood among Muslims in very differing ways. For al-Quaeda it connotes armed struggle and is a personal obligation for all Muslims. Many Muslims assign armed struggle to governments, not individuals, and regard the belief that is a personal obligation as a heresy from the first century of Islam. Osama bin Laden seeks to position himself as a salafist although his education was in business, not religion, and as such has presumed to issue fatwas. Salafists regard only the Qur’an and the Hadith (authentic traditions about Mohammed) as authoritative. But within Islam there are divergent attitudes about those sources. Some, such as the Taliban, regard them as an instruction manual, to be followed literally. Others, usually called reformists, regard them as points of departure to align Islam with the modern world, finding in them precedents for women’s rights and human rights in general. (Dr Gelvin noted that Westerners who look to the reformists to bring Islamic society and government closer to Western standards ignore the fact that they already represent a religious reformation. “Speaking as a Catholic,” he said that their position was comparable to Martin Luther’s on many issues.)

The new terms preferred by the Department of Homeland Security are too vague to be meaningful, he maintained. Some forty-two groups have been labeled as terrorists, although they differ greatly in their goals and approaches. The word “terrorism” itself is a relatively recent term in the English language, and its literal meaning in quotations from the Qur’an is derived from the verb “to scare,” not necessarily implying physical attack.

Dr Gelvin examined the writings and thinking of Ayman al-Zawahiri, generally regarded as the number-two man in al-Quaeda, in detail. Zawahiri identified two groups as “fifth column” movements within Islam. The first were those who had abandoned the obligation for jihadi after having advocated it, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (to which he had at one time belonged). The second were those accused of the sin of particularism, working for goals short of universality, such as Hamas and Hezbollah which concentrate on Islamizing their own nations. Even these “Islamo-nationalists” disagree as to whether there should be any participation in politics to achieve this goal.

As to how to classify al-Quaeda and al-Qaeda-like groups, Dr Gelvin said that they should not be regarded as a special category of religion. He suggested that the most applicable category was that of “Islamo-anarchist.” For most Westerners, anarchism is taken to be an intellectual tradition that prevailed from about 1880 to about 1920. Dr Gelvin maintains that is is not a tradition, but rather a category of political phenomena. He said that all anarchists are isomorphic, differing in some details but basically similar at their core. He listed four characteristics. Anarchists are in their rhetoric highly defensive (“Why do we attack you? Because you have attacked us.”) They are anti-systemic — the system is regarded as the agent of oppression. Al-Quaeda, for example, says that nationalism was imposed on the Middle East to weaken it, and insist that nation-states must be eliminated to restore the ummah, the community of all believers. Characteristically, anarchists propose a counter-system or counter-community, which in many cases is only vaguely outlined. Al-Qaeda and other groups often advocate the re-establishment of the caliphate, but have very differing views as to how it would operate. Lastly, anarchists draw from the cultural milieu in which they live. Al-Quaeda draws from salafism and has litle in common with 19th-century European anarchists.

Dr Gelvin finds problems with using religious terms to describe political Islam. They mystify the subject, making it more difficult, rather than less difficult, to understand rationally, and they also reinforce the idea of Islamic exceptionalism. Likewise, he finds that using terms like “terrorist” mistake the attribute for the essence and can, at best, be used only as a kind of blunt instrument. His conclusion is that existing social science classifications can be used quite satisfactorily to understand political Islam.

In the question-and-answer period which followed his lecture, Dr Gelvin elaborated on the problem of mistaking the attribute for the essence. He said that we often confuse the tactics they use with the goals of the enemy. He quoted writers who say that the United States should declare war only on proper nouns. The United States did not declare war on “sneak attacks” but upon Japan and its ultimate goals. He suggested, therefore, that a “war on terrorism” is misguided and that the United States might be able to talk with hostile nations or groups today in much the same way that it talked with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. While we should have “no truck with al-Quaeda,” talks with Hamas or even Iran, despite Iran’s blatant antisemitism, could work through divisive issues to agree on other points.

Dr Gelvin mused on the question “What, exactly, defines a terrorist?” Was the Army officer at Fort Hood a terrorist? Was the shooter in the engineering firm in Orlando a few days later a terrorist? Was the Army officer’s being a Muslim the reason that terrorism might be suspected in his case and not the other?

Asked as to when he thought the conflict between Israel and Palestinians might result in a two-state agreement, Dr Gelvin replied, “Not soon.” He explained that there really was no one to talk to on either side, the Israeli government not being interested in that solution and the Palestinians not even constituting a single government. He noted that peace settlements in that area — such as between Egypt and Israel — have always come from within the region itself and that the United States has not yet produced a treaty that worked.

Dr Gelvin, professor of modern Middle East history at UCLA. is a specialist on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, terrorism, and political Islam. His publications include Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire; The Modern Middle East: A History; and Israel Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. Another book, From Modernization to Globalization: The United States, the Middle East, and the World Economy in the Twentieth Century, is forthcoming.

Dr Sarah Potter speaks on “Beyond the Cleavers: Diversifying the 1950s TV Family” at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[6 November 2009] Dr Sarah Potter spoke this afternoon at a Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch on the topic “Beyond the Cleavers: Diversifying the 1950s TV Family.” This year’s theme is the interplay between media and history.

Dr Beverly Bond’s work with L. O. Taylor Collection featured in Update article

[6 November 2009] The November 2009 issue of the printed version of Update has a front-page article on Dr Beverly Bond’s work with the collection of materials by the Reverend L. O. Taylor which are now part of the Center for Southern Folklore. The Reverend Taylor was pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in the Springdale community of North Memphis from 1931 to 1956. During that time he made 16-mm movies, photographs, and audio discs of the lives, events, and sounds of the African American communities in Memphis in an era of segregation. The Center for Southern Folklore has included in an online exhibit a biography of the Reverend L. O. Taylor and a history of the collection.

Dr Bond is currently on a Professional Development Assignment from the College of Arts and Sciences to do research with the collection. She intends to write a biography of Mr Taylor, using the collection, which includes approximately 30,000 feet of film, 100 hand-cut 78-rpm discs, 5,000 negatives, and 500 prints, acquired by the Center after his death in 1977, as an important source of information.

Dr Arwin Smallwood discusses his Indian Woods project and the use of arcGIS at Faculty Brown Bag presenation

[30 October 2009] At the October session of the Faculty Brown Bag held during the noon hour today, Dr Arwin Smallwood made a presentation about his Indian Woods Project in Bertie County, North Carolina, and the use of arcGIS in digitizing valuable archives.

Distinguished Alumnus Tom Appleton and departmental members pictured in Arts and Sciences photographs

[27 October 2009] We reported several weeks ago on the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Chapter awards ceremony at which Dr Thomas Appleton was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus (read the article). The photographs included in that article were not made by a professional photographer, and the college has now made available better photographs of the ceremony, made by Lindsey Lissau and posted on her photostream at the flickr website. Besides the “detail” views to which this link leads, you have the option of viewing all the photographs as thumbnail images or as a rather fast-moving slideshow. The photographs do not have full captions, but you will find the honoree and departmental members in the following images:

  •  3 — Sarah Chumney and Dr James Chumney chatting with Dr Appleton
  •  8 — Dr Maurice Crouse chatting with Dr Thomas Nenon and Dr James Latta
  • 10 — Dr Scott Marler and Dr Beverly Bond chatting with Dr Appleton
  • 12 — Sarah Chumney
  • 18 — Dr Bond
  • 22 — Dr Marler, Dr Bond, and Dr Janann Sherman at History table
  • 24 — Dr Chumney introducing Dr Appleton
  • 25 — Dr Appleton at his family’s table
  • 26 — Dr Appleton making his remarks
  • 27 — Another view of Dr Appleton making his remarks
  • 28 — Dean Henry Kurtz and Dr Appleton with the award plaque
  • 47 — Dean Kurtz congratulating Dr Appleton
  • 49 — President Shirley Raines congratulating Dr Appleton

You may get a somewhat larger image by clicking on any “detail” image.

Two Daily Helmsman articles feature GAAAH Thanksgiving Canned Food/Penny Drive and departmental video presentation at 2010 meeting of the American Historical Association

[27 October 2009] Today’s issue of the Daily Helmsman has two articles about recent developments in the Department of History.

A front-page article by Erica Horton tells about the project of the Graduate Association for African American History to raise funds for a children’s school in Atiyeenu Village, Ghana, an effort which will continue through 12 November. It also mentions the association’s drive to secure canned goods for the Memphis Food Bank, which will continue through 24 November.

Tucked away on page 4 is an article by Beth Spencer about the department’s being chosen as one of eight departments to make a video presentation at the January 2010 meeting of the American Historical Association. 

Department of History chosen as one of eight to be featured at 2010 convention of the American Historical Association

AHA [19 October 2009] The Department of History has been chosen as one of eight to be featured at the annual convention of the American Historical Association to be held in San Diego 7-10 January 2010. At the opening keynote address of the convention, giant screens will broadcast a video presenting the major themes of the convention through five-minute examples of the best practices at eight institutions. The themes are Achieving Excellence in Teaching Practice, Globalization Historiography, World Class Learning Environments, Curriculum Transformation, Digitization and New Media in Teaching, and Historic Preservation.

Adam James, executive producer of Historians TV in the U.K., the company that is producing the videos, recently wrote, “It is clear that the University of Memphis’s History Department has some key messages in these areas to get across to the AHA audience and the key people in the History/Historiography forum.”

In addition to being shown at the opening keynote address, the video will be shown on a continuous loop at locations around the convention venue and on dedicated cable channels in the hotel rooms, and streamed on the AHA website. A DVD of the program will be made available to all delegates at the convention. The film will also be included in Historians TV news broadcasts and on the Historians TV website, which remains live for 12 months after the event.

Filming is expected to start within the next few weeks. The department will have full and clear copyright to not only the five-minute final production, but also to all the raw footage shot by the production team; in short, the department retains full rights to all materials shot for it for its own public relations, recruitment, and marketing purposes.

You may see examples of what Historians TV did for last year’s AHA convention in New York on their website, http://www.historianstv.com. Click on Featured Films to see examples from the University of Massachusetts, Princeton, and James Madison University.

Dr Beverly Bond participates in discussion and book signing for Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, Vol. 1

[17 October 2009] With her co-editor, Dr Sarah Wilkerson Freeman, associate proessor of history at Arkansas State University, Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, participated this afternoon at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in a discussion and book signing for Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, Vol. 1. The book was published earlier this year by the University of Georgia Press.

The book has eighteen essays on leading women from all three regions of the state and various aspects of the state’s history and culture, including suffragists, civil rights activists, and movers and shakers in politics and in the music industries of Nashville and Memphis.

The book bears the strong imprint of both current members of the faculty in the Department of History at The University of Memphis and alumnae of our doctoral program. In addition to co-editing the book, Dr Bond contributed the article “Milly Swan Price: Freedom, Kinship, and Property” and collaborated with Dr Betty Sparks Huehls (Ph.D., 2002) in “Sue Shelton White: Lady Warrior.” Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor, wrote “Wilma Rudolph: Running for Freedom”; Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair, wrote “Phoebe Fairgrove Omlie: Wing Walker, Parachute Jumper, Air Racer”; and Dr Gail Murray (Ph.D., 1991, former chair of the Department of History, Rhodes College) wrote “Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg: Feminist and Race Woman.”

Dr Janann Sherman gives keynote address at conference of Women in Higher Education in Tennessee

[16 October 2009] Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, this evening gave the keynote address at the annual Women in Higher Education in Tennessee conference at Belmont University in Nashville. The theme of the two-day conference was “Change That Counts: Forging the Future for Women in Higher Education.”

Laura Cunningham publishes Haunted Hemphis, to do book signings for it

Haunted Memphis [16 October 2009] Laura Cunningham, M.A. candidate, recently published Haunted Memphis, which has the publisher’s description:

Much like its muddy riverbanks, the mid-South is flooded with tales of shadowy spirits lurking among us. Beyond the rhythm of the blues and tapping of blue suede shoes is a history steeped in horror. From the restless souls of Elmwood Cemetery to the voodoo vices of Beale Street, phantom hymns of the Orpheum Theatre and Civil War soldiers still looking for a fight, peer beyond the shadows of the city's most historic sites

In connection with Haunted Memphis she will do book signings at the Cotton Museum at noon on 17 October and BookStar at 2 pm on 24 October. She will make a television appearance on WREG’s “Live at 9” on 23 October. She will speak at the Memphis and Shelby County Room of the Public Library at 7 pm on 29 October and have a book signing and speaking event at “Haunted Happenings” at the Woodruff-Fontaine House at 7 pm on 30 October.

She will also have a second book, Lost Memphis: An Illustrated History of the Forgotten Bluff City, which will be out early next year.

While she is completing her master’s degree, Ms Cunningham is working in the History Department at the Memphis Public Library. She has also been working with Victorian Village, Inc., on their Strengthening Communities grant which hey recently received.

Dr Andrei Znamenski speaks at opener for Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunches

[9 October 2009] Dr Andrei Znamenski was the first speaker in Phi Alpha Theta’s series of pizza lunches on the theme of the interplay between media and history. His topic was “Red Shambhala: ‘Blood and Soil’ in the Heart of Asia, 1910s-1920s.”

Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary organization for history students, sponsors pizza lunches monthly, usually on the second Friday in the month.

Dr D’Ann Penner’s book on New Orleans and Katrina wins Congressional Black Caucus award

[9 October 2009] The 2009 Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Leadership in Journalism Award went to Overcoming Katrina: African American Voices from the Crescent City and Beyond, by Dr D’Ann Penner and Dr Keith C. Ferdinand, with a foreword by former president Jimmy Carter. Published by Palgrave Macmillan earlier in 2009, the book has received wide critical acclaim.

Dr Penner taught Russian and Soviet history at The University of Memphis and was director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change. Intending to enter law school, after leaving The University of Memphis she first was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, senior consultant at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and Social Justice Fellow at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City. She is now attending her first year of law school at Loyola University and is a Scholar in Residence at the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University.

