2020 History Publications And Grants

*Indicates student co-author

Bjornlie, M. Shane. “Gregory of Tours and the Decem Libri Historiarum between Religious Belief and Rhetorical Habit.” Studies in Late Antiquity, vol. 4, issue 2, 2020, pp. 153-184.

Abstract: This study examines the rhetorical structure of the Decem libri historiarum of Gregory of Tours. Whereas previous studies have drawn attention to Gregory's habit of pairing parallel narrative threads for the purpose of comparing what he considered to be appropriate and inappropriate behavior, the inconsistencies in that rhetorical strategy (e.g., lack of criticism for Clovis' parricidal policies of expansion and uncharacteristic moments of praise for Chilperic, the “Herod and Nero” of Gregory's lifetime) have been attributed to Gregory's penchant for the ironic or satirical. This study takes the view that Gregory purposefully constructed complicated, and at times contradictory, profiles for the dramatis personae of his history in order to generate a sense of suspended judgment for which he would become the ultimate arbiter at the end of an individual's life. This style of narrating the lives of individuals made Gregory himself a dramatis persona in his own history by investing him with absolute interpretative authority and authority over the construction of historical memory. Gregory's careful development of that authority was itself a strategy for survival in a very fluid, and often volatile, political environment.


Bjornlie, Shane. Review of Rome Resurgent, by Peter Heather. Studies in Late Antiquity, vol. 3, issue 4, 2020, pp. 624-29.


Bjornlie, M. Shane. "The Sack of Rome in 410: the Anatomy of a Late Antique Debate." Leadership and Community in Late Antiquity: Essays in Honour of Raymond Van Dam, edited by Y.R. Kim and A.E.T. McLaughlin. Brepols, 2020, pp. 249-79.

Abstract: The Gothic sack of Rome in 410 was an event consequential to how people living in Late Antiquity thought about the Roman Empire. After centuries of Rome's uninterrupted and unequivocal association with the many faces of Empire, the occupation of Rome by what the sources characterize as 'barbarians' challenged the political, religious and ethnic definition of Empire. Reactions to the event reverberated in literary sources for centuries, but those many reactions, when read from the 5th to the 8th century, reveal the complex interplay of different associations for Empire in highly individualized contexts. This paper surveys reactions to a single event as a means of understanding the production of historical knowledge in Late Antiquity.


Bjornlie, M. Shane. The Selected Letters of Cassiodorus: A Sixth-Century Sourcebook. University of California Press, 2020.

Abstract: One of the great Christian scholars of antiquity and a high-ranking public official under Theoderic, King of the Ostrogoths, Cassiodorus authored edicts, diplomatic letters and legal documents while in office. The collection of his writings, the Variae, remains among the most important sources for the sixth century, the period during which late antiquity transitioned to the early middle ages. In The Selected Letters, M. Shane Bjornlie translates the most interesting evidence from the Variae for understanding the political culture, legal structure, intellectual and religious worldviews, and social evolution during the twilight of the late-Roman state. Bjornlie's invaluable introduction discusses Cassiodorus's interactions with emperors, kings, bishops, military commanders, private citizens, and even criminals. Section notes to each letter provide context and connection to other letters, opening a window to Cassiodorus' world.

Cody, Lisa Forman. "Re-Presenting a Midwife Across Borders: Paratexts and Imagery in Translations of Louise Bourgeois' Observations diverses, 1609-1707." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 49, issue 3, 2020, pp. 296-322.

