Doctor Balcerski in the news

Assistant Professor of History Tom Balcerski (shown above, on the left) has been in the news recently.  Dr. Balcerski’s first book, Bosom Friends: the Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King, will be released by Oxford University Press later this summer.  It explores the lives and relationship between this President and Vice President pair, challenging our modern assumptions about historical same-sex relationships and their place in early American public life.  With Pete Buttigieg (above, on the right), the openly gay mayor of South Bend Indiana, running to be the next president, Dr. Balcerski’s book strikes a timely chord.  As such, he has given interviews for both Time Magazine and NBC News, discussing the historical significance of Mayor Buttigieg’s candidacy.  In Faulkner’s words, “the past isn’t over.  It isn’t even past.”

 

Image credits: ECSU; Oxford University Press; City of South Bend

Congratulations to Phi Alpha Theta Presenters

Over the winter break two senior history majors attended the 2018 Biennial Convention for Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, in the beautiful city of New Orleans. Both students, Alexa Potter and Adam Murphy, presented individual research projects. The students had the opportunity to share their respective projects on panels with fellow historians from across the country, gaining valuable feedback to improve their research. Alexa had this to say about the conference, “Presenting at a convention of this size was very valuable as an undergrad. I gained insight in the art of coherently presenting research in a way that captures the audience as well as challenges them. The Q&A portion provided very useful feedback on my paper along with future ideas to explore.”

Alexa presented a paper coming from her honors thesis titled “There Must be Something in the Water: The Industrial Pollution of the Naugatuck River, 1850-1930.” Adam, presented his paper which originated from his senior seminar, “A Professor’s Experience in Indonesia: Examining the Partnership Between University of Kentucky and Bogor Agricultural College 1957-1966.” He adds, “I received such valuable information from attending presentations of other historians. I attended presentations on a variety of topics including U.S-Congo diplomatic relations and Vietnam war protest music. Additionally, I attended a “how to” panel about growing successful student journals.”

In addition to attending academic panels, the students found time to appreciate local history of New Orleans, like the French Quarter, as well as trying local foods like the variety of seafood and ‘po’boys’. Alexa mentions, “The location of the convention in New Orleans provided a beautiful and historical backdrop to the four days of presentations.” Adam adds, “This experience has shown me the importance of recognizing student research and allowing them to partake in experiences like these. I would like to thank Eastern CT State University for the continued effort to make this a priority. I would encourage any student to take advantage of opportunities big and small to present their research.” Similarly, Alexa says, “I am honored to be a part of Phi Alpha Theta, and additionally, thankful to my advisors and Eastern for allowing me this opportunity.”

Adam Murphy and Alexa Potter, Phi Alpha Theta scholar-students

Did Louis XIV Love Battles Too Much?

After presenting a paper at a conference hosted by the French Defense Department’s Historical section (Service historique de la Défense) in 2015, Dr. Ostwald just published the expanded book chapter:

Ostwald, Jamel. “Louis XIV aimait-il trop la bataille?” In Les dernières guerres de Louis XIV: 1688-1715, edited by Hervé Drévillon, Bertrand Fonck, and Jean-Philippe Cénat, translated by Jean-Pascale Esparceil, 99–120. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017.
https://www.mollat.com/livres/2115030/jean-philippe-cenat-les-dernieres-guerres-de-louis-xiv-1688-1715.

Book cover: The Last Wars of Louis XIV, 1688-1715

Book cover: The Last Wars of Louis XIV, 1688-1715

His chapter, “Did Louis XIV love battle too much?”, discusses the conflicting views about battle held by France’s Sun King – a ‘risk-averse’ monarch who frequently avoided field battle, yet who loved his fortresses so much that he was willing to risk a much larger battlefield defeat in order to preserve them. This paradox of a cautious battle-seeker complicates the broader Western tendency to draw a clear distinction between those who seek, and those who avoid, the risks of battle in the open field.

How I Spent My Summer, By Dr. Bradley Davis

Because we academics don’t actually have three months off in the summer, we have a report of Dr. Davis’ labors during summer “break.”

This summer, Dr. Davis spent several weeks reading materials in the Vietnamese imperial archives, a collection that has only recently become accessible in Hanoi. Over seven weeks, he read the administrative records of the Nguyễn Dynasty, which ruled the entire country of Vietnam from 1802 to 1862, and continued to independently rule the northern and central sections of the country until French colonial rule in the 1880s. Focusing on the period from 1820 to 1847, Dr. Davis compiled materials on ethnic Chinese labor, territorial disputes between Vietnam and other countries, and the legal status of elephants. Together with historians from the Vietnam National University, the Institute of Hán-Nôm Studies, and the École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Dr. Davis has formed an Imperial Archives Research Group, which will develop reference materials for researchers interested in these documents.

While in Hanoi, Dr. Davis also gave a talk (in Vietnamese) on his recent book, Imperial Bandits, to the Institute for Cultural Studies. Two podcast series, from Northern Illinois University and the Australian National University, have published episodes featuring Dr. Davis discussing the book (links below). He also published a chapter in an edited volume – “Between Nation and Ethnos: Genealogies of Dân Tộc in Vietnamese Contexts,” in Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach ed. Histories of Anthropology Annual: Volume 11 – Historicizing Theories, Identities, and Nations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

He is also really looking forward to the fall!