History graduate students and faculty participate in ASALH convention

asalh-1[5 October 2009] Many graduate students and faculty members of the Department of History participated in the 94th annual convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Cincinnati during the period 30 September-4 October.

Le’Trice Donaldson presented “Soft Men cannot Carry The Hard Fight: African American Soldiers Fight for Citizenship and Manhood in the Spanish-American-Cuban War” as part of the panel on Am I Not a Man and a Brother: Black Masculinity in Defense of Itself.

asalh-2James Conway presented “Beyond 1968: The 1969 Black Monday Protest in Memphis, Tennessee” and Shirletta Kinchen presented “‘We Can’t Be Isolated Any Longer. . . Damn It We’re Here!!’: Memphis State University, the Black Student Association and the Politics of Racial Identity.” Together they composed the panel on The Black Freedom Movement in Memphis Before and After the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Daryl Carter presented “A Betrayal of the First Order: Bill Clinton and Welfare Reform” as part of the panel on Race, Reform, and Critical Examination of Contemporary Politics.

asalh-3Dr Arwin Smallwood presented “Teaching African-American History With Maps” as part of the panel on Pedagogy and Higher Education.

Dr Aram Goudsouzian and Daryl Carter participated on the discussion panel on The State of Contemporary Black Politics.

Malcolm Frierson and Thomas Young also attended sessions but did not present papers.

The convention’s Web site has abstracts of most panels and papers. Unfortunately, to access them one must be logged in to the site, either as someone who has established an account or as a guest user. If you wish to read these abstracts, you will have to go to a special search page, which should automatically log you in as a guest user. From there you can search for most of the papers and panels by entering memphis in the box for Affiliation:. (For Daryl Carter you must search for the affiliation east tennessee because he has a teaching appointment at East Tennessee State University.) From the results returned you may click on the name of an individual to bring up information about the panels and papers associated with him or her.

Photographs courtesy of Shirletta Kinchen.

Dr Andrei Znamenski delivers keynote address at Alaska Historical Society conference

[22 September 2009] Dr Andrei Znamenski, assistant professor, was the keynote speaker at the meeting of the Alaska Historical Society in Unalaska, Alaska, 16-19 September. His address, “Patriot Games: Alaska in Modern Russian Nationalist Rhetoric,” was simultaneously published (in English) in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 57, no. 3 (2009). (Read the article (pdf).)

GAAAH hosts eleventh annual Graduate Student Conference in African-American History

[21 September 2009] The Graduate Association for African-American History hosted the eleventh annual Graduate Student Conference in African-American History on September 9-11. Participants came from such institutions as Vanderbilt University, the University of Pennsylvania, Louisiana State University, New York University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Würzburg in Germany. Numerous faculty members and graduate students from our department served as chairs of the sessions and as commentators on the papers.

The highlight of the conference was the keynote address by Dr Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University, Founding Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, and Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Collection at Morehouse College. Dr Carson entitled his lecture “The Global Significance of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.”

The concluding session was a roundtable discussion about graduate school and the historical profession which featured two alumnae of the Graduate Student Conference: Dr Deirdre Cooper Owens, Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi, and Dr Sowande’ Mustakeem, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in History, Washington University in St. Louis.

The conference concluded with the awarding of the “Memphis State Eight’ prize, given to the best papers in the conference, in honor of the eight courageous African-American men and women who integrated the university in 1959. The first-place prize went to Kimberly Sambol-Tosco of the University of Pennsylvania for “The Dilemma of Black Families and Households: A Reconsideration of the Transition to Freedom among African- Americans in the North before the Civil War.” Kevin Boland Johnson of Mississippi State University won second prize for “Taking It to the Streets: Garbage Men, the Memphis Crises of 1968, and Problems with Trash Collection.” Third prize went to Kyle Ainsworth of the University of Southern Mississippi for “The Harbinger of White Supremacy: The Clarke Courier, 1869-1877.”

A fuller account of the conference, with photographs, appears in the September 2009 issue of the departmental newsletter, History Happenings.

Dr Peter Brand appears in two programs on ancient Egypt for National Geographic Channel

[20 September 2009] Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, appeared this evening in two programs on the National Geographic Channel: “Race to Bury Tut” and “Egypt Unwrapped: The Real Raamses.”

Endowment Committee announces recipients of funding for Fall 2009/Winter Break

[15 September 2009] The Endowment Committee of the Department of History is pleased to announce the recipients of graduate student conference and research funding awards for the Fall 2009/Winter Break period:

  • James Conway (presenting paper at the 94th Annual Association for the Study of African American Life and History Convention in Cincinnati in September/October)
  • Le’Trice Donaldson (presenting paper at the 94th Annual Association for the Study of African American Life and History Convention in Cincinnati in September/October)
  • Sharon Price Fairbanks (presenting paper at the Southeastern College Art Conference in Mobile in October)
  • Kat Fox (presenting paper at the American Historical Association annual meeting in San Diego in January 2010)
  • Shirletta Kinchen (presenting paper at the 94th Annual Association for the Study of African American Life and History Convention in Cincinnati in September/October)
  • Tammy Prater (presenting paper at the 2009 Social Science History Association Conference in Long Beach in November)
  • Cynthia J. Sadler (carrying out doctoral research on the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission during the Civil Rights era in Mississippi)
  • Katarzyna Scherr (carrying out doctoral research on daily-life scenes in Luxor, Egypt, in January 2010)

Funding from the Endowment Committee is awarded on a competitive basis and recipients are required to submit follow-up reports.

The deadline for Spring 2009/Pre-Session period conference and research funding is 1 December 2009. Application guidelines will be emailed in early October.

Dr John E. Harkins has book signing for his latest book

[13 September 2009] This afternoon Dr John E. Harkins had a book signing at Memphis University School for his latest book, Memphis Chronicles: Bits of History from The Best Times.

Dr HarkinsDr Harkins received his Ph.D. in history from what was then Memphis State University in 1976, writing his dissertation on “The Neglected Phase of Louisiana's Colonial History: the New Orleans Cabildo, 1769-1803” under the direction of Dr William Gillaspie. He served as Shelby County Archivist from 1979 to 1985. He began teaching history at Memphis University School in 1986 and has served as the departmental chair and school historian. Among other memberships, Dr Harkins has served eight years as president of the West Tennessee HIstorical Society. He has written Historic Shelby County: An Illustrated History; The MUS Century Book; The New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana’s First City Government, 1769-1803 (with Gilbert C. Din); and Metropolis of the American Nile — An Illustrated History of Memphls and Shelby County.

Laura Perry wins Love of Learning grant from Phi Kappa Phi

[13 September 2009] Laura Perry, teaching assistant, has received one of Phi Kappa Phi’s Love of Learning grants. The grant of $500 was one of only 50 selected from more than 1000 applications this year.

Phi Kappa Phi, founded in 1897, is the oldest all-discipline honor society in the nation (the other honor societies in existence at the time were in the liberal arts alone or in a specific scientific discipline). Its Greek motto when translated into English is “Let the love of learning rule humanity,” from which the grant takes its name.

Dr Clayborne Carson lectures on “The Global Significance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

[10 September 2009] As the keynote speaker in the Eleventh Annual Graduate Conference held by the Graduate Association for African-American History, Dr Clayborne Carson spoke this afternoon on the topic of “The Global Significance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Clayborne Carson He began with a video about the National Theater of China presenting a play on Dr King. At its conclusion, he raised the question of why China would be interested in Dr King, because as they noted, they have few or no black people, they have never had a system of legal slavery, and they maintain that there is no racial discrimination in China. The key, he believes, is that the Chinese people have always been oppressed but have always struggled against that oppression.

Dr Carson said that he was surprised when Coretta Scott King asked him to be the editor of the King papers (“I don’t think you’ve got the right person.”), because in his own early writing about the civil rights movement he had made Dr King almost into a footnote to the movement rather than a principal. In an article for the Journal of American History he maintained that if Dr King had not lived, the movement would have happened anyway. Dr King did not start the Montgomery bus boycott — it was handed to him for leadership after it was underway. Students started the sit-ins. The Congress on Racial Equality sponsored the Freedom Rides, which he did not join. But as he studied Dr King's career, Dr Carson came to realize that even for organizations like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Dr King was the most important figure. Why? Because he brought a sense of historical importance and global significance to the various movements.

Dr Carson thinks that people today (as he himself did earlier) minimize Dr King by making him simply a civil rights leader. We remember his speeches for one sentence in them, such as the “mountain top” speech and the “I have a dream” speech. We should read the entire speeches, he maintains, to understand what Dr King’s message was. As an example of Dr King’s real message, he called attention to the speech made on December 5, 1955, when the Montgomery bus boycott was just beginning. Various leaders besides Dr King spoke that day but their speeches are not remembered. They were concerned with what to do the next day to keep the boycott alive, with the goal of getting bus drivers to be more polite to black passengers. Dr King said that what they were doing was of historical importance, speaking of the Constitution, the Sermon on the Mount, Jefferson, and the Declaration of Independence. Dr King understood that what was happening in Montgomery was part of a global movement, connected with efforts to end apartheid in South Africa and to achieve self-determination in India. Dr Carson noted that Gandhi started out in South Africa and carried on most of his activity there before his work in India. Dr Benjamin Mays of Morehouse College went to India and upon his return, influenced the thinking of the young student, Martin Luther King.

Dr Carson noted that the sixth volume of the King Papers departs from the usual chronological order of such collections to present all of the papers that are concerned with religion. He recommended that anyone who wishes to understand Dr King’s message and significance study those documents. According to Dr Carson, Dr King was strongly influenced by the theology of Howard Thurman, who met Gandhi in India and was challenged to rethink his Christian beliefs. An Indian asked him how he could be a Christian when Christianity was responsible for the enslavement of his people for 400 years. The result was a book in 1949, Jesus and the Disinherited, in which Thurman presented Jesus as a Jewish rabbi who identified with the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. When Dr King was studying at Boston University, Thurman was his mentor, and Dr King carried a copy of Thurman’s book with him. In 1953, in the midst of the McCarthy era, Dr King preached a sermon in which he maintained that Christianity — not capitalism — was the chief enemy of Communism, maintaining that if Christianity offered a message to the majority of the world, the landless, those without rights, those without education, there would be no Communism.

Toward the end of the lecture, Dr Carson maintained that Dr King throughout his life held consistently to the vision he expressed in a paper written in 1948 when he was a first-year seminary student. In that paper, he advocated knowing your people and dealing with the problems they have and freeing them from their oppressions, with what Dr Carson called a “Social Gospel” agenda in which civil rights as such were not even mentioned. Twenty years later, Dr King was still dedicating himself to that agenda. Americans today diminish Dr King by making him only a civil rights leader — who succeeded. This, Dr Carson said, dismisses the last five years of Dr King’s life, in which he dedicated himself to opposing the war in Vietnam, leading the poor people’s campaign, and advocating decent working conditions for sanitation workers in Memphis. The rest of the world, Dr Carson said, understands him better as someone who was attempting to throw off the bonds of oppression in all fields of human activity.

Dr Carson is the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. He is also Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection at Morehouse College. He received his doctorate from UCLA in 1975.

During his undergraduate years at UCLA, Dr. Carson participated in civil rights and antiwar protests, and many of his subsequent writings reflect his experiences by stressing the importance of grassroots political activity within the African- American freedom struggle. His first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Published in 1981, it won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Award. His other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991) and African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

Under Dr Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the Institute, has produced six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. — a projected fourteen-volume comprehensive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. In addition to these volumes, Dr Carson has written or co-edited numerous other works based on the papers, including A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998); The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from King’s autobiographical writings; and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).

The lecture was sponsored by Student Event Allocation, the Belle McWilliams Fund, the Department of History, and The University of Memphis.

Commercial Appeal article features Ghana study tour

[6 September 2009] Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor, took seven students to Ghana for a study tour of that country during the summer. Dr Miriam DeCosta-Willis accompanied the group, and today the Commercial Appeal had a long article about the tour written by her for the Reader Travelogue section of the newspaper. In the printed newspaper the article appears in the M section, pages M3-M4. It also appears online with more photographs, all of them in color, than the printed version.

Dr DeCosta-Willis has an even fuller account of her visit to Ghana online in Chicken Bones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes, with several photographs that are not in the newspaper account.

Dr DeCosta-Willis, now retired, was the first African-American faculty member at what was then Memphis State University, teaching in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature in the 1960s. She later taught at Howard University, where she was chair of the Department of Romance Languages, LeMoyne-Owen College, George Mason University, and the University of Maryland, from which she retired in 1999.

Dr Laumann directs the Memphis Study Abroad Program to Ghana, and it was in connection with that program that he took the group to Ghana. He is Chair of the Ghana Studies Council, an international scholarly organization which publishes the multidisciplinary journal Ghana Studies. He was a United States Fulbright Scholar to Ghana in 1996-97 and is a Research Affiliate of the University of Ghana.

ADDENDUM: The African and African American Studies site now has a report on the Ghana experience by Sheena Harris (pdf), graduate assistant.

“Can you tell me where Mitchell Hall is?”

Northwest sign[3 September 2009] If you have ever been near the east side of Mitchell Hall and seen a puzzled visitor looking around, you probably have been asked that question. Until today there would have been good reason for the visitor to look puzzled, because the only identifying signs were on the northwest corner of the building (photo at the left) and high up on the south side of the auditorium (photo at the right). Those signs have been in place for many years, but people walking on the east side of Mitchell Hall might never have seen them.

South sideToday, apparently without any advance notice or fanfare at all, a sign in large lettering appeared on the facade of the canopy on the east side (the side facing the University Center) that should allow visitors to be sure they have found Mitchell Hall.

The original canopy, which had been in place since the construction of Mitchell Hall in the 1950s, had deteriorated dangerously and was removed during the first week of January 2007 (read our article). Although it was announced at that time that a new canopy would be installed during the summer months of 2007, summer came and went, and so did winter and most of spring of the next year.

East sign

Work on the new canopy started on 9 May 2008 , and Physical Plant completed it on 9 September 2008. Now, presumably, they are responsible for the new lettering, which makes an attractive and helpful addition to the building.