Abstract: While any original work, whether written by a man or a woman, was transformed through the act of converting it from one language to another, the process could have different consequences for early modern women authors, including female midwives. In this essay, I analyze the seventeenth-century publications of the French royal midwife Louise Bourgeois' work as it appeared in German, Dutch, and English translations; however, my focus here is not on the particulars of translation but on the decisions foreign publishers made about which portions of her text to include and to cut and how they chose to present her work to different national audiences. When we consider the fate of Bourgeois' text across borders, in translation, and with its paratextual alterations—layout, illustration, titles and typeface—we must remember the larger context. Although physicians had been interested in childbirth for millennia, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries something changed: physicians began to assert "new" knowledge and authority over the female reproductive body on the basis of the emerging science of anatomy; some elite and educated women began to embrace this "new" knowledge and authority by assuming that a male birth attendant was safer than a female. Anatomical knowledge was, of course, basically inaccessible to the vast majority of women. Midwives and their defenders, however, continued to assert their age-old authority over these matters. Thus, women's access to and care of the reproductive body continued to be contested and appropriated. And, paradoxically, it was contested and appropriated by the dissemination of Bourgeois' text in translation, as each edition came increasingly to be framed by male authority.

Ferguson, Heather. “Periodizations in Crisis: Early Modernity and Ottoman Imperial Historiography.” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, pp. 27-30.


Ferguson, Heather. “Unseating ‘State’ and ‘Archive’: Mobility and Manipulation in Past Environments and Present Praxis.” Itinerario, vol. 44, issue 3, 2020, pp. 591-608.

Abstract: These concluding reflections assess how the contributors to this special issue intervene in key assumptions that shape the current field of archival studies. As the “archival turn” gains ground, forms of Euro- and state-centrism reappear in scholarship otherwise innovative in its attention to the textual remnants of the past. Here, instead, we explore the methodological stakes involved in defining both the “archive” and the historical power brokers who created and preserved a documentary record in pursuit of their varied social, cultural, economic, and political projects. The essay points to the resurgence of culturalist and civilisational indices for comparative archivistics, and follows the arguments collected in this issue to assert by contrast the often uneven and uneasy regional, administrative, and procedural definitions at work within preserved records. Identifying “mobility” as both a methodological tactic and a historical process, this conclusion presents a fluid rather than fixed textual landscape and presents an alternative frame for investigating preservationist practices.

Geismer, Lily. "Agents of Change: Microenterprise, Welfare Reform, the Clintons, and Liberal Forms of Neoliberalism." Journal of American History, vol. 107, issue 1, 2020, pp. 107-113.

Abstract: The efforts of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their New Democrat allies to promote microenterprise in the 1980s and 1990s brings into sharp relief the ways in which the rise of the microenterprise contributed both to the retrenchment of welfare and other social services and the argument that the private sector, especially entrepreneurship, could solve the problems of poverty in the United States and the developing world. It provides new insight into Clinton's antipoverty policies and larger political vision. It also offers a means to interrogate the complexity and spectrum of neoliberalism and free market thinking and policy and the transformation of liberalism and the Democratic Party since the 1970s and points to the need to bring issues of poverty and welfare more squarely into the study of American capitalism. The promotion of microenterprise sought to contribute to an important shift in cultural conceptions of the poor away from the image of the passive, lazy and dependent welfare mother to that of rational and hardworking entrepreneur. This idea discarded many of the worst tropes of the culture of poverty discourse and bestowed a new power onto poor people. Yet in validating entrepreneurship as a means of economic development and poverty alleviation it both elided a deeper in the structural origins of poverty and increasingly absolved politicians, the state and economic structures from responsibility and perpetuated rather than reduced socio-economic inequity and unequal relations of power. Instead, it helped further insert the concept of entrepreneurship into the political and social consciousness of the late 20th and early 21st century.


Geismer, Lily. "Follow The Tax Incentive: Thoughts On Berman's The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex." HistPhil, December 2, 2020.

Hamburg, Gary M. "Petr Chaadaev and the Slavophile-Westernizer Debate.” Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought, edited by Caryl Emerson, George Pattison, and Randall A. Poole. Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 111-132.

Abstract: Chaadaev's prophetic and mystical contribution to Russian religious thought, with special emphasis on the Slavophile-Westernizer debate — the most important dispute in Russian intellectual history in the nineteenth century.


Hamburg, Gary M. Review of On the Periphery of Europe, 1762-1825, by Andreas Schönle and Andrei Zorin. The American Historical Review, vol. 125, issue 2, 2020, pp. 744-745.


