Daniel Thomas (20C), History Major and Fox Center Honors Fellow, Writes About Separatism in Eastern Ukraine

Daniel Thomas, a senior double major in history and international studies, recently wrote a piece about his research on separatism in Eastern Ukraine for the blog of the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory. Thomas is a 2019-’20 Fox Center Humanities Honors Fellow, completing his honors thesis with a regional focus on the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. The thesis draws on archival research and interviews that Thomas conducted in Kyiv in 2019. Associate Professor Matthew Payne is Thomas’ adviser. Read an excerpt from the post on the Fox Center’s blog below along with the full piece: “Neighbors against Neighbors: A historical study of separatist groups and rhetoric in Eastern Ukraine.”

The Fox Center’s generous grant has afforded me both the privilege of working in a tightly-knit epistemic community and the ability to conduct further research into my topic. The lump sum that I received as a part of my fellowship helped fund my interview-collecting over the Winter Break in Kyiv. Hearing the lived experiences of the Donbas’ denizens contributed a great deal to this project. I spoke with refugees and former separatist affiliates who dealt first-hand with the destructive repercussions of Donbasian separatism. Their accounts and lives illustrated that identity is more of a practice in subjectivity than it is an objective truth. Although my interviewees admitted that the separatist cause was rooted in a real problem (the callousness many politicians, both in Eastern and Western Ukraine, had towards the poor), they also admit that the separatists’ cause did little to ameliorate the Donbas’ desperate situation. Instead, it amplified it, displacing millions upon millions of Donbasians from their homeland. Without their insight, this thesis would have been at best a clueless meditation on a “forgotten” conflict…

Emory History Department Updates in the Context of COVID-19

Emory University will extend spring break until March 22, after which the institution will transition to remote learning for graduate and undergraduate classes. Visit Emory’s COVID-19 page for details about these changes, and please contact History Department faculty and staff via email with individual questions or concerns. History Department staff and faculty will work remotely for the next several weeks.

All History Department seminars, workshops, and book events have been canceled for the remainder of the semester, including the History Department Workshop scheduled for this Friday, March 20, featuring Dr. Thomas D. Rogers and Dr. Jeffrey T. Manuel, and the celebration of Dr. Sharon Strocchia’s recently-published monograph, Forgotten Healers: Women and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy, slated for next week. In lieu of the in-person events featuring these works, check out two recent posts about them:

History Major Emily Sharp To Present Honors Thesis at Hopkins’ Inaugural Undergraduate Research Symposium

Undergraduate student Emily Sharp, who is a double major in history and English, will present her history honors thesis at the inaugural Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University in April. Her thesis is titled, “Roy Cohn’s America: Conservatism, Sexual Politics, and Memory in 21st Century America.”

Dr. Judith A. Miller and Student Natalia Thomas Describe “Fake News” Course on GPB’s ‘On Second Thought’

Dr. Judith A. Miller and first-year student Natalia Thomas were recently interviewed on the Georgia Public Broadcasting show On Second Thought about Miller’s first-year seminar “Fake News.” Speaking to host Virginia Prescott, Miller describes how, as a historian of 18th and 19th century France, she ended up teaching a course with a substantial focus on contemporary U.S. history. Thomas, a first-year student in the course, describes the impact “Fake News” has already had on students: “‘I used to just take what I read at face value,” she explained. “I’ve learned to be more cautious about what I’m consuming, and make sure to check multiple news sources and see what they’re saying about certain issues.”‘ Read the article summary of the conversation and listen to the full interview: “Emory University’s ‘Fake News’ Course Helps Students Tease Fact From Fiction.”

Judith A. Miller and Students Investigate “Fake News” in First Year Seminar


Student Jeffrey Gao and associate professor of history Judith Miller. From Emory Photo/Video. 

Associate Professor Judith A. Miller is teaching a first-year seminar this spring titled “Fake News.” The Emory News Center’s Maureen McGavin describes the class as investigating “examples of fake news, conspiracy theories, hoaxes, biased stories and wrongful convictions, in the U.S. and in other countries, as well as discussions of how the falsehoods took hold and were eventually debunked.” Read the Emory News Center’s profile of the course, “‘Fake News’ class helps students learn to research and identify false information,” in addition to the full course description below.

“Fake news, hoaxes, “truthiness,” lies, spin rooms, bots, leaks, deniers, and propaganda: These phenomena have shaken the world in the recent years. Fake news has become important part of our daily political culture, whether in the United States or elsewhere around the globe. Elections and public policy have been influenced by them. Our course will delve into several historical cases of hoaxes, history “deniers,” and media exploitation before turning to the recent past and even daily events in the US and elsewhere. What dynamics do those examples reveal that can illuminate the contemporary world? Then we will explore the place of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as darker parts of the web, in purveying both accurate and false information. For instance, how do “fake news” authors use language, music, and images to make their ideas more persuasive? How has technology increased the power of “fake news”? Why have certain kinds of societies been more or less vulnerable to propaganda? How have courts understood the principles of “free expression,” “burden of proof,” and a “free press”? How have politicians and journalists contributed to and struggled with the recent intensifying “fake news” phenomenon? We will work closely with Woodruff librarians as we evaluate evidence: How do historians weigh claims and sources? Are there even clear red flags in our media-saturated world? How can historical examples help us sort out these questions? Each student will develop a case study of an incident–understood broadly, anything from political propaganda anywhere in the world, to allegations of wrongful conviction or sexual assault, to history deniers, as just a few examples–that takes up these issues.”

Martin Pimentel, Senior History Major and Fox Fellow, Posts on Research About Detroit’s Rumor Control Center

Martin Pimentel, a senior double-majoring in history and political science, recently published a blog post for the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Pimentel is a Fox Center Undergraduate Humanities SIRE Fellow. He is completing his honors thesis, which examines the history of Detroit’s rumor control center in the 1960s. Read his recent post here: “Detrioters: The Rise and Fall of the Detroit Rumor Control Center, 1967-1970.”