Dr Jonathan Judaken wins Dunavant Professorship, Dr Walter R. Brown receives the W. Russell Smith Award for Teaching Excellence

[27 August 2009] It was a good day for the Department of History at this afternoon’s College of Arts and Sciences faculty meeting. Two members of the department won major awards, and Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair, received a fifteen-year service award. Dr Daniel Unowsky, professor, and Dr Jonathan Judaken, associate professor, received ten-year service awards.

The major awards had not been announced in advance of the meeting.

Brown and Kurtz The first major award — the W. Russell Smith Award for Teaching Excellence — went to Dr Walter R. “Bob” Brown, associate professor.

The W. Russell Smith Award, established in 1981, is the College’s highest honor for teaching excellence. The selection of a recipient is based primarily on nominations by seniors who are asked to nominate up to three of their professors who have taught for at least three years in the College. The award consists of a plaque and a cash award of $500.

The climax of the meeting was the announcement of the Dunavant Professors, one of whom was Dr Jonathan Judaken, associate professor.

The Dunavant Professorships are endowed by a generous gift from William Dunavant, Memphis businessman. The College of Arts and Sciences awards one to four professorships annually. Awardees receive $5,000 per year for three years to support their research programs.

This is the second Dunavant award made to a history faculty member in recent years. Dr James M. Blythe, professor, held a Dunavant Professorship from 2005 through 2008.

(The photograph of Dr Brown and Dean Kurtz is by courtesy of Debra Turner. Because there was no placque given to the Dunavant Professors, there was no photograph taken at the meeting. If a photograph is made later, it will be inserted here when it becomes available.)

Student organizations sponsor graduate student orientations and reception

[27 August 2009] Three student organizations — Phi Alpha Theta, the Graduate History Association, and the Graduate Association for African-American History — held new graduate student orientations and a reception this afternoon at the Alumni Center on Normal Street. During the first part of the event, new graduate assistants received an oriention. This was followed by an orientation for all new graduate students in the department. The concluding part of the event was a reception for students and faculty.

Here are some photographs of the event. In order, they are the orientation for new assistants (courtesy of Laura Perry), the orientation for new graduate students, the buffet at the reception (courtesy of Laura Perry), and the reception.

New assistants orientation New students orientation Buffet at reception Reception

Josh Gorman and Horace Houston receive Ph.D. degrees at summer commencement

Houston and Gorman [16 August 2009] At the summer commencement today, The University of Memphis awarded the Ph.D. degree to two graduates of the History program:

Dr Joshua Gorman (at right in photo), who wrote his dissertation on “Museums and the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma” under the direction of Dr James E. Fickle

Dr Horace Horace (at left in photo), who wrote his dissertation on “Catalyst for Antebellum Conflict: The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850” under the direction of Dr Charles W. Crawford

(Photo courtesy of Dr James E. Fickle.)

History faculty and students benefit from Travel Enrichment Funds

[27 August 2009] Among the awards announced at the College of Arts and Sciences faculty meeting this afternoon were the Travel Enrichment Funds. Only those persons seated at the front of the auditorium or blessed with extremely sharp eyesight would have known who received them because the names were not read and the display did not remain on the screen very long. According to the page for Accolades for 2009, thirty-seven persons in the college received a total of $37,400 for research travel in 2009. Of these, six are in the Department of History.

In the spring semester of 2009 funds were allocated to Dr Aram Goudsouzian and Shirletta Kinchen. During the fall semester funds will be provided to Catherine Phipps, Kent Schull, Robert Yelle, and Tammy Prater.

The funds help support faculty and students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are traveling to research centers and to conferences. Begun by Mr Philip Donovan in 2004, the program now has several sponsors.

Joshua B. Gardner wins Tennessee Historical Commission Award with perfect GPA

[25 August 2009] The Department of History annually makes the Tennessee Historical Commission Award to the history major graduating in the spring term with the highest grade-point average in history and overall studies. The award this year was made to Joshua B. Gardner, who graduated with a perfect 4.0 average.

In addition to this award, the department awards the Major L. Wilson Prize for the best paper written by an undergraduate student in a history course. We reported earlier this year that Devon Barnes won the award this year with “Literature, Legislation, and Political Ideology: Upton Sinclair and The Jungle,” written under the direction of Dr Peggy Caffrey.

Kevin Johnson and Tammy Prater appointed as assistant professors at Lane College

[23 August 2009] Kevin Johnson and Tammy Prater, both doctoral candidates, have accepted positions as assistant professors of history at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.

Mr Johnson is ABD in Egyptology, with a proposed dissertation on “Transition and Legitimation in Egypt’s Late 19th and Early 20th Dynasties: A Study of the Reigns of Siptah, Tausret, and Sethnakht.” Ms Prater’s field is U.S. history, with a focus on women’s history.

Dr Gary Edwards receives Fulbright Senior Fellowship to teach at the Free University of Berlin

Gary Edwards [20 August 2009] The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced yesterday that Dr Gary Edwards, assistant professor of history at Arkansas State University, has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Fellowship in American Studies. He will lecture as a visiting member of the faculty at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies located at the Free University of Berlin during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Dr Edwards won the fellowship after extensive evaluation by academic review boards in Washington, D.C. and Berlin. His proposal entitled “Race, Republicanism, and Ruralism: A Historical Narrative on Contemporary American Identity” highlights the paradoxical nature of personal liberty and societal order in a nascent democracy. It is designed to challenge German students to examine the U.S. past in order to understand its present. He will teach undergraduate and graduate courses on the American South, Civil War, and Early Republic. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr Edwards will continue researching and writing his first book on farming families of antebellum Tennessee.

Dr Edwards earned his Ph.D. in history from The University of Memphis in 2004, writing his dissertation on “Yeomen Families in a Slaveholders’ Democracy: Conflict, Community, and the Transition to Capitalism in Antebellum Southwestern Tennessee” under the direction of Dr Charles W. Crawford. He also taught history at The University of Memphis before receiving his appointment at Arkansas State University.

The Kennedy Institute is a premier venue for American Studies in Europe and Dr Edwards is one of a select group of U.S. faculty who annually travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Likewise, the Free University of Berlin has a storied intellectual reputation — including the setting where physicists first demonstrated uranium atoms could be split in the 1930s and later as a potent symbol of academic freedom during the Cold War.

The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided approximately 294,000 people — 108,160 Americans who have studied, taught or researched abroad and 178,340 students, scholars and teachers from other countries who have engaged in similar activities in the U.S. — with the opportunity to observe each others’ political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit the website at http://fulbright.state.gov or contact James A. Lawrence, Office of Academic Exchange Programs, telephone 202.453.8531, or email fulbright@state.gov.

Dr Dennis Laumann leads seminar at the University of Ghana

Ghana seminar [20 August 2009] On 6 August, Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor (center), led a Staff and Faculty Seminar at the Department of History at the University of Ghana.

The seminar on oral history was attended by about 20 graduate students and faculty, including historians Dr R. Addo-Fenning (left) of the University of Ghana and Dr Carina Ray (right) of Fordham University. Dr Kofi Baku, Head of the Department of History and a guest lecturer last year at The University of Memphis, chaired the seminar.

Dr Laumann discussed theoretical and methodological issues related to collecting and analyzing oral history. Many of the seminar participants were doctoral students in the History program about to embark on their field research.

Study Abroad groupDr Laumann’s presentation at the University of Ghana capped a one-month visit during which he also led the annual Memphis Ghana Study Abroad Program (see group photo). The group will make a report later for inclusion on the departmental blog.

Dr Susan O’Donovan’s book Becoming Free in the Cotton South wins Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board award

[15 August 2009] The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board, a unit of the Georgia Archives, annually gives its Award for Excellence in Research Using the Holdings of an Archive. The 2009 recipient of the award is Becoming Free in the Cotton South, by Dr Susan O’Donovan, assistant professor. The book was published by Harvard University Press in 2007.

The criteria for the award are ”evidence of an understanding of primary source research and the ability to use archival records effectively; intensive use of one or more significant, but under-utilized, archives records series in pursuit of a well-conceived research strategy; use of innovative techniques, or the application of archival data in different or novel uses; contribution to the greater understanding of the topic; or contribution to an increased awareness of available archives or resources. If the work is a book, it must show a strong link to archival research and the authors must have visited multiple repositories to do their research.

In reviewing Dr O’Donovan’s book, Dr Stanley Engerman described it as detailing “the major changes for the slave and free black population of Southwest Georgia in the years of settlement, of the Civil War, and of the economic and political adaptations to emancipation.”

The Organization of American Historians awarded the book the James A. Rawley Prize in 2008. The Rawley prize is awarded annually to a book dealing with the history of race relations in the United States.

Dr F. Jack Hurley reports on Emmy nomination and family trip to England and Scotland

[12 August 2009] The PBS film, Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers, in which Dr F. Jack Hurley appeared in August 2008 has been nominated for an Emmy award (read our article about the film).

Along with this news, Dr Hurley sent a full report about a trip to England and Scotland which he and members of his family made recently. This report is the very sort of thing that the departmental blog Memphis historians on the go was set up for.

Dr Hurley twice served as chair of the department and is now professor emeritus. Since his retirement in 2004 after 38 years of teaching, he has lived in Davidson, North Carolina. His wife, Dr Suzanne Linder Hurley, is also a historian.

Memorial volume for Dr William J. Murnane goes to press, Web site updated

[11 August 2009] E. J. Brill Academic Publishers will publish Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian History and Epigraphy in Memory of William J. Murnane early in the fall. The book, edited by Dr Peter J. Brand, associate professor, and Louise Cooper, doctoral candidate, is volume 37 in Brill’s series Culture and History of the Ancient Near East.

In the meantime, Brill has generously allowed Dr Brand and Ms Cooper to keep the website where some of the articles for the book have been posted for a few years. Dr Brand has now made the definite update to the site to include all the articles and other material from the book, including a complete bibliography of Dr Murane’s scholarly publications. He has also included a gallery with several images of Dr Murnane from his work in Egypt.

Dr Murnane died 17 November 2000. After receiving degrees from the University of Chicago, Murnane had done field work for many years at the Karnak Temple near Luxor, Egypt. After joining the Department of History at The University of Memphis in 1987, he taught courses in Egyptology and ancient history while continuing his field work on the Great Hypostyle Hall in the temple at Karnak. Dr Brand was one of his students in the M.A. program here and he was chosen to fill the position after Dr Murnane’s death. He also continues Dr Murnane’s work on the Karnak Temple and maintains the website Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project.

College of Arts and Sciences pages give publicity to Online Bachelor of Arts in History

[4 August 2009] Thanks to the College of Arts and Sciences for calling attention to the Online Bachelor of Arts in History program through links from both its current home page and the 27 July issue of E-Files.

With Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor, as the director, the program got off to a very successful start last Fall. It is currently the only online undergraduate degree program in the College of Arts and Sciences and one of only two hosted within The University of Memphis (the other is journalism, offered in the College of Communication and Fine Arts). The University College offers several programs through Regents Online Degree Programs and the Degrees at a Distance Program of the National Fire Academy.

After Slavery Project issues call for papers for Conference on Race, Labor and Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South

[2 August 2009] Dr Susan O’Donovan, who will be joining our faculty officially shortly as an assistant professor, is a team member of the After Slavery Project, which is a transatlantic research collaboration based at Queen’s University Belfast. She is also one of the organizers of the Conference on Race, Labor and Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South, which will be held in Charleston at the College of Charleston 11-13 March 2010. The conference is intended to present new and developing research on connections between race, labor, and citizenships across the former slave South, between the end of the Civil War and the early years of the twentieth century. This research builds on the insights of W. E. B. Du Bois in his paper entitled “Reconstruction and Its Benefits” and his book entitled Black Reconstruction. Proposals for papers are due by 20 November 2009.

The keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr Steven Hahn, author of the prize-winning A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration. Dr Hahn delivered the Belle McWilliams Lecture at The University of Memphis on 27 October 2005, speaking on the topic “Can Slaves Practice Politics?’

More information about the conference is available online on the After Slavery website page for the conference and in a PDF document of the call for papers.

Laura Perry to present paper at European Social Science History Conference in 2010

[29 July 2009] Laura Perry, teaching assistant, has been chosen to present a paper entitled “GIS and History — Manufacturing, Memphis, and the Great Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878” at the European Social Science History Conference that will take place 13-16 April 2010 in Ghent, Belgium.

Daryl Carter publishes chapter in book on media images of masculinity

Watson book [16 July 2009] Daryl Carter, doctoral candidate, has his first publication — a chapter entitled “Jungle Fever: Bold, Beautiful, and Unnecessarily Maligned” in Pimps, Wimps, Thugs, and Gentlemen: Essays on Media Images of Masculinity, edited by Dr Elwood Watson, professor of history and African American studies at East Tennessee State University, and published by McFarland.

Dr Stephen Stein interviewed for Commercial Appeal article about “The Forgotten War”

[12 July 2009] Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor, was quoted and paraphrased extensively today in an article in the Commercial Appeal about “The Forgotten War.” In the article a former Army pilot from Mississippi, Troy Lambert, recalled his experiences in Korea, particularly his role in flying American dignitaries and press corps members to the negotiatons in Panmunjam that ended the “Korean Conflict” with a cease-fire agreement in July 1953.

Mr Lambert was quoted as saying “I don’t think we really learned a damn thing, because if we did we didn’t use what we learned because we’re right back at it again.” Dr Stein said the biggest lesson learned from the conflict was “know what you’re getting into before you commit to war and don’t stop applying military pressure while a peace treaty is negotiated,” adding that U.S. commanders underestimated the grit of the North Korean military resulting in the drawn-out tug-of-war and that a similar shortsighted approach has been problematic for the United States in recent conflicts as well.

Dr Stein teaches military and naval history, diplomatic history, and the history of technology. He also directs the Online Bachelor of Arts in History Program and is an adjunct professor for the U. S. Naval War College (College of Distance Education).

The article is available online.