Hamburg, Gary M. Review of Republicanism in Russia, by Oleg Kharkhordin. Journal of Modern History, vol. 92, no. 3, 2020, pp. 726-727.


Hamburg, Gary and Semion Lyandres, eds. Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography, vol. 13, issue 1, 2020.

Abstract: Special issue on the Russian Revolution.


Hamburg, Gary and Randall A. Poole. “Andrzej Walicki (1930-2020), in Memoriam.” Slavic Review, vol. 79, 2020.

Hamburg, Gary. Review of Republicanism in Russia, by Oleg Kharkhordin. Journal of Modern History, vol. 92, no. 3, 2020, pp. 726-727.

Kumar, Nita, and Usha Sanyal, eds. Food, Faith and Gender in South Asia: The Cultural Politics of Women's Food Practices. Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

Abstract: How do women express individual agency when engaging in seemingly prescribed or approved practices such as religious fasting? How are sectarian identities played out in the performance of food piety? What do food practices tell us about how women negotiate changes in family relationships? This collection offers a variety of distinct perspectives on these questions. Organized thematically, areas explored include the subordination of women, the nature of resistance, boundary making and the construction of identity and community. Methodologically, the essays use imaginative reconstructions of women's experiences, particularly where the only accounts available are written by men. The essays focus on Hindus and Muslims in South Asia, Sri Lankan Buddhist women and South Asians in the diaspora in the US and UK. It has an in-depth Introduction by Nita Kumar and Usha Sanyal.


Kumar, Nita. “Indian Modernity as the Problem of Indian Education.” Elementary Education in India: Policy Shifts, Issues and Challenges, edited by Jyoti Raina. Routledge, 2020.

Livesay, Daniel. Review of Remembering Early Modern Revolutions, edited by Edward Vallance. Social History, vol. 52, no. 106, 2019, pp. 426-428. [Published in 2019 but not celebrated last year]


Livesay, Daniel. “Transatlantic Family-Making: Jamaica and Great Britain.” Latin American History, April 26, 2019. [Published in 2019 but not celebrated last year]

Abstract: This article examines the history of transatlantic families in Jamaica and Britain from the fifteenth century to the present. It was commissioned by the editors at the Oxford Research Encyclopedia to give a focused look at particular new currents in historical scholarship.

Lower, Wendy. “Intersections: Holocaust Studies, Personal Lives.” Advancing Holocaust Studies, edited by Carol Rittner and John K. Roth. Roth. Routledge, 2021, pp. 128-140.

Abstract: In this essay, I recount my own discovery of Holocaust history and evolution of my learning and research as the result of personal encounters with victims, perpetrators and bystanders, as well as the role that students have played in asking the big questions and challenging me in the classroom.


Lower, Wendy, and Anoush Baghdassarian. “Introduction.” Surviving the Forgotten Genocide: An Armenian Survivor's Memoir, by John Minassian. Rowman and Littlefield, 2020, pp. xiii-xxiv.

Abstract: The twentieth century was an era of genocide, which started with the Turkish destruction of more than one million Armenian men, women, and children--a modern process of total, violent erasure that began in 1895 and exploded under the cover of the First World War. John Minassian lived through this as a teenager, witnessing the murder of his own kin, concealing his identity as an orphan and laborer in Syria, and eventually immigrating to the United States to start his life anew. A rare testimony of a survivor of the Armenian genocide, one of just a handful of accounts in English, Minassian's memoir is breathtaking in its vivid portraits of Armenian life and culture and poignant in its sensitive recollections of the many people who harmed and helped him. As well as a searing testimony, his memoir documents the wartime policies and behavior of Ottoman officials and their collaborators; the roles played by foreign armies, as well as by American missionaries; and the ultimate collapse of the empire. The author's journey, and his powerful story of perseverance, despair, and survival, will resonate with readers today.


Lower, Wendy, and Jonathan Petropoulos. “A Nazi Love Story: Inner Portraits of Hitler's True Believers.” Review of The Ratline, by Philippe Sands, and Mengele, by David Marwell. Times Literary Supplement, July 24, 2020.