Bradley Camp Davis, “Imperial Bandits: Outlaws and Rebels in the China-Vietnam Borderlands” (U of Washington Press, 2017)

 

More undergraduate research

Eastern History majors have multiple venues in which to show off their research chops. Just a few weeks after the CSU Making History conference, more History majors presented their papers and posters at Eastern’s annual CREATE conference.

What Goes Up Must Come Down? Sarah Brihan presents on the artistic undermining of the Berlin Wall

What Goes Up Must Come Down? Sarah Brihan presents on the artistic undermining of the Berlin Wall

Isabella Rossi presents her period dress as part of her paper, “The Elite Opulence of the Gilded Age: Creation of an 1876 Style Evening Gown.”

Isabella Rossi presents her period dress as part of her paper, “The Elite Opulence of the Gilded Age: Creation of an 1876 Style Evening Gown.”

Joseph White presents his paper, “The Foul Blot of Everlasting Shame: Why 18th Century American Patriots Told the Story of Benedict Arnold.”

Joseph White presents his paper, “The Foul Blot of Everlasting Shame: Why 18th Century American Patriots Told the Story of Benedict Arnold.”

Rosie Welles presents her paper, “‘The Mythic Rapist’: Destructive Sexual Dehumanization of Black Men in the New South.”

Rosie Welles presents her paper, “‘The Mythic Rapist’: Destructive Sexual Dehumanization of Black Men in the New South.”

Patrick Thompson explains his poster session, “Love is Love: The Rise and Fall of the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Patrick Thomson explains his poster session, “Love is Love: The Rise and Fall of the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Jaky Ray presents her poster session, “Samson Occom.”

Jaky Ray presents her poster session, “Samson Occom.”

Prof. Thomas Balcerski with student Rosie Wells; Prof. Scott Moore with student Joseph White.

Prof. Thomas Balcerski with student Rosie Wells; Prof. Scott Moore with student Joseph White.

Eastern Historians report on the AHA

AHA

Three members of the Eastern History Department attended the recent annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) in Denver over January 5-8, 2017. Professor Thomas Balcerski chaired and commented on a panel, Professor Caitlin Carenen presented a paper as part of a panel, and Dr. Anna Kirchmann participated in a panel honoring her recently published books.

 

On Thursday, January 5, Prof. Balcerski presided over the panel, “A Question of Intent: Alcoholic Insanity, Violence, and the Law in 19th-Century America.” The panel was sponsored by the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, an affiliate society of the AHA, and the Coordinating Council for Women in History. A theme of the panel was the efforts of professionals in defining the meaning of such existential categories as murder and suicide. Read more about all the ADHS panels at their web site: https://pointsadhsblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/adhs-at-aha-2017

The City of Denver played host to the 131st annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

The City of Denver played host to the 131st annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

On Friday, January 6, Prof. Carenen presented a paper as part of a panel entitled “For God and Country: Linking Faith Communities in the United States during World War I.” The panel was co-sponsored by the American Society of Church History. As a whole, the four papers looked at the influence of religion and different ethnic groups on patriotic wartime efforts in the United States during World War I. Carenen’s paper, entitled, “’We Jews Have Sold our Birthright’: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Struggle over Sectarian Relief Efforts in World War I,” discussed Jewish fundraising during the war for exclusively Jewish victims of the war. American Jews wanted to help Jews who were suffering in World War I and so they raised over seven million dollars in the U.S. to do so. But it wasn’t that simple. Many Jews wondered if they should accept money from non-Jews to help only Jews. Others wondered if it was wise to be an exclusively Jewish relief organization at a time when uber-Patriotism condemned “hyphenated” groups. Still others worried about abandoning a long history of self-help if they accepted Gentile money. Despite the fact that in the end, the relief organization did accept non-Jewish money, the discussion revealed the uncertain place American Jews felt they occupied in the United States during World War I. Read more about the American Society of Church History at their web site: https://www.churchhistory.org.

On Saturday, January 7, Prof. Kirchmann participated in a special panel organized by the Polish  American Historical Association, an affiliate of the AHA, titled “Author Meets Critics Session for The Polish Hearst: Ameryka-Echo and the Public Role of the Immigrant Press by Anna Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann.”  In the panel, three noted historians from the fields of social history, and specifically the history of immigration and communication, commented on Prof. Kirchmann’s latest book.  In response, Prof. Kirchmann addressed her critics and broadly discissed her methods, evidence, and argument.  Read more about Prof. Kirchmann’s book at the University of Illinois Press web site: http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/72fpc9dk9780252039096.html and about the Polish American Historical Association at their web site: http://www.polishamericanstudies.org/index.html.

Bandits!

Congratulations to Dr. Bradley Davis for his book now out from the University of Washington press:DAVIMP

Dr. Davis will be giving a talk on his book this April 12, at 3 PM in Science 301.