Dr Daniel Unowsky promoted to professor, Dr Aram Goudsouzian promoted to associate professor and receives tenure

[10 July 2009] Dr Daniel Unowsky, associate professor, has been promoted to the rank of professor, and Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor, has been promoted to the rank of associate professor and received tenure, effective with the beginning of the Fall Semester 2009.

Ann Mulhearn wins Bradbury prize for outstanding article in North Louisiana History

[8 July 2009] Ann Mulhearn, doctoral candidate, recently won the Max Bradbury prize, which is awarded for the most outstanding article published in the journal of the North Louisiana Historical Society. Based in part on her M.A. thesis of the same name, “Dangerous Liaisons: The Louisiana Farmers’ Alliance, the Anti-Lottery League and the Gubernatorial Election of 1892” appeared in North Louisiana History 39, no. 2-3 (Spring/Summer 2008): 96-114.

Dr Scott Marler and Dr Randolph Meade Walker write opinion articles on Founding Fathers for the Commercial Appeal

[5 July 2009] In connection with Independence Day, the Commercial Appeal today published four articles in its Viewpoint section reflecting on the Declaration of Independence. Two of them were by persons with connections to the Department of History.

Dr Scott Marler, assistant professor, wrote the article which the editors entitled “Shoving founders in our issues a bad fix” and sub-titled “Clumsy efforts deny humanity, complexity.” He teaches American and Atlantic World history at The University of Memphis.

Dr Randolph Meade Walker, pastor of Castalia Baptist Church and the recipient of the Ph.D. degree in history from The University of Memphis in 1990, wrote the article which the editors entitled “Deified view, reality clash: Liberty not for all in 1776.” and sub-titled “‘People’ of today draw strengths, benefits, from struggle of those left out in Philadelphia.” Dr Walker is also adjunct professor of history at LeMoyne-Owen College and of church history at Memphis Theological Seminary and has taught part-time in the Department of History at The University of Memphis.

The articles may be found online:

  • Dr Marler’s article
  • Dr Walker’s article

Laura Perry wins Woodbury Fellowship and Clubb Scholarship to attend ICPSR program

[27 June 2009] In addition to being named Best Teaching Assistant recently (read our article), Laura Perry has won the Ruth and Harry Woodbury Fellowship in Southern History, which is given to an outstanding graduate student who is working on the history of the American South.

In addition to that, she has received the prestigious Jerome M. Clubb Scholarship from the University of Michigan, a full scholarship to attend the summer program of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. The scholarship is sponsored jointly by ICPSR and the Social Science History Association. Ms Perry is taking an intensive course in Historical Quantitative Analysis, which she plans to use in her dissertation. The course is being taught by Professor Margo Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus, 22 June - 17 July.

John E. Marquart and Devon Colleen Barnes win Major Wilson Paper Prizes for 2008-2009

[27 June 2009] The Department of History each year awards the Major Wilson Paper Prize to a graduate student and an undergraduate student who have written the best paper in a course during the preceding year. This year’s graduate award goes to John E. Marquart, nominated by Dr C. Edward Skeen, for “Runaway Slaves: Resistance in Antebellum Tennessee as Seen in Memphis and Nashville Newspaper Advertisements,” and the undergraduate award goes to Devon Colleen Barnes, nominated by Dr Margaret Caffrey, for “Literature, Legislation, and Political Ideology: Upton Sinclair and The Jungle.”

The awards are named in honor of Dr Major L. Wilson, professor emeritus, who taught American history at The University of Memphis before his retirement. He twice received the Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, in 1974 and 1995. He also won the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award in 1974.

Department announces awards to graduate students for outstanding performance

[16 June 2009] The Department of History congratulates the graduate students who have won one of its awards. In announcing the awards, the Graduate Studies Committee noted that there were many deserving candidates from whom to choose, so the choice was very difficult.

Normally the department makes awards every two years for the best Ph.D. dissertations and best M.A. theses written during the preceding two years. The department was not able to do so the last time the awards were to be made. For the current period, the Best Ph.D. Dissertation Award went to Elton Weaver for “‘Mark the Perfect Man’: The Rise of Bishop C.H. Mason and the Church of God in Christ” and Ed Hamelrath for “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Reform of the German Volkspolizei in the State of Saxony after the Fall of the GDR, 1989-1994.” Also for the same period the Best M.A. Thesis Award went to Will Love for “Reason, Affection, and Religion: The Religious Thought of John Locke and Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury” and Chrystal Dykes Goudsouzian for “‘The Prophet of the God was Absent, His Wife was Hsmn-ing‘: Illuminating and Interpreting Reproductive Terminology at Deir el Medina.”

Laura Perry was named as Teaching Assistant of the Year.

The Full-Year Dissertation Fellowship, which allows a student to work full time to complete a Ph.D. dissertation, was awarded to Chris Ivanes for “National Ideology and The Making of a Nation. Simion Barnutiu and the Romanian Revolution of 1848-1849 in Transylvania” and Kat Fox for “Pidgin in the Classroom: Hawai’i’s English Standard School System, 1924-1960.”

The Fall Semester Dissertation Fellowship allows a Teaching Assistant one semester without teaching or grading to work on a Ph.D. dissertation. This award was made to Shirletta Kinchen for “‘We want what people generally refer to as Black Power’: Youth Activism and the Impact of the Black Power Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, 1965-1975” and Kevin Johnson for “Transition and Legitimation in Egypt’s Late 19th and Early 20th Dynasties: A Study of the Reigns of Siptah, Tausret, and Sethnakht.”

Carl Brown received the Bodine Fellowship, which provides a monetary award to a student working on a Ph.D. dissertation, for “‘Improving the Way to Opportunity‘: Internal Improvements in Arkansas, 1819-1860.”

Dr Beverly Bond is special guest at launch of online site for the Reverend L. O. Taylor Collection

[9 June 2009] Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor and director of the African and African American Studies Program, was a special guest this evening at the Center for Southern Folklore’s launch of its online site for the Reverend L. O. Taylor Collection. Other special guests were Michael Taft, head of the Archive at the Library of Congress' Folklife Center, and Martin Fisher, manager of the Recorded Media Collection at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University. As of Wednesday, 10 June, the exhibit is available to the public.

Dr Bond has received a Professional Development Assignment from the College of Arts and Sciences for the upcoming academic year to work with the collection of film, 78-rpm discs, negatives, and prints acquired by the Center after Taylor’s death in 1977.

The Reverend L. O. Taylor was pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in the Springdale community of North Memphis from 1931 to 1956. During that time he made 16-mm movies, photographs, and audio discs of the lives, events, and sounds of the African American communities in Memphis in an era of segregation. The Center for Southern Folklore has included in the online exhibit a biography of the Reverend L. O. Taylor and a history of the collection.

ADDENDUM [17 June 2009]: Today’s Commercial Appeal quotes Dr Bond in an article about the J. O. Taylor online site — the article is available online.

Shawn Fisher appointed to position at Arkansas State University-Heber Springs and has book article published

[9 June 2009] Shawn Fisher, teaching assistant, has accepted a position in history at Arkansas State University-Heber Springs. In addition, the chapter that he contributed to Black and White Masculinity in the American South, 1800-2001 has been published: “Masculinity and the Uniformed Southerner: The Arkansas National Guard and the Little Rock Crisis.” The book, edited by Lydia Plath and Serio Lussana, is a publication of Cambridge Scholars Publishing. For more information, read the announcement by the press.

University Web site features story of tour of Europe by class in Genocide in German History

[25 May 2009] We had an article on 22 April about the tour of Europe made by Drs Dennis Laumann and Daniel Unowsky and the students who took their course on Genocide in German History in the Helen Hardin Honors Program during the Spring months. There was a similar article with some additional photographs on the departmental blog.

The Web site for The University of Memphis has now outdone us by putting together a much more elaborate report on the tour. The production is aimed at students, so it concentrates almost entirely on the students who made the trip, but if you look and listen very, very carefully you can find traces of the professors too.

European tour photoThe story is part of a set of rotating features on the home page. If you are lucky enough see an image like the one at the right when you access that page, you may click on the words Learn about their trip. If another feature appears, you may reload the page continually until the proper image appears, but it might be easier to click on the image at the right or on the links in the following paragraph to the introductory page, slideshow, and video. Because the university changes the featured articles frequently, there is no guarantee as to how long this story will remain in the rotation.

The introductory page gives a very basic introduction and allows you to link to the slideshow and the video. Both the slideshow (46 images) and the video (8 minutes, 30 seconds) are extensive and far more informative than our brief reports. The video includes commentary by several of the students, including Christian Kane, senior, history major; Dan Buchanan, junior, anthropology major; Stephanie Maddox, sophomore. accounting major; and Gian Gozum, Asian studies and international trade and economics major. The narrator is Simon Wright, senior, philosophy major.

Yuan Gao receives Ph.D., six students receive M.A. at recent commencement

[20 May 2009] Yuan Gao received his Ph.D. in history at the Spring 2009 commencement of The University of Memphis held on 9 May. He wrote his dissertation on “Deconstructing the Provincial Identity: A Case Study of Post-Mao Shaanxi” under the direction of Dr James M. Blythe and Dr Lung-kee Sun.

Receiving the degree of M.A. in history were David Bartlett Allison, Jr., Lindsey Morgan Bray, Catherine S. Ginn, Sheila Kathleen Jacobson, James LaCas, and Rachel M. Nelson.

Dr Susan O’Donovan is guest editor for OAH Magazine of History issue on antebellum slavery

[19 May 2009] Antebellum slavery is the theme of the April 2009 (volume 23, number 2) issue of the quarterly Magazine of History published recently by the Organization of American Historians. The guest editor is Dr Susan O’Donovan, who is currently an associate professor of history and African and African-American studies at Harvard University, and who will join our faculty in Fall 2009 but will spend a year’s fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago before beginning her duties here (read our article about her award). In addition to editing the issue, she also contributed a foreword, “Teaching Slavery in Today’s Classroom,” which is available online.

The Magazine of History, edited by Carl R. Weinberg at OAH headquarters in Bloomington, has been published since 1985. Devoted to improving the teaching of U.S. history, it reaches an audience of more than five thousand college professors, high school teachers, public history professionals, and librarians. The April 2009 issue’s website gives access to several selected articles (in addition to Dr O’Donovan’s foreword), the cover image, the table of contents, and information about the Magazine of History: Members of the OAH may download the entire isue of the magazine as a PDF document from the website.

Tammy Prater publishes article on the Great Society

[4 May 2009] Tammy Prater, teaching assistant, has just had her first article published. “‘To Share in All the Blessings of Our Freedom’: The Concerned Women of Memphis and Shelby County and the Embodiment of Great Society Ideology” appears in Southern Historian 30 (Spring 2009). (Is it just a coincidence that her e-mail address is greatsociety@gmail.com?)

Dr Sarah Potter presents paper at Faculty Research Brown Bag session

[1 May 2009] Dr Sarah Potter today presented a paper on “‘Something that matters’: White Working-Class Domesticity in Postwar Chicago” at the last session for the academic year of the Faculty Research Brown Bag. The series will resume in the fall on the last Friday of the month.

Four departmental members receive recognition at 2009 Faculty Convocation

[29 April 2009] At the 2009 Faculty Convocation held in the Rose Theatre this afternoon, the program bulletin noted that two of the seven Faculty Research Grants awarded within the Arts and Humanities were made to Dr Peter Brand, associate professor, and Dr Sarah Potter, assistant professor. It also recognized Dr Abraham Kriegel, professor emeritus, and Dr Kell F. Mitchell, associate professor emeritus, for their recent retirement from the university.

Dr Sarah Potter receives two research grants

[24 April 2009] Dr Sarah Potter, assistant professor, has received a Faculty Research Grant from The University of Memphis. In addition, she has won a Short-term Research Fellowship in African American Studies from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, which is a consortium of African American history archives in Chicago. She will be in residence at the consortium in Chicago doing research during the month of June.

Dr Potter is one of seven recipients of the fellowship, which is being awarded this year for the first time. Her research will contribute to her current manuscript, “Family Matters: Domesticity and Everyday Life of Race, Class, and National Belonging in Postwar Chicago.” Among the collections she plans to use during her fellowship term are the Earnest Watson Burgess and Allison Davis Collections at the University of Chicago and the Urban League’s papers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Library.

For full details about the consortium’s awards, read the press release of the BMRC.

American Association of University Professors honors Dr Robert Frankle for forty years of service

Speakers[24 April 2009] At a ceremony held this afternoon, the Tennessee Conference of the American Association of University Professors recognized Dr Robert Frankle, emeritus associate professor, for his forty years of service to the organization. Those attending the ceremony included chapter members from The University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College, among them Dr Frankle’s wife Barbara, who is Dean of Academic Affairs at LeMoyne-Owen, and his daughter Margrethe, who is an instructor in the Division of Education at LeMoyne-Owen.

AwardDr Pinaki Bose, associate professor of economics and president of the local chapter, presided over the meeting. In making the award, Dr Delphia Harris, professor of chemistry at LeMoyne-Owen College and president of the Tennessee Conference, spoke of Dr Frankle’s service on both the local campus and the state-wide level and presented him with a certificate testifying to his service. She also presented him with a copy of the “red book”(the collection of policy documents and reports of the AAUP), which he was requested to pass on to someone who would carry on his tradition of leadership.

Dr Frankle remarked how when he began teaching at the university there were no published guidelines for tenure and promotion and how the “red book” was very valuable to him in working for changes. He then presented the book to Dr Jeffrey Berman, professor of psychology and president-elect of the Faculty Senate, whom he described as being committed to enhancing the faculty’s role in university governance.

Passing the red bookDr Berman said that Dr Frankle had been his mentor from the time of his own arrival on campus and attributed some of the recent actions of the Faculty Senate to Dr Frankle’s leadership and support. These included the newly-created Faculty Grievance Commmittee, which has no adminstrative members and reports directly to President Raines, and improvements in the appeals process for tenure and promotion which will appear in the next edition of the Faculty Handbook. Dr Berman said that he had been elected to his office on the pledge that he would work for change and attributed that spirit to Dr Frankle’s encouragement.