Park, Albert L. Building a Heaven on Earth: Religion, Activism and Protest in Japanese-Occupied Korea, paperback edition. University of Hawaii Press, 2020.

Abstract: Why and how did Korean religious groups respond to growing rural poverty, social dislocation, and the corrosion of culture caused by forces of modernization under strict Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945)? Questions about religion's relationship and response to capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, and secularization lie at the heart of understanding the intersection between colonialism, religion, and modernity in Korea. Yet, getting answers to these questions has been a challenge because of narrow historical investigations that fail to study religious processes in relation to political, economic, social, and cultural developments. In Building a Heaven on Earth, Albert L. Park studies the progressive drives by religious groups to contest standard conceptions of modernity and forge a heavenly kingdom on the Korean peninsula to relieve people from fierce ruptures in their everyday lives. The results of his study will reconfigure the debates on colonial modernity, the origins of faith-based social activism in Korea, and the role of religion in a modern world. Building a Heaven on Earth, in particular, presents a compelling story about the determination of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), the Presbyterian Church, and the Ch'ŏndogyo to carry out large-scale rural movements to form a paradise on earth anchored in religion, agriculture, and a pastoral life. It is a transnational story of leaders from these three groups leaning on ideas and systems from countries, such as Denmark, France, Japan, and the United States, to help them reform political, economic, social, and cultural structures in colonial Korea. This book shows that these religious institutions provided discursive and material frameworks that allowed for an alternative form of modernity that featured new forms of agency, social organization, and the nation. In so doing, Building a Heaven on Earth repositions our understandings of modern Korean history.


Park, Albert L. “The Individual in Colonial Korea.” Review of From Domestic Women to Sensitive Men, by Yoon Sun Yang, and Rules of the House, by Sungyun Lim. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, vol. 34, 2020, pp. 95-99.

Petropoulos, Jonathan. “Art Dealers and Their Networks in Nazi Germany and Beyond.” Dispossession: Plundering Germany Jewry, 1933-1953, edited by Christoph Kreutzmüller and Jonathan R. Zatlin. University of Michigan Press, 2020, pp. 309-331.

Abstract: An article that grew out of a conference, this piece expands on a topic in Prof. Petropoulos’ forthcoming monograph as he talks about the networks of old Nazi dealers in the postwar period.


Petropoulos, Jonathan. “Book Offers Broadest and Deepest Study of Nazi Culture Yet.” Review of Culture in Nazi Germany, by Michael H. Kater. The Art Newspaper, March 5, 2020.


Hayes, Peter, Omer Bartov, Debórah Dwork, Wolf Gruner, Claudia Koonz, Dan Michman, Jonathan Petropoulos, and Nikolaus Wachsmann. Federal Republic of Germany, et. al., v. Alan Philipp. Brief Amici Curiae of Holocaust and Nuremberg Historians, September 11, 2020.

Abstract: Jointly authored brief on the persecution of Jews in Germany from 1933 to 1945, submitted in conjunction with a US Supreme Court case involving Nazi looted art.


Lower, Wendy, and Jonathan Petropoulos. “A Nazi Love Story: Inner Portraits of Hitler's True Believers.” Review of The Ratline, by Philippe Sands, and Mengele, by David Marwell. Times Literary Supplement, July 24, 2020.


Petropoulos, Jonathan. Review of The Central Collecting Point in Munich, by Iris Lauterbach. The Journal of Modern History, vol. 92, no. 2, 2020, pp. 466-467.

Sarzynski, Sarah. Review of Exile within Exiles, by James N. Green. American Historical Review, vol. 125, issue 3, 2020, pp. 1071-1072.


Sarzynski, Sarah. Review of Foundational Films, by Maite Conde. Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 100, issue 2, 2020, pp. 363-364.

Venit-Shelton, Tamara. “The Page 99 Test.” The Campaign for the American Reader, January 29, 2020.


Venit-Shelton, Tamara. “Panic Over Coronavirus Recalls Other Racist Chapters in California’s History.” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2020.