Dr. Jeffrey Lesser, Department Chair and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History, was named director of the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning last week by Philip Wainwright, Emory’s Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Initiatives. The three-year appointment commences September 1, 2017. Lesser will continue as History Department Chair through 2018 while working to expand existing and build new strategies for the Halle Institute on Emory’s Campus and beyond. A historian of modern Brazil, Lesser brings a deep background of academic and administrative experience in global studies to the position. A press release from the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives further outlines Lesser’s role and the direction of the organization:
“As director, Lesser will promote Emory’s global identity by maximizing the Halle Institute’s impact as a global center for research, scholarship, and education. A great deal of Emory University’s research and teaching takes place outside of the United States. The Halle Institute supports Emory’s strategic global priorities by facilitating the exchange of people and ideas between Emory and institutions around the world. It partners with schools and centers at Emory to cultivate global perspectives and international understanding on campus and beyond.”
Professor Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies, was recently quoted in an article in The Boston Globe titled “Trump’s blind spot on black history worries scholars.” The May 3 article (by Astead W. Herndon) examined the reactions of numerous leading historians, including Dr. Anderson, to the U.S. president’s comments about American and especially black history. “From the first moments of the Trump administration, historians said in interviews, they were baffled along with other Americans by factual inaccuracies flowing from the White House. But in the months that followed, and especially this week, scholars said their initial surprise has turned to deep dismay over Trump’s seemingly ill-informed views of US history, especially as it relates to racial minorities.” Read Dr. Anderson’s contribution to the article below and check out the full piece here.
“‘There seems to be this kind of disdain for the reality of African-American history,’ said Carol Anderson, a professor at Emory University who specializes in black studies.
“‘When you don’t care enough about something to learn about it, yet you open up your mouth to speak about it — that’s contempt,’ Anderson said.”
Dr. James L. Roark, Samuel Candler Dobbs Emeritus Professor of History, contributed to the May 1, 2017 New York Times article, “AP Explains: Could the Civil War Have Been ‘Worked Out?'” Roark is a specialist on southern and nineteenth-century american history and provided commentary in response to President Donald Trump’s conjecture that Andrew Jackson “never would have let [the Civil War] happen.” Read Professor Roark’s analysis below and check out the full Associated Press piece here.
“COULD IT HAVE BEEN AVOIDED?
“Probably not, according to James Roark, an author and retired history professor at Emory University in Atlanta.
“‘As it got tangled with American politics and regional interests, nobody could figure out a way to save both the Union and preserve slavery in the South,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t for a lack of talking. There was plenty of talking.'”
Assistant Professor of History Daniel LaChance published Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United States with the University of Chicago Press last year. LaChance’s book examines the role of the death penalty in American culture over a span of fifty years. The Emory News Center’s April Hunt recently published a feature about LaChance’s work, “‘Executing Freedom’ examines the evolving role of the death penalty.” Read an excerpt from the article below and check out the full piece here.
“I’ve long been interested in the place of punishment in our society,” says LaChance, who got his first glimpse of the criminal justice system by watching his father defend accused murderers in courtrooms in a state without the death penalty.
“Criminal trials, sentencing hearings and execution ceremonies are spectacles,” LaChance adds. “They are more than an outraged community’s response to crime. They are occasions where we reveal our deeply held beliefs about the relationship between the individual and the state.”
The Emory News Center recently published a profile on the spring 2017 course “History of Now,” taught by Drs. Astrid M. Eckert and Matthew Payne. The co-taught class is structured around the examination of contemporary events — ranging from Russian presidential politics to Brexit — in historical context. Pitched an introductory level, the course has drawn an array of students across disciplines and year from Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences. Read the full Emory News Center article (“‘History of Now’ helps students understand roots of current conflicts”) and check out the course description below.
The course covers European history from the devastation of World War II to Europe’s current predicaments, such as the Ukrainian crisis, the Brexit decision, and refugee movements. Team-taught by specialists on German and Russian history, the course takes an expansive view of what constitutes Europe and considers select topics in European postwar history such as postwar affluence, détente, war memories, environmental challenges, and others, from western, central and eastern European perspectives. It traces how experiences of the war years rippled through postwar Europe, merged with Cold War exigencies, and reverberated in new ways after the fall of Communism. The course offers students not only an overview of postwar European history but also introduces them to ways of analysing current events in regard to their deep roots in the continent’s past.
Congratulations to Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies and a member of the History Department graduate faculty, for winning the Criticism Award from the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC). The NBCC awarded Anderson’s White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury, 2016). Read more about the prize, including the other winning books from this year, here.
PhD alumnus (’11) Adam T. Rosenbaum published an article in the March edition of Perspectives on History, the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association. The publication, “Leading by Example: The Senior Thesis and the Teacher-Scholar,” charts Rosenbaum’s novel approach to teaching a seminar in which undergraduates write a capstone thesis. Rosenbaum was recently tenured at Colorado Mesa University and his book, Bavarian Tourism and the Modern World, 1800–1950, was published by Cambridge UP in 2016. Check out an excerpt below and read the full piece in Perspectives here.
“As I prepared to teach the course a second time, I decided to make some changes. I rewrote the syllabus with a narrower focus on the history of the Third Reich, abandoning the topical flexibility of the first incarnation. I created a five-page bibliography of English-language sources related to that subject, providing students with a significant head start. Then I had another idea: I would write a thesis paper alongside my students, completing all the assignments along the way.”