Drs Dennis Laumann and Daniel Unowsky report on Spring Break study-tour of Europe by students in their course on genocide

[22 April 2009] The following article is also on the departmental blog, Memphis historians on the go, with several more photographs than appear here (read the fuller article on the blog).

Dr Dennis Laumann and Dr Daniel Unowsky, associate professors in the Department of History, led a group of 16 Memphis students to Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic over Spring Break in March. The study tour was part of their Spring 2009 course entitled “Genocide in German History” offered through the university’s Helen Hardin Honors Program.

Auschwitz fences In the first half of the semester, the class met on Friday afternoons for lectures and discussions on topics related to the course theme, including German colonialism, the genocide of the Herero in German Southwest Africa, the Holocaust, and history and memory in today’s Germany.

The students and professors flew to Berlin on 6 March and on arrival visited the new Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe located in the heart of the reunited German capital.

Auschwitz barracksOver the following nine days, the Memphis group attended lectures by German scholars, toured Berlin’s Jewish Museum and Olympic Stadium, traveled on an overnight train to Cracow, and walked through Cracow’s medieval town center and Kazimierz, the city’s historic Jewish quarter. The class also took a guided tour of the Nazis’ largest concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, just outside Cracow. (Photographs show the group in front of the Jewish Museum, the fences at Auschwitz, and barracks inside Auschwitz.)

The trip ended in Prague with a walking tour of the Jewish quarter and a final day in Europe spent as tourists. (The last photograph is Dr Unowsky in front of his favorite Art Deco hotel, in Prague.)

The study-tour was the first trip abroad for many of the students, who focused on the very serious subject of the course but were also able to take advantage of this opportunity to see and learn about three great European cities.

Art Deco hotel ADDENDUM [25 May 2009]: Since our original article, the university’s Web site has produced a far more comprehensive report on the tour.

Myth/Conception Film Society ends its season with showing of “Heartland”

Movie poster[20 April 2009] As the final film in its series on “A Woman’s Place,” the Myth/Conception Film Society today screened Richard Pearce’s “Heartland,” a grimly realistic look at life on the American frontier shortly after the beginning of the 20th century. The film, made in 1979, starred Rip Torn as Clyde Stewart and Conchata Ferrell as Elinore Randall Stewart. Elinore Randall, an impoverished widow from Denver, moved to Burntfork, Wyoming, in 1910 to become the housekeeper for a Scottish rancher whom she eventually married. With Stewart and a small daughter from her first marriage, she endured and survived all sorts of hardships and heartbreaks.

The film was based on reminiscences published in 1914 by Elinore Pruitt Stewart under the title of Letters of a Woman Homesteader. The letters are online at the University of Virginia’s Etext site.

Departmental members participate in Egyptology symposium

[18 April 2009] Several members of the Department of History took part today in the second annual Egyptology Graduate Student Association Symposium, featuring the research of University of Memphis graduate students in Art History, History, and Egyptology. Topics related to the study of ancient Egypt included art history, philology, history, society, religion, and archaeology.

Dr Suzanne Onstine, assistant professor, made the opening remarks when the symposium began. Mark Janzen, teaching assistant, presented “Clay Coffins from Tell el-Borg”; Roy Hopper, doctoral candidate, presented “New Traces of Amenmesse at Karnak Temple”; and Rachel Mittelman, teaching assistant, presented “Late New Kingdom Fish Cults in Lower Egypt.”

Departmental members discuss online teaching

[17 April 2009] At the April session of Teaching Tactics Brown Bag this afternoon, Drs Sarah Potter, Stephen Stein, Catherine Phipps, and Kent Schull led a discussion of online teaching. This was the last of the series for the current semester.

Dr Charles W. Crawford and alumnus James Bradley participate in Great Conversations event for the College of Arts and Sciences

[16 April 2009] At the annual Great Conversations dinner this evening, Dr Charles W. Crawford, professor and director of the Oral History Research Office, and alumnus James Bradley discussed “Memphis and the Medical Implant Revolution” with the group at their table.

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and his Advisory Board initiated the annual Great Conversations dinner in 2002 in order to bring community guests together with award-winning research and teaching faculty for an evening of dining and conversation. The series has grown in popularity every year. Through these dinners College of Arts and Sciences hopes that those who attend will gain:

  • A knowledge of the far-reaching research taking place at the University of Memphis, one of America’s great metropolitan research universities
  • An understanding of how the College of Arts and Sciences is improving the quality of life in Memphis and the Mid-South through strategic research programs
  • A desire to support the students and faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences

Routledge publishes Dr Jonathan Judaken’s Naming Race, Naming Racisms

[16 April 2009] Naming Race, Naming Racisms, an edited volume by Dr Jonathan Judaken, associate professor, has just been published by Routledge.

The publisher describes the book as follows:

Eschewing social scientific approaches, which tend to examine race and racism in terms of quasi-static ideal types, this book surveys differing historical contexts from the era of scientific racism in the nineteenth century to the post-racial racism of the post-9/11 period, and from Europe to the United States, in order to understand how racism has been articulated in differing situations. It is distinguished by the attention it pays to the on-going power of racial discourse in the contemporary period as a legitimating factor in oppression. It exemplifies methodological openness, combining the work of historians, philosophers, religious scholars, and literary critics, and includes differing theoretical models in pursuing a critical approach to race: cultural studies; trauma theory and psychoanalysis; critical theory and consideration of the “new racism”; and postcolonialism and the literature on globalization. It brings together the work of leading academics with younger practitioners and is capped off by an interview with world-renowned intellectual Cornel West on black intellectuals in America.

In addition to editing the volume, Dr Judaken contributed the introduction and an essay entitled “So What’s New?: Rethinking the New Antisemitism in a Global Age.”

Daily Helmsman has article about Dr Dennis Laumann and the Marxist Student Union

[14 April 2009] Today’s issue of the Daily Helmsman has a front-page article (available online) about Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor, and the Marxist Student Union, the Registered Student Organization for which he is the faculty advisor Most people associate Marx only with communism, but Dr Laumann disagrees: “Marxism isn’t just communism. Within Marxism there are different perspectives, there isn’t just one view. Marxism is a theory to understand almost everything, while communism is more of a political ideology.”

Dr Aram Goudsouzian participates in panel of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

[13 April 2009] Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor, participated in a panel on “Iconic and Stereotypical Male Figures in American Popular Culture” at a conference of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association held in New Orleans 8-11 April. He reports that it was a freewheeling panel that pulled in themes such as the perceived crisis in modern American male masculinity, the notion of a mythopoetic men’s movement in the 1990s, and representations in popular culture for everything from “Mad Men” to Judd Apatow movies to “The Sopranos.”

Dr Robert Yelle’s article on the “Hindu Moses” accepted for publication

[13 April 2009] Dr Robert Yelle, assistant professor, has just received the news that his article “The Hindu Moses: Christian Polemics against Jewish Ritual and the Secularization of Hindu Law under Colonialism” will appear in the November 2009 (49:2) issue of History of Religions.

The article is the outcome of a paper that Dr Yelle read and submitted for criticism at the September 2008 meeting of the Faculty Brown Bag series. The seminars are usually held on the last Friday of each month at 12:30 pm.

Dr Scott Marler speaks on “Imperial Borderlands: Shifting Geographies of Trade and Power in Old New York” at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[10 April 2009] Dr Scott Marler, assistant professor, spoke today in the series of pizza lunches sponsored by Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary society for history students. The series is entitled “Borders Real and Imagined.” His topic was “Imperial Borderlands: Shifting Geographies of Trade and Power in Old New York.”

Dr Catherine Phipps gives introduction to Zen Buddhism at Japanese Movie Night

[8 April 2009 Tonight at a showing of the film Zen: The Life of Dogen Dr Catherine Phipps, assistant professor, gave a brief introduction to the history of Zen Buddhism. Dogen was a 13th-century monk who founded one of the main Zen sects, Soto-shu.

The night was sponsored by the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, The University of Memphis, and the Japan Outreach Initiative.

Three departmental members present papers at conference of the Society for Military History

[8 April 2009] Three members of the Department of History presented papers at a conference of the Society for Military HIstory, which was held 2-5 April 2009 in Murfreesboro, hosted by Middle Tennessee State University. The theme of the conference was “Warfare and Culture.”

In a session on New Perspectives on American Naval Technology in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor, presented “Before the Aircraft Carrier: The First Years of U.S. Naval Aviation.” Dr Arwin Smallwood, associate professor, presented “They Fought Side by Side: Black and Native American Union Soldiers in Eastern North Carolina during the Civil War” in a session on Combat Operations and Civilian Culture: Armies in the South during the Civil War. Shawn Fisher, doctoral candidate, presented “Helmets in the Halls: The Arkansas National Guard at Little Rock Central High” in a session on Changing Role of the Militia and National Guard.

Daily Helmsman has article about Dr James Blythe and his abstract photography

[7 April 2009] Today’s issue of the Daily Helmsman has an article on page 6 about Dr James Blythe and his photography under the headline “James Blythe: Love for the sun.” The headline refers to Dr Blythe’s use of sunllight as the only source of light in the abstract photographs which he has been making for the past 15 years. The article reported him as saying that he has always been interested in art, but painting and creative writing required much more preparation than photography. “I chose to be a historian, but I’ve always been interested in being an artist also.... Photography allows you to be much more aware of the world around you.”

The student newspaper’s article is available online.

Along with paintings by his friend Gail Buckman, Dr Blythe’s photographs are on exhibit at the Jack Robinson Photography Gallery in downtown Memphis. The exhibit continues through 22 May.

Several of Dr Blythe’s photographs are mounted in the Faculty and Staff Lounge in 100 Mitchell.

Egyptologists contribute to Pink Palace teaching project

Pink Palace display #1 Pink Palace display #2 [7 April 2009] Since November 2008, the Pink Palace Museum has been showing an IMAX film called Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs. It will continue to be shown until November 2009.

When school groups go to see the show, they also have an education unit which includes talking about being an Egyptologist. Some of the faculty and graduate students have contributed short biographies and photos which the teacher in charge has turned into small posters decorating the classroom. The purpose is to show young people that being an Egyptologist is a real career that they can study right here in Memphis and that most of us learned to love Egypt when we were children ourselves.

GAAAH collects over 800 items for Memphis Goodwill Industries

[5 April 2009] The Graduate Association for African and African-American History reported collecting more than 800 items in its clothing drive for Memphis Goodwill Industries which ended Friday. The items included belts, shoes, sportswear, professional attire, and baby, children’s, and adult’s clothing. GAAAH thanks those who contributed to this effort through personal donations, and those who encouraged students to support the drive.

Several departmental members participate in conference on The Obama Phenomenon: Race and Political Discourse in the United States Today

Obama conference[4 April 2009] Several departmental members took part in the conference The Obama Phenomenon: Race and Political Discourse in the United States Today, which was held yesterday and today. Yesterday Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, received one of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Awards in a ceremony that was introduced by Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor.

This morning Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, was chair of a panel on “Obama, Race, and Public Policy.”

Dr Jonathan Judaken, director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, helped to organize the conference and made the closing remarks as the conference ended.

Dr Beverly Bond receives Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Award

Bond award[3 April 2009] Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor and director of African and African American Studies, received this afternoon one of the two Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Awards for this year. The ceremony, held in the Panhellenic Building, was introduced by her colleague in the department, Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor.

This is the 34th year that the awards have been presented to a former student, or a current or former faculty or staff member of The University of Memphis. The recipients are selected on the following criteria:

  • A person who has consistently worked toward the furtherance of human relations through his/her work and/or extracurricular activities
  • A person who has consistently advocated nonviolent methods of social change
  • A person whose activities have consistently focused on the expansion of civil, social, and economic rights for those who have been deprived of the full scope of these rights

Bond and AKA membersDr Bond had a host of persons present to see her receive the award. They included family members, inlaws, sorority sisters, colleagues, students, friends, and other well wishers. She is shown here receiving the plaque for the award from Ms Velma Lois Jones and with several members of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

In her remarks Dr Bond told about growing up in a Memphis and a world very different from Memphis and the world today.

Myth/Conception Film Society screens “Imitation of Life”

Movie poster [3 April 2009] As the third presentation in its series “A Woman’s Place," the Myth/Conception Film Society presented Douglas Sirk’s film “Imitation of Life,’ produced by Ross Hunter andreleased by Universal Pictures in 1959. It was adapted from Fannie Hurst’s novel of the same name and was a remake of a 1934 film. It starred Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Dan O'Herlihy, Susan Kohner, Robert Alda, and Juanita Moore. Gospel music star Mahalia Jackson appeared as a church choir soloist.

In the film, Lora Meredith (Turner), a white widowed single mother with dreams of becoming a famous actress, takes in Annie Johnson (Moore), a black widowed single mother who becomes a nanny for Lora’s daughter Suzie (Dee). Although Lora eventually becomes a successful stage and screen star, she sacrifices a healthy relationship with her daughter. In addition, Annie’s light-complexioned daughter Sarah Jane (Kohner) causes her mother much pain and heartache as she attempts to pass for white and shuns both her heritage and her mother’s love.

The Myth/Conception Film Society says that Sirk’s film asks: “What’s going on here? Between mothers and daughters, between the races in America, between women and success, between friends, between lovers, between art and artifice, between surface and context, between reality and pretense?”

There will be one more film in the series. Look for future announcements.

[1 April 2009] The Online Bachelor of Arts in History program needs a logo to use in advertising the program. It should be relatively simple and easy to reproduce. Please submit your design (color or black and white) either on paper or electronically to Dr Stephen Stein at sstein@memphis.edu by 25 April 2009. The winning design will receive a reward of $50.

Dr Susan O'Donovan to join the faculty in Fall 2009 (or is it 2010?)

Book cover Another book cover [30 March 2009] Dr Susan O'Donovan, who is currently an associate professor of history and African and American studies at Harvard University, will join our faculty in Fall 2009 — except that she will not actually be in residence until Fall 2010. This is because she has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship from the Newberry Library for 2009-2010 and will spend a year in residence there doing research in the Library’s collections.

