Journalist Howell Raines published a review of Jospeh Crespino’s newest book, Atticus Finch: The Biography—Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon (Basic Books, 2018). Crespino, who is the Jimmy Carter Professor of History, specializes in twentieth-century U.S. history and the history of the South since Reconstruction. Read Raines’ review, “Harper Lee and Her Father, the Real Atticus Finch,” here.
Second-year graduate students Alexander Cors and Shari Wejsa are the two 2017-18 HASTAC Scholars at Emory’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Cors and Wejsa recently published entries on the blog of HASTAC, which stands for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory. Check out links to their recent posts and read their HASTAC biographies below.
- Alexander Cors, “Empty Spaces?: Indigenous Peoples and Euro-American Maps of the Colonial Southwest“
- Alexander Cors, “When Historians go to a Geographer’s Conference…“
- Shari Wejsa, “Defining Public Accessibility for Digital Projects“
My research interests broadly encompass transatlantic history in the early modern period, from 1450 to 1850. Geographically, my focus is on Latin America and Europe. I am particularly interested in colonial Louisiana, the circum-Caribbean, and Bourbon Spain.
My current project investigates migration and settlement patterns, immigration policies, and discourses on foreigners in eighteenth-century Louisiana. I am particularly concerned with questions of ethnicity, integration, and identity in the early modern transatlantic empires of France and Spain. I am also interested in Digital Humanities, especially the use of GIS technology to create ethnolinguistic maps of the eighteenth-century Mississippi Valley.
As a PhD student in Latin American history, I study the experiences of Angolan and Mozambican immigrants and refugees in Brazil in the postcolonial period. I examine how their migratory experiences have shaped their identities as they adapted to Brazil while remaining connected to their countries of origin. I also explore how international human rights law and evolving immigration policies have affected the lives of these migrants. My research interests are an extension of my Fulbright Commission-sponsored work on Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which investigated the human rights violations committed during Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985), and the inequities of educational access for Afro-Brazilian girls and women in Bahia. As an educator, I seek to cultivate critical thinking on issues of human rights and social justice while advocating for active engagement as transformative power.
Jimmy Carter Professor of History Joseph Crespino discussed his new book, Atticus Finch: The Biography, on May 3 at a Rosemary Magee Creativity Conversation in Emory’s Woodruff Library. The book will be released on May 8. The Rosemary Magee Creativity Conversations series draws attention to creativity and imagination across disciplines. Read more about the event here.
Associate Professor of History Eric L. Goldstein and Deborah R. Weiner co-authored On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore. The work has been published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Goldstein is a specialist in American Jewish history and culture, modern Jewish history, and American social and cultural history. Read more about the publication here.
Over the last two weeks eight undergraduate honors students presented proposals for their honors theses to faculty, staff, and fellow students in the History Department. Each student has a faculty advisor for the project, and all are enrolled in the Honors Seminar HIST 495A, led by Dr. Matthew J. Payne and Dr. Judith Miller. Above are pictures of the students in action, and below is the full list of student projects.
- Tyler Breeden (Payne, Director): “Intervention by Force or Food: Origins of American Soft Power”
- Beatrix Conti (Schainker, Director): “The Sassoon Family: Jewish Engagement with British Imperialism and the Opium Trade”
- Christina Morgan (Payne, Director): “U.S. Government’s Fear of and Attack on Communist Civil Rights Leaders in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee”
- Jarett Rovner (Crespino, Director): “Creating Bucks County: Surburbanization and Political Development in the Greater Philadelphia Area, 1950-1985”
- Ryan Schacklette (Allitt, Director): “Finding Place: Asian-Americans’ Struggle for Whiteness in the Twentieth Century American South”
- Will Schoderbek (Crespino, Director): “Turning the Tide in ’65: William F. Buckley, New York and the Resurgence of American Conservatism”
- Luke White (Evans-Grubbs, Director): “Romanization, Hybrid Societies, and Performances of Identity in Roman Gaul and Britain”
- Irene Zhang (Payne, Director): “A Tale of Land and Plutonium: Sino-Soviet Relations, 1953-1969”
Congratulations to graduate student Kyungtaek Kwon for winning the best graduate paper award from the Southern Conference on Slavic Studies. Kwon’s paper is titled, “The Boundary of Komsomol’tsy between Heroes and Vydvizhentsy in the Soviet Far Eastern City Komsomol’sk-na-Amure in the 1930s.” Associate Professor of History Matthew J. Payne is Kwon’s advisor.
Ellie R. Schainker, Arthur Blank Family Foundation Assistant Professor of Modern European Jewish History, published Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906 with Stanford University Press in 2016. The book won the 2017 National Jewish Book Award for Writing Based on Archival Material (JDC-Herbert Katzki Award). Below, she offers a glimpse into the making of the monograph as a part of the History Department’s series on recent faculty publications.
Books are produced over years if not decades. Give us a sense for the lifespan of this book, from initial idea to final edits.
Confessions of the Shtetl was born during my course work in grad school from the footnotes of two articles I stumbled across. I was part of a second-wave of scholars trained in the post-1991 era when former Soviet archives were newly open to western researchers. I was interested in Russian Jewish history and these articles indicated that there were treasure troves of archival material—should researchers ever gain access–documenting conversions from Judaism in the imperial Russian borderlands, or the famed “shtetls” (Yiddish, small towns) of Eastern Europe that had been idealized by nostalgic modernists and post-Holocaust mourners as the last outpost of authentic Jewish culture and solidarity in the modern period. These footnotes suggested that there was a larger untold story of interfaith encounter and border-crossing in the demographic heartland of European Jewry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I hoped that these stories might help us reconceptualize the religious and ethnic diversity of the empire’s western borderlands, the fluidity and permeability of boundaries between Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, and the relationship between ethno-religious groups and the state which tolerated and even sponsored religious diversity.
What was the research process like?
It was long and exciting. It took me to Russia, Ukraine, Israel, and New York City during my dissertation years and my early assistant professor years at Emory. Two aspects of the research stand out: 1) I thought I was fluent in Russian till I had to decipher hand-written nineteenth-century Cyrillic in the archives, and I briefly considered switching careers. 2) I came to appreciate the Russian archival system which has researchers sign a slip of paper in each archival folio listing every person who ever ordered and read that file. It looped me into a group of scholars whose footsteps I was following in and whose interests I shared. It became a kind of game for me in the archives to see if I could discover new files and be the first to sign my name, and it made me feel as part of a virtual research cohort during the sometimes long, lonely days in the archives.
Do you have a favorite chapter or section?
My favorite section is Part II, which I consider the heart of the book. This section features many microhistories of converts, their Christian neighbors and romantic partners, and their often irate family and community members. I love it because it brings to life the human drama of faith and apostasy, and gets at the pathos of historical phenomena that often get overlooked in social-scientific analyses of minority integration and assimilation.
How does this project align with your broad research agenda?
This project is a first step in studying toleration, imperialist critiques of native religion, and how these and other modern developments have allowed people to articulate and experience faith in new ways.