Book description:

The Black Flags raided their way from southern China into northern Vietnam, competing during the second half of the nineteenth century against other armed migrants and uplands communities for the control of commerce, specifically opium, and natural resources, such as copper. At the edges of three empires (the Qing empire in China, the Vietnamese empire governed by the Nguyen dynasty, and, eventually, French Colonial Vietnam), the Black Flags and their rivals sustained networks of power and dominance through the framework of political regimes. This lively history demonstrates the plasticity of borderlines, the limits of imposed boundaries, and the flexible division between apolitical banditry and political rebellion in the borderlands of China and Vietnam.

Imperial Bandits contributes to the ongoing reassessment of borderland areas as frontiers for state expansion, showing that, as a setting for many forms of human activity, borderlands continue to exist well after the establishment of formal boundaries.

Modern Echoes

Modern Echoes

History was Made

And made well. The Eastern contingent of the “Making History” conference returned on March 11.

In was has become an annual affair, the four chairs of History Departments at Western, Central, Eastern and Southern hosted the second annual CSU “Making History” Conference. This year the conference took place at CCSU. As last year, both faculty and students presented their research papers and posters. Eastern’s Department of History was well-represented. Professor Thomas Balcerski presented a paper “Beards, Bachelors, and Brides: The Surprisingly Spicy Politics of the Presidential Election of 1856.” Professor Joan Meznar presented a paper on “Religion and Abolition of Slavery in Brazil.” Students Jacqueline Ray and Bethany Marion prepared a poster on “Samson Occom’s Life and Legacy;” Carl Kraus presented on “Colonial Norwich: Slave Society or Society with Slaves?”; Sabreena Croeau spoke on “The Detrimental Effects of the U.S. – Saudi Arabian Alliance,” and Christopher J. Morris presented a paper “Got a Donkey in the Crosshairs: The Partisan Anticommunism of Senator Joseph McCarthy.” Students Alaina Torromeo and McKenzie Korte, whose papers on colonial slavery in Connecticut were also in the program, were unable to participate in the conference.

Student and faculty presenters (L-R): Jacqueline Ray, Dr. Anna Kirchmann, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Bethany Marion, Christopher Morris, Carl Krauss, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski

Student and faculty presenters (L-R): Jacqueline Ray, Dr. Anna Kirchmann, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Bethany Marion, Christopher Morris, Carl Krauss, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski

In addition to the presenters and the Department’s Chair Dr. Kirchmann, several of the students from the History Club attended the conference. While at the conference, the Eastern group was glad to run into two recent history alumni, Bethany Niebank and Jared Leitzel, who are now graduate students in Central’s public history program.

Dr. Kirchmann commented: “‘Making History’ brings together both faculty and students in our four departments and while facilitating the exchange of academic knowledge, it helps us to get to know each other better. This year’s conference was a great event, which allowed our students to experience first-hand a professional conference. All our presenters did a fantastic job and I was very proud of them.”

Eastern Attendees at the 2016 Making History conference

Eastern Attendees at the 2016 Making History conference. From L to R, back to front: Dr. Ania Kirchmann, Jacqueline Ray, Sabrina Bell, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Chris Morris, Carl Krauss, Dr. Thomas Balcerski, History alum Jared Leitzel, Sara Dean, Bethany Marion, Alexa Potter, and History alum Bethany Niebanck.

 

The Looooong History of the Syrian migration crisis

On February 22, 2016, Dr. David Frye (History Department) presented a talk “Walling out the World: The Long History of Long Walls” as a part of the Ethnicity/Migration program for Spring 2016.

Dr. Frye argued that although the potential utility of long border walls is currently being fiercely debated in both Europe and North America, border walls are not a new idea.  States have been constructing long walls as a means of limiting unwanted immigration since at least the third millennium BC—some two thousand years before the first forerunners of China’s Great Wall.

David Frye on whether walls make good neighbors

David Frye illustrates whether tables make good neighbors

Dr. Frye’s presentation was based on the book manuscript on the same theme, which he has recently completed.

Early American Entrepreneurs

Be sure to congratulate Dr. Tucker on her article publication in New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. The abstract:

Roswell Colt of Paterson, New Jersey came of age during the Early Republic. A successful entrepreneur, he invested in a variety of projects including the once moribund Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), a public/private company organized by Alexander Hamilton and his associates to promote the industrial development of Paterson, a new town built along the Passaic River. Where Hamilton failed, Colt succeeded. The S.U.M. became the cornerstone of his successful business career. His economic portfolio was diverse; he invested in railroads, textile mills, weapons factories, real estate, salt works, and banks. He mingled with politicians such as Daniel Webster, served as an economic and political advisor to Nicholas Biddle and his cousin, Samuel Colt, and dined with Philip Hone. He felt at home in Paterson, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. His personality, values, instincts and economic strategies fit in well with the emerging market economy.

It’s available here: http://njs.libraries.rutgers.edu/index.php/njs/article/view/28. You can even read it for free! So read it – It will be on the test.