Dr O'Donovan has published widely, with most of her work centering on former slaves in the period of and immediately following emancipation. Her book Becoming Free in the Cotton South (Harvard University Press, 2007) won the 2008 James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. The prize is awarded annually for a book dealing with the history of race relations in the United States. With Steven Hahn, Steven F. Miller, John C. Rodrigue, and Leslie S. Rowland, she has edited Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, ser. 3, vol. 1: Land and Labor, 1865 (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), which examines the transition from slavery to free labor during the tumultuous first months after the Civil War. She is under contract for vol. 2 of that series, Land and Labor, 1866-1867, along with Anthony E. Kaye, Steven F. Miller, Leslie S. Rowland, and Stephen A. West.

A current project, “Slaves and the Politics of Disunion,” is to be a book-length study of slaves and the manner and extent to which they both monitored and manipulated the secession debate. She is also a lead participant in the British-based project, “After Slavery: Race, Labour, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas,” a collaborative-research initiative that brings together scholars from Ireland, Britain, and the United States in a multi-year project designed to advance understanding of black people’s experiences as citizens and workers in the decades following the Civil War and Reconstruction, examining the historical circumstances that gave rise to new and violent forms of racial subordination in that area.

Dr Sarah Potter appointed to OAH membership committee

[28 March 2009] Dr Sarah Potter, assistant professor, has been appointed to the membership committee of the Organization of American Historians. She is membership chair for the state of Tennessee.

The OAH is holding its 2009 annual meeting at Seattle, Washington, 26-28 March, with the theme “History Without Borders.”

Dr Dennis Laumann presents paper at research workshop

[27 March 2009] Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor, presented a paper on “Exile and Disease in German Togoland” at today’s session of the monthly Faculty Brown Bag Workshop. The paper examines the exile of an African chief by German colonial officials which Dr Laumann “discovered” while collecting oral history, including from the exiled chief’s granddaughter. Investigating the topic further in German archival records and secondary sources led to an emphasis on disease and medicine. Dr Laumann is planning to develop this piece into an article for journal submission.

Dr Doug Cupples publishes article on art education in Memphis

WTHS cover[27 March 2009] Dr Doug Cupples’ article “From Atelier to MFA (Then on to the Atelier): A Short History of Art Education in Memphis, Tennessee” is the lead article in The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 62 (2008). The paper is an overview of a larger work he is developing for one or more book-length manuscripts.

CallicottThe efforts to provide professional quality art training by dedicated and qualified teachers began in the 19th century and have continued to the present day. Several of the featured artists such as Florence M. McIntyre and Mary Solari broke gender barriers by seeking and gaining admission to the previously all-male academies. Others, such as Kate Carl and Carl Gutherz had prominent recognition in both Europe (including the Paris Salons) and America. They, and others, brought professional-quality instruction that eventually led to degree-granting institutions for both the BFA and MFA degrees in the city. Among the photographs included in the article is one of iconic Memphis artist Burton Callicott (1907-2003) in his studio. He is shown here in 1989 in front of his latest major painting that was then in progress.

Transcribed copies of the oral histories for this research are in the Mississippi Valley Collection at the McWherter Library.

Michael Lejman and Jack Lorenzini present papers at graduate conference in Virginia; Lejman wins award for outstanding paper

[24 March 2009] Michael Lejman and Jack Lorenzini, both teaching assistants, presented their research on 21 March 2009 at the 12th annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference at Virginia Tech University, in a session entitled “Reform, Reaction, and Redefinition in the Cold War Binary.” Mr Lorenzini presented “‘We Didn’t Reject the System, the System Rejected Us’: The SDS Failure to Obtain a Charter at Memphis State University, 1968-1970.” Mr Lejman won the Outstanding Paper award and seventy-five dollars for his paper “The Left Reacts: French Leftists and the 1989 Revolutions in Eastern Europe.”

Members of the Graduate Association for African-American History and Phi Alpha Theta help build houses for Habitat for Humanity

Habitat volunteers
Top l to r: Shirletta Kinchen and Amy Piccaretto
Bottom l to r: James Conway, Sheena Harris, and Ann Mulhearn


[23 March 2009] On Saturday, 21 March 2009, several students from the Graduate Association for African-American History and Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society in history, participated in the Habitat for Humanity’s 2009 Spring Build. According to its website, “Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.”

There are several houses under construction on Pershing Avenue in the Binghampton section of Memphis. Despite the rain, the students enjoyed their experience. GAAAH vice president James Conway commented, “Last year I voted for hope and change. Habitat’s home builders program gave me an opportunity to do my part in fulfilling that message. I look forward to continuing as a volunteer with this benevolent organization in the future.”

This was the first of what it is hoped will be many joint service projects that GAAAH and PAT will participate in together. PAT vice president Amy Piccaretto also shared her thoughts on the impact of working on the project: “Although the weather didn’t cooperate, it was very inspirational to see the number and range of people who came out to help out and the variety of homes being constructed. It was great to be a small part of such an important and worthwhile event.”

The group reported that the great thing about this project was that they had the chance to give back by working side-by-side with the homeowners to build their homes and everybody left the experience enpowered.

The volunteers were Meredith Baker, James Conway, Armanthia Duncan, Sheena Harris, Shirletta Kinchen, Rachel Mittleman, Ann Mulhearn, and Amy Piccaretto.

Since its founding in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International has built and rehabilitated more than 300,000 houses with partner families, helping house more than 1,500,000 people and becoming a world leader in addressing the issues of poverty housing. Its best-known supporters are former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter.

Myth/Conception Film Society screens “Dancing Mothers”

Movie poster[20 March 2009] In the second program in the series “A Woman’s Place” the Myth/Conception Film Society this afternoon screened the 1926 production of “Dancing Mothers.” Today, audiences are much more familiar with Clara Bow, the “It” girl. The film is actually more about Alice Joyce, who played her mother. Ms Joyce received the nickname of “the Madonna of the Screen” because she often, as here, played mothers who bore up nobly under trying circumstances. In this film, she plays a woman who left behind her career on the stage to become a wife and mother, only to be presented during the 1920s with an unfaithful husband and an unruly daughter.

There will be two more presentations by the Society (“Where History Meets Hollywood”) before the semester ends. Look for announcements later.

Dr Barbara Newman speaks on “Two Royal Sisters: Saint and Heresiarch” in Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture

[18 March 2009] Dr Barbara Newman, Professor of English, Religion, and Classics, and John Evans Professor of Latin at Northwestern University spoke this afternoon on “Two Royal Sisters: Saint and Heresiarch” as the Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecturer for 2008-2009.

Dr Newman lecturing
Dr Newman lecturing


The two royal sisters from a family of 13 children were daughters of Premysi Otakar I of Bohemia and his second wife Constance, the daughter of Bela III of Hungary. They were born into a family in which, Dr Newman said, the men were kings and the women were saints. A brother reigned as Wenceslas I and a nephew as Premysi Otakar II. A cousin was canonized in 1215 as St. Elisabeth of Hungary, one half-sister (Margarete) was venerated as a saint in Denmark under the name of Dagmar, and another (Hedwig) was a canoness in Prague. One of the royal sisters was early venerated as a saint but an attempt at canonizing in 1320 was defeated because of an unfriendly pope who was offended by the Franciscans and the Poor Clares with which she affiliated. Dr Newman remarked, “Sometimes it takes a while to become a saint.” Beatified in 1874, the daughter finally was canonized in 1989 under the name of St. Agnes of Prague. The other royal sister did not fare so well. Probably born as Blažena, she was later known as Guglielma of Milan. Regarded by her followers as the female incarnation of the Holy Spirit, she was declared a heretic in a trial held in 1300 after her death which resulted in the execution of two of her most prominent followers. Despite this fate, Guglielma’s fame spread later to the point that she became a beloved local saint of Brunate among persons who may not have been aware of her earlier reputation.

Agnes’ family tried to marry her into other royal families, including those of the Holy Roman Empire and England, but Agnes was determined to become a “bride of Christ” and thwarted all those plans. She became a Poor Clare and fitted the model of the saint very well. Wearing a hairshirt under her clothing, she was known for attending as many masses as she could possibly fit into a day, and she founded a hospital (in which she frequently attended to the needs of the patients), a friary, and a monastery. Ironically, although she repudiated royal pomp, Agnes was showered with royal and ecclesiastical support. A determined champion of Franciscan asceticism, she carried on a running quarrel with Pope Gregory IX, who attempted to bestow many endowments on her enterprises (Dr Newman said he did not like mendicants that he could not control), to the point that she eventually separated the hospital from the monastery. The Convent of St. Agnes, restored in the 1960s, is now a branch of the National Gallery in Prague.

It was quite different with Guglielma. Dr Newman said that while some doubt that she was of the Bohemian royal family (there is no birth record, for example, though she claimed she was born on Pentecost, the day of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the early church), she herself is quite sure of it. What is known of Guglielma is that she appeared in Milan around 1260. Some said that she was a daughter of a Bohemian royal family. Some said that she came from England, so it is possible that she rather than Agnes went there. She had a son, but whether the father was English or Italian is unknown. Gulielma, unlike Agnes, was determined not to be a nun. She never took vows, not even as a tertiary, although she did make a financial arrangement with the Cistercians which somewhat resembled a modern annunity. Unlike most women of her day, she did not have a spiritual director. Not much is known of her because much material was destroyed after her posthumous trial as a heretic, but she apparently had followers in all ranks of society. This inclusiveness may have led to feelings that she was a social leveller, although that charge was not made against her in the inquisition. Dr Newman believes that her acceptance of all persons may have had something to do with the later claims that she was like Jesus.

Joachim of Fiore had prophesied that the utopian “third age” of the world would begin around 1260, the time that Guglielma arrived. The two earlier “ages” of the world had been dominated in turn by God the Father (the pre-Christian era), and God the Son (the Christian era); the third age would be dominated by God the Holy Spirit. In this age, the Holy Spirit would reconcile the entire world — Jews, Saracens, pagans, everybody — to God. In the minds of people like Andrea Saramita and Maifreda da Pirovano, Guglielma was the promised female incarnation of the Holy Spirit who would bring this about. Ultimately there would be a female pope as her “earthly vicar” in this new dispensation, and Maifreda seemed destined to be that female pope. (Dr Newman remarked that 1262 was the year in which the Bishop of Milan prohibited the saying of the mass in Milan because of a tense political situation between himself and the people of the city, so there was probably a political dimension to the movement as well.)

Guglielma seems to have resisted such claims on her behalf. Some sources record her as denying categorically that she was the Holy Spirit, telling people, “Go away! I am not God.” But others say that she baptized followers in the name of the Father, the Son, and herself, and that she did not like to venerate the host in the mass because in a way she would be venerating herself, because she was consubstantial with Jesus. Dr Newman believes that Guglielma fell victim to claims of the wrong kind of people saying the wrong things. After her death in 1281, Saramita and Maifreda and others awaited her resurrection and return. As the result of a heresy inquisition in 1300 Saramita and Maifreda were burned as heretics, and Guglielma’s own bones were dug up and burned and the ashes distributed to the winds.

Dr Newman said that her interest in Guglielma started with reading an essay in Medieval Women in the 1980s, which led her to investigate the inquisitorial records of 1300. She became convinced that Guglielma was not a heretic. Part of her research was serendipitous. Making a trip to Italy, she and her husband discovered an item in a guidebook that in Brunate, overlooking Lake Como in Lombardy, there was a shrine to the local saint, Guglielma. Making a point to go immediately to Brunate, she found there a painting that she is convinced is related to the claims made by Guglielma’s followers. In the painting, a woman in royal robes is laying her left hand on the head of a kneeling woman, behind whom there is a kneeling man. The standing woman is wearing three rings, two on her right hand which is raised in blessing, and the third on the left hand which is apparently ordaining the kneeling woman. Dr Newman is convinced that the painting represented something quite unknown by the people of Brunate — the two rings represent the earlier two ages of the world, the third ring represents the third age, the kneeling woman is Maifreda, and the kneeling man is Saramita. Pious visitors to the shrine could even receive a 50-day indulgence for reciting the prayer of St. Guglielma, the only indulgence that Dr Newman is aware of that was issued in the name of a condemned heretic. Like Guglielma’s family in Prague, which probably never realized that the woman known as Guglielma of Milan was related to them, the people of Brunate had never made the connection between their saint and the heretic of 1300.

Dr Newman at the reception
Dr Newman at the reception


In response to a question from the audience, Dr Newman replied that in the early Syriac church and among Gnostics it was common to think of the Holy Spirit or Holy Wisdom as having a feminine nature. But so far as she knows the claims of Guglielma’s followers that she was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit were unique. She said that Guglielma’s movement was small, did not spread beyond Milan, and was probably thought of by most during her lifetime as being more silly than dangerous.

Dr Newman has written a very detailed account of Guglielma in “The Heretic Saint: Guglielma of Bohemia, Milan, and Brunate,” Church History 74 (2005): 1-38, which is also available online.

Dr Newman, one of the most important medieval historians of gender. is known for her work on medieval religious culture, allegorical poetry, and women’s spirituality. Her most recent book is Thomas of Cantimpré: The Collected Saints’ Lives. She is also the author of Frauenlob's Song of Songs: A Medieval German Poet and His Masterpiece (2007), God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages (2002) (on medieval feminine images of God, personifications of virtues, and the “daughters of God”), and From Virile Woman to WomanChrist: Studies in Medieval Religion and Literature (1995) (which has a chapter on Guglielma), as well as three works on Hildegard of Bingen: an edited volume, Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World (1998); an edition and translation of Hildegard’s collected songs, Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum (1988, rev. 1998); and Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine (1987).

Dr Newman has been a Fellow of the Medieval Academy, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities at Northwestern.

Graduate Association for African American History publishes first issue of its newsletter

GAAAH newsletter [17 March 2009] The Graduate Association for African American History has just published volume 1, issue 1 of its newsletter. Tammy Prater, teaching assistant, did the layout. The newsletter includes a letter from Sheena Harris, president; a list of current officers; a brief history of the organization; information about membership; news about current activities; and information about the annual Graduate Student Conference in African American History.

Palgrave Macmillan publishes Dr Steven Patterson’s book The Cult of Imperial Honor in British India

Patterson book [17 March 2009] While a doctoral student at The University of Memphis, Dr Steven Patterson wrote his dissertation “Tin Gods on Wheels: Gentlemanly Honor and the Imperial Ideal in India’ under the direction of Dr Abraham Kriegel. Since receiving his Ph.D. in 2003 he has become an assistant professor of history at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee. His revised dissertation has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan under the title The Cult of Imperial Honor in British India.

Palgrave Macmillan describes the book as follows:

What was imperial honor and how did it sustain the British Raj? If “No man may harm me with impunity” was an ancient theme of the European aristocracy, British imperialists of almost all classes in India possessed a similar vision of themselves as overlords belonging to an honorable race, so that ideals of honor condoned and sanctified their rituals, connecting them with status, power, and authority. Honor, most broadly, legitimated imperial rule, since imperialists ostensibly kept India safe from outside threats. Yet at the individual level, honor kept the “white herd” together, providing the protocols and etiquette for the imperialist, who had to conform to the strict notions of proper and improper behavior in a society that was always obsessed with maintaining its dominance over India and Indians. Examining imperial society through the prism of honor therefore opens up a new methodology for the study of British India.

Dr Doug Cupples chosen to participate in U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar

[17 March 2009] Dr Doug Cupples, instructor, has been invited by the Department of Defense to be a member of the Class of 2009 in the 55th annual U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in June. New member attendance is by invitation and this year’s class is limited to seventy-two. Dr Cupples is representing the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The purpose of the seminar is to prepare military officers from all service branches and other members throughout the defense community to “develop a deeper understanding of the society these leaders serve, and the interests, issues, and trends that influence the formulation of national security policy.” Five nationally prominent speakers will focus the discussions over five days and address, among other topics, “The War on Terror,” the “Role of Government,” and “America’s Energy Challenge.”

Jack Lorenzini publishes article on failure of SDS to receive a charter at Memphis State University, 1968-1970

[16 March 2009] Jack Lorenzini, teaching assistant, has an article in the 2008 issue of The West Tennessee Historical Papers, entitled “‘We Didn’t Reject the System, the System Rejected Us’: The SDS Failure to Obtain a Charter at Memphis State University, 1968-1970.” He describes how students attempted to get a charter as a recognized chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, only to have their bid rejected by the university.

Online History degree program featured on home page of the College of Arts and Sciences

Screen capture CAS [15 March 2009] Like the home page of The University of Memphis which features a rotating group of pictures and articles (see our article about Dr Andrei Znamenski), the home page of the College of Arts and Sciences features a rotating group of pictures and articles. It currently includes one about the Online Bachelor of Arts in History program which is directed by Dr Stephen Stein, assistant professor. It appears that there are at least two separate groups with five images and articles in each group. If you’re lucky, immediately after you arrive at the home page of the College of Arts and Sciences you will see an image like the one that appears at the right side of this paragraph. If you don’t see it immediately, refresh the page over and over and eventually it will appear. The link that is posted there leads to the page that describes the online program

Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes. In this case, the fame lasts for only fifteen seconds before the next image comes up but it will recur frequently. There is no way of knowing how long the college will continue to feature this image, so catch it while you can.

The image is taken from the painting “Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth” by Emanuel Leutze in 1854. Leutze is more famous for his classic 1850 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Another example of Leutze’s patriotic art is “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” (often called “Westward Ho!”), which he painted in a stairway of the Capitol in Washington in 1860, commissioned by Congress.

Dr Andrei Znamenski featured on home page of The University of Memphis

Screen capture [6 March 2009] The home page of The University of Memphis features a group of articles and photographs near its top which are randomly selected from a list of possibilities. One of them currently is about Dr Znamenski’s project Who Was Who in Russian Alaska. If you’re lucky, it will come up immediately when you visit the home page of The University of Memphis. Look for an image like the one that appears at the right side of this paragraph; if something else appears, refresh the page over and over and eventually it will appear. The link posted there leads to a press release that is virtually identical to the article that appeared in Update a few weeks ago and which we scanned and put in our History Happenings article for 11 February 2009.

There is no way of knowing how long the university will continue to feature this article, so catch it while you can.

ADDENDUM [20 March 2009]: For the time being at least, the photograph and the link feature President Shirley Raines and Coach John Calipari. Perhaps the rotating photographs will resume when “March Madness” is over.

2ND ADDENDUM [2 April 2009]: With The University of Memphis Tigers out of the running in “March Madness” and Coach Calipari having left for greener pastures (pun intended), the rotating photographs on the university’s home page have dropped the one of him and President Raines. The new rotation does not appear to contain the one about Dr Znamenski, so it is probably pointless to keep refreshing the home page in the hope that it will eventually show up.

Three graduate students make presentations at Phi Alpha Theta regional conference

[1 March 2009] Three graduate students from the Department of History participated in the Phi Alpha Theta regional conference held at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville on 28 February. In separate panels Tonya Parham, master's candidate, presented “William Walker: Putting the ‘Man’ in Manifest Destiny”; Amy Piccarreto, doctoral candidate, presented “British Perspectives of Jewish Refugees: From the Evian Conference to the Battle of Britain”; and Tammy Prater, doctoral candidate, presented “Self, Soul, and Support: English Women Writers on Religion and Women’s Education, 1670-1710.”

They reported that the conference was very enjoyable. Far less enjoyable was the snowstorm on Interstate 40, which turned what should have been a 3-1/2 hour trip into nearly 12 hours. Thanks to Amy’s expert driving, they arrived back home safely.

Daryl Carter appointed to tenure-track position at East Tennessee State University

[1 March 2009] Daryl Carter, doctoral candidate, defended his dissertation prospectus in August 2008 and returned to his alma mater, East Tennessee State University, with a tenure-track position as an assistant professor. While teaching he will be working on his dissertation, “William Jefferson Clinton and African Americans from 1992 to 2001.”

Dr Beverly Bond receives Professional Development Assignment for 2009-2010

[27 February 2009] Dr Beverly Bond, associate professor, has received from the College of Arts and Sciences a Professional Development Assignment for the upcoming academic year. While on the assignment she will be working at the Center for Southern Folklore in the collection of the Reverend L.O. Taylor.

The Rev. Mr Taylor was pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in the Springdale community of North Memphis from 1931 to 1956. During that time he made 16-mm movies, photographs, and audio discs of the lives, events, and sounds of the African American communities in Memphis in an era of segregation. He and his work were the subjects of the award-winning 1989 documentary by Lynne Sachs, Sermons and Sacred Pictures, and in 2006, his photographs were showcased at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art as part of the exhibit “Pictures from Home: Six African-American Studio Photographers in the South, 1900-1950.” The Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis has the state’s best collection of Mr Taylor’s work, approximately 30,000 feet of film, 100 hand-cut 78-rpm discs, 5,000 negatives, and 500 prints, acquired after his death in 1977.

Dr Andrei Znamenski presents paper at Faculty Brown Bag Workshop for February

[27 February 2009] At today’s meeting of the monthly Faculty Brown Bag Workshop Dr Andrei Znamenski, assistant professor, presented a paper on “Power of Myth: Popular Ethnonationalism And Nationality Building in Russian Altai, 1904-1922.” He also presented a book proposal related to the paper.

Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times features articles by several departmental members and alumnae

Tennessee Women [27 February 2009] The University of Georgia Press has just published Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, volume 1, edited by Dr Beverly Bond and Dr Sarah Wilkerson Freeman, associate professor of history, Arkansas State University. The book has eighteen essays on leading women from all three regions of the state and various aspects of the state’s history and culture.

The book bears the strong imprint of both current members of the faculty in the Department of History at The University of Memphis and alumnae of our doctoral program. In addition to co-editing the book, Dr Bond, assistant professor, contributed the article “Milly Swan Price: Freedom, Kinship, and Property” and collaborated with Dr Betty Sparks Huehls (Ph.D., 2002) in “Sue Shelton White: Lady Warrior.” Dr Aram Goudsouzian, assistant professor, wrote “Wilma Rudolph: Running for Freedom”; Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair, wrote “Phoebe Fairgrove Omlie: Wing Walker, Parachute Jumper, Air Racer”; and Dr Gail Murray (Ph.D., 1991, chair of the Department of History, Rhodes College) wrote “Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg: Feminist and Race Woman.”

Besides the articles mentioned above, there are essays on Nan-ye-hi (Nancy Ward), Fanny Wright, Mary Church Terrell, Alberta Hunter, Charl Ormond Williams, Lucille Thornburgh, Martha Ragland, Wilma Dykeman, Sarah Colley Cannon (Minnie Pearl), Diane Judith Nash, Jo Walker-Meador, Bettye Berger, and Doris Bradshaw.

Dr Doug Cupples has chapter in book on the Civil War and American journalism

Words at War[27 February 2009] Dr Doug Cupples, instructor, has a chapter in Words at War: The Civil War and American Journalism, which has just been published by Purdue University Press. The chapter is derived from a conference presentation, entitled “Virginia and Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation: The Emergence of an Opposition Party,” which he made at the Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War and Free Expression. The symposium has been held annually at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since 1993. It periodically publishes books that consist of papers selected from those presented at the annual meetings. Words at War is the third book in this series, which is entitled The Civil War and Popular Imagination; the two previous books are Memory and Myth: The Civil War in Fiction and Film from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Cold Mountain and Seeking a Voice: Images of Race and Gender in the 19th Century Press.

Dr Cupple’s paper was about local reaction in Virginia to the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833. In addition to this paper, he has presented two earlier papers at this symposium.

James Conway quoted in Commercial Appeal article on “Black Mondays”

[22 February 2009] James Conway, teaching assistant, who is writing his dissertation on the civil rights movement in Memphis, was cited and quoted in an article that appeared today in the Commercial Appeal. “Black Mondays” were boycotts of the Memphis City School system in 1969 that led to the appointment of the first black members of the board.

There will be a panel discussion of “Black Mondays” at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on 28 February.

Department hosts West Tennessee History Day

[21 February 2009] Faculty, students, and staff of the Department of History, aided by many volunteers from other colleges, universities, and schools, today judged the regional competition of young students from West Tennessee in Tennessee History Day. The venue, AutoZone Park, was made available by the Memphis Redbirds baseball organization. Winners from this competition will advance to the state competition, to be held 4 April 2009 in Nashville under the auspices of the Tennessee Historical Society.

Dr Margaret Caffrey, associate professor, is the Coordinator for West Tennessee Day and she has been assisted by Angela Martin, teaching assistant.

Since the 1980s the department has always hosted both the regional and the state competitions, because in the early days there were few entrants from other regions of the state. In the 1990s, particularly under the leadership of Dr Janann Sherman as the State Coordinator, a base of support for the program was built up all over the state of Tennessee. Now there are four very active regional competitions feeding into the state competition, and the responsibility for conducting the state competition was handed over this year to the Tennessee Historical Society.

Thomas Boggs (B.A., history, 1972) receives posthumously one of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Awards

[20 February 2009] The University of Memphis Alumni Association met this evening at Central Station in downtown Memphis with the theme “Take the M Train.” A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Awards. One of the awards was to Thomas Boggs (B.A. in history, 1972). The award was made posthumously; Mr Boggs died 5 May 2008 at the age of 63.

Mr Boggs was born in Wynne, Arkansas. He played drums with regional bands and was recruited to play with the popular ’60s band the Box Tops. Later he returned to The University of Memphis to finish his degree in history. After working for T.G.I. Friday’s, he joined Huey’s, moving from bartending into management. Mr Boggs used his considerable corporate experience to transform Huey’s from a bar into a successful restaurant operation.

He was active in the community, serving as vice president of the 2001 Memphis in May International Festival and co-chair of the Blues Ball. He served on many boards promoting tourism and the hospitality industry, including eight years as president of the Memphis Restaurant Association. He received the association’s highest award, the Newt Hardin Award, as well as its Civic and Community Leadership Award.He also received the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service in recognition of outstanding community and public service.

The University of Memphis’ College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Chapter honored Mr Boggs with its Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2002. Mr Boggs also established the Huey’s Corporation Scholarship at the U of M in 2004 and donated food and staffing to the Alumni Association’s Homecoming celebration.

In 2005 Mr Boggs was the featured alumnus in the Department of History’s newsletter. In his interview he gave credit to the late Dr Marcus W. Orr for changing his life after his poor start in college. He credited his study of history, particularly through classes with Dr Orr, for shaping his perspective on the world.

Dr Janann Sherman leads discussion at Teaching Tactics Brown Bag

[20 February 2009] Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the department, led the discussion at today’s Teaching Tactics Brown Bag lunch. The discussion centered on three recent articles: “Wake Up and Smell the New Epistemology,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education; “It’s Culture, Not Morality,” in Inside Higher Education ; and “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes,” in the New York Times.

Myth/Conception Film Society views Lois Weber’s “Where Are My Children?”

Lois Weber[20 February 2009] Lois Weber was Hollywood’s first major woman director (“The Merchant of Venice” in 1914, in which she cast herself as Portia, was her first full-length film) and the only woman of her generation to be a member of the Motion Picture Directors Association. “Where Are My Children?” mounts an attack on abortion but counters with an endorsement of contraceptive methods which often faced attack from the legal system at the time the film was made. This 1916 silent classic is significant for its attitudes toward the social role of women and sexuality, as well as its characteristic Progressive Era outlook on social reform — a film that is fascinating on many levels, not least of which is the biography of the woman who made it.

The Myth/Conception Film Society of the Department of History, like the phoenix, has risen from the ashes after several semesters of dormancy. The society will present three more films in the future, all of them on the theme “A Woman’s Place,” exploring the role of women in society and cinema in the early 20th century.

Drs Kent Schull and Dennis Laumann to lead Study Abroad programs in Turkey and Ghana

[18 February 2009] Two members of the Department of History will lead Study Abroad programs during the summer of 2009. Dr Kent Schull, assistant professor, will lead the program in Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey from 17 May to 6 June, and Dr Dennis Laumann, associate professor, will lead the program in Ghanaian History and Culture in Ghana from 13 July to 5 August.

Information sessions will be held for the program in Turkey 12:30 - 1 pm on 25 February in 219 Brister and for the program in Ghana 3 - 4 pm on 26 February in 220 Brister.

For full information, visit the Web sites for Anatolian Civilizations and Ghanaian History and Culture or e-mail Chrystal Goudsouzian, Study Abroad Advisor (c.goudsouzian@memphis.edu).

Emily Yellin speaks on American women in World War II in Belle McWilliams Lecture Series

[18 February 2009] Emily Yellin spoke this afternoon on the topic “Beyond Rosie the Riveter: American Women in World War II” as the Belle McWilliams Lecturer for 2008-2009. The lecture was based on her 2004 book Our Mothers’ War, which was sparked by finding a journal and letters her mother had written home during the war years 1941-1945. Ms Yellin embarked on a broad investigation of how the women of her mother’s generation responded to this time when their country asked them to step into roles they had never been invited, or allowed, to fill before.

Yellin reading
Ms Yellin lecturing


Ms Yellin has written for the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune and other publications. In 2004, she contributed the chapter about women to the WWII Memorial commemorative book, The World War II Memorial: A Grateful Nation Remembers. She regards herself as a journalist, saying that journalists write the first drafts of history. She felt Our Mothers’ War got her into the field of history and was pleased when the New York Times review of it began with the sentence “STOP the presses: the greatest generation had women in it.”

Her mother, Carol, was 21 when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. She had graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in history and soon moved to New York to work for Readers Digest. When she became eligible, she joined the Red Cross in early 1945. Many thought that women joined the Red Cross only to meet men, because although they had to be at least 25 years old and have a college degree, their chief role was to serve coffee and doughnuts to servicemen. But Carol was already married and was serious in believing that women could be pioneers and heroes in their own right. (Carol had married Thomas Heggen shortly after the war began for America. Heggen spent most of the war years in the U. S. Navy. He wrote the novel Mister Roberts in 1946 and dedicated it to Carol. The couple divorced in 1946 and Carol later married David Yellin, Emily’s father.)

Before she joined the Red Cross, Carol played one of the most common roles of women during that period — that of “the wife left behind,” who had to “buck up, meet the challenges, and surprise everyone, including themselves” as to what they could accomplish. These women had to make all sorts of difficult decisions all on their own and had to learn how to wait — and wait, and wait. Ms Yellin remarked that a popular song of the time, “Accentuate the Positive,” was the armor that women used to get through it all.

There were many who filled the stereotypical role of Rosie the Riveter, the woman who worked in the factories at a time when there was no OSHA and no systematic daycare facilities for children (typically, the women’s mothers took care of the children). Ms Yellin remarked that the icon of Rosie the Riveter is one-dimensional — although dressed in overalls, her hair is in place, her nails are polished, and her mascara is perfect. For the first time in American history, during the war years married women outnumbered single women in the labor force.

Yellin at reception
Ms Yellin at the reception


Other women joined the armed services. War had always been regarded as “man’s work” and women during the war years were always regarded as auxiliaries (WAACs enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps). Women who served in the naval auxiliaries (WAVES, SPARS, and Women Marines) were not allowed to serve on ships. WASPs (Women's Airforce Service Pilots) could fly airplanes only in U. S. airspace, never in war zones. Ms Yellin noted that while many men were drafted, every woman who served was a volunteer. Black women who enlisted in the armed services were subjected to an additional layer of segregation. White men did not like to serve with white women, and white women did not like to serve with black women.

The list of occupations filled by women during the wartime years was lengthy. Ms Yellin read off a list of occupations which even now tend to be associated with men and noted that women filled those roles during those years. Although most women seemed to be rather glad to return to the household at the war’s end, the “genie was out of the bottle,” as Ms Yellin put it. Never again could it be said that women couldn’t do certain things, because they had. Although it might have been an “inadvertent revolution,” the wartime experience was laying the basis for the later drive for women’s rights.

Toward the end of her lecture Ms Yellin told how her mother had conducted a long struggle with the public library to have her library card issued in the name of Carol Yellin rather than Mrs. David Yellin. She closed by telling of a tape recording of an address to a church group that her mother had made in 1971. “All of our history has been written by men, for men and about men,” her mother told the group. But she also told them that while she was carpooling children to the Campus School, she heard the girls referring to each other as a “daughter of a first aid kit.” Thinking this was very odd, she asked them why they were doing it. Their explanation was that the boys always called each other a “son of a gun.” Noting that this reinforced the concept that women were always auxiliary to men, since men carried guns in war while women carried first aid kits, she expressed the hope that the day would come when a “daughter of a first aid kit” would be just as valuable as a “son of a gun.”

As a personal note in her lecture, Ms Yellin noted that she has strong ties to the university. She spent her elementary-school years at the Campus School and later taught in the Journalism Department. Her father, David, founded what was then the Broadcast and Film Department and taught until he was 80. Her mother was the co-author with Dr Janann Sherman, professor and chair of the Department of History, of The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage, the story of Tennessee’s ratification of the Voting Rights Amendment of 1919.

Le’Trice Donaldson presents paper in symposium at the University of Toronto

[11 February 2009] Le’Trice Donaldson, teaching assistant, presented a paper at the 5th Annual Graduate History Symposium at the University of Toronto on 7 February. In a session on the theme Soldiers and Scholars, her topic was “A Battle for Honor: Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper’s Fight for Redemption.” Lieutenant Flipper, born in slavery, was the first black cadet to graduate from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point (in 1877). He was court-martialed in 1880 on charges that he had embezzled post commissary funds. Although acquitted of the charges, he was dismissed from the service for conduct unbecoming an officer. He spent the rest of his life contesting the charges and trying to regain his commission.

Dr Andrei Znamenski featured in recent Update article

[11 February 2009] [Webmaster’s note: The following article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Update. Because I have not been able to find any version of Update online to which to link, I have scanned the article for inclusion here.]

Exploring who was who in Russian Alaska


With all the recent attention on Alaska, it's no surprise that Dr. Andrei Znamenski is writing biographies of the state's major players. But he's not covering Gov. Sarah Palin or World Series pitcher Curt Schilling; he's going further back.

Biographer Andrei Znamenski (Lissau photo)


Znamenski is covering individuals like Kotlean, a chief of the large Native American tribe Tlingit. When Alaska's capital was the small town of Sitka and still a colony of the Russian Empire, Kotlean wreaked havoc on “Russian America.” By the early 1800s, Russians feared Kotlean once they realized they weren’t going to be able to control him. He was one of the reasons Russians eventually sold Alaska to America.

It is colorful people like Kotlean that Znamenski and co-investigator Dr. Andrei Grinëv, professor of history at St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions in Russia, are capturing in their biographical dictionary, Who was Who in Russian America: A Comprehensive Biographical Dictionary, 1741-1867. They hope the dictionary will become the most comprehensive biographical reference edition on Alaskan people during the Russian period.

An assistant professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences, Znamenski received a $7,000 grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to support his research. The 700-page book will highlight Russian, Native American, American, German and Finnish men and women who contributed to the history of Alaska. The time period covered is when the Last Frontier was still a territory of the Russian Empire from the 1750s until 1867 when it was sold to the United States.

“The purpose of the project is to highlight the lives of not only the prominent people, like explorers, officers, captains, but also common folk: interpreters, scouts, some Native American elders, some women interpreters who were somewhat behind the scenes,” he said.

Another purpose is to correct misinformation on who was in Alaska during this time.

“The biggest misconception is since Alaska belonged to Russia, Russians were there. Russians were only a small percent, maybe 20 percent of all people who came there. Eighty percent of the Russian population were serfs, almost like slaves. They were enslaved peasants. They could not move around. So that's the reason why there were no people coming from Russia proper. That is why we use the word Russian as applied to Russian-American with quotation marks. It's not exactly true.”

Many settlers were Finnish people and Baltic Germans from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. “Finland was one of the major places. Half of the newcomers came from Finland,” he said.

That is why Znamenski will use part of the funding to go to Helsinki to dig in archives and research Finnish navigators, scouts and sailors for inclusion. An estimated 3,000 people is the goal to be profiled in the biographical dictionary.

Tlingit Chief Kotlean is profiled in Znamenski’s book


The settlers represented only a handful of inhabitants of Russian America.

“There were no more than 800 settlers,” said Znamenski. “It’s a meager number. That’s nothing. So, they had to rely on American Indians, Inuit people or on mixed-blood people called Creoles. It was multicultural, a multi-ethnic enterprise. That's what it was.”

The biographical dictionary will reflect this multiethnicity, including the first chief administrator of Russian America, Alexander Baranov, and his Tlingit wife. Previous biographers referenced him, but none mention his wife.

Another person profiled is Alexander Kashevarov, the son of a Russian settler and a native woman. He was sent to Russia to study at a naval college and became a navy officer and eventually a commander, which was very unusual.

The book will also cover Anuita of Sitka, a Tlingit woman who acted as a cultural broker between the local Tlingit and newcomers in the 1790s. She tried to prevent bloodshed between the two groups on many occasions and previous biographers have not focused on her.

To be published by the University of Alaska Press, the biographical dictionary will be simultaneously available in Russian and English.

“That’s how I specified it in my proposal. The Alaska Humanities Forum wants that done to reach out beyond modern America,” said Znamenski.

The book is already half written and will be completed by January 2010. The print run will be approximately 1,000, but the main goal is to put it online 10 months after completion. One reason for an online version is the book's main audience — descendants.

“It will be online because one of the purposes is to give a chance to descendants of those people to trace their genealogy. That was one of the reasons we started doing it. It will be a good genealogy source.”

Another audience is historians and writers who tend to make mistakes in spelling and years of life, which creates discrepancies in historical works. Besides an American audience, the book will also be marketed internationally to Finland and Russia, where there is strong interest in the history of Alaska.

The biographical entries will include birthplaces, life spans, background, contributions and different versions of individuals’ names.

The project is a way of coming full circle for Znamenski, who started this research while a graduate student. His co-investigator, Grinëv, was also working on the history of Russian America. They noted both had accumulated information on personalities absent from reference books covering Alaska during this time period. Grinëv came up with the idea and the two decided to combine their research.

“This project is like going back to the roots of my original research in graduate school in Toledo and my first books I published,” said Znamenski. “Everything started in 1993 when I picked up this topic that was not covered by anybody. My co-investigator and I are trying to finish what we didn’t finish earlier. It’s like a step back to finalize the research we started because we feel that it needs to be completed by sampling these biographies.“

Phi Alpha Theta, Epsilon Nu chapter, re-launches Web site

[9 February 2009] The Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary for history, has re-launched a Web site after a hiatus of several years. Jack Lorenzini is the Webmaster for the site

Palgrave Macmillan to publish Dr D’Ann Penner’s book on Hurricane Katrina in March

[4 February 2009] Dr D’Ann Penner, former departmental member and former director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, wrote Overcoming Katrina: African American Voices from the Crescent City and Beyond with Keith C. Ferdinand, founder of Heartbeats Life Center, a cardiology clinic and human rights organization based in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward. Palgrave Macmillan will publish the book on 3 March 2009. The book tells the stories of New Orleanians who fought to survive Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, while exploring a wide cross-section of the African American experience. Collected here are testimonies from nurses, businessmen, community organizers, and others who lived, loved, worked, and celebrated life in a great American city before being scattered across the country.

Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States, contributed the book’s foreword, in which he says, “The narrators of Overcoming Katrina allow us to understand the richness of pre-Katrina community life and the non-material sources of trauma. Stories of survivors of Hurricane Katrina go beyond the mere retelling of the horrors of their tragedy and its impact on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast . . . These stories provide an opportunity for Americans to reflect on how we want to be viewed internationally for our treatment of the most vulnerable in our midst.”

Dr Penner is currently the Social Justice Fellow at the Office of the Appellate Defender, a not-for-profit organization that has been providing high-quality appellate and post-conviction representation to indigent persons since 1988.

Freedom Rider Benjamin Cox speaks at Phi Alpha Theta initiation

[31 January 2009] The Reverend Benjamin Cox Sr., one of the Freedom Riders of 1961, was the featured speaker this afternoon when Phi Alpha Theta initiated its new members. The meeting, held at the Alumni Center, began with home-cooked food made by chapter members.

Secretary Laura Perry introduced the Reverend Mr Cox, who was one of the original thirteen riders recruited by James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1961. He told how the Freedom Riders made their bus tour through the southeastern states to test the implementation of a desegregated transportation system in light of rulings by the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Supreme Court case Boynton v. Virginia. Mr Cox gave vivid descriptions of the receptions given the riders, including the burning of the Greyhound bus on Mother’s Day in Anniston, Alabama. He recently spoke in Washington on Martin Luther King Day and attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

President Le’Trice Donaldson and Vice President Amy Piccarreto conducted the initiation of new members, who included Tim Ammon, Jenny Demilio, Scott Hadley Jr., Jeff Harris, Sheila Jacobson, Grant Matthews, Courtney McGinnis, Robert Pomerenk, Jake Steele, and Katie Stringer. The chapter’s faculty advisor, Dr Suzanne Onstine, made the concluding remarks.

Rev. Cox Officers Initiates

Dr Trygve Has-Ellison selected as visiting fellow with German seminar

[15 January 2009] Dr Tryge Has-Ellison has been selected to be a visiting fellow with the Graduate Seminar “Freund, Gönner, Getreue” under the direction of Dr Ronald Asch at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. He will be a fellow with the Historical Institute from May through July of this year.

Dr Has-Ellison received his Ph.D. in history from The Unversity of Memphis in 2004, writing his dissertation “True Art is Always an Aristocratic Matter: Nobles and the Fine Arts in Bavaria, 1890-1914” under the direction of Dr Daniel Unowsky. He is a Lecturer in European History at the University of Texas-Dallas.