Dr. James Roark, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of American History, Retires

Dr. James Roark, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of American History, will retire at the end of the semester after 33 years at Emory. A specialist in the 18th and 19th century history of the American South, Roark has served as department chair twice and has authored or coauthored numerous works. They include Masters Without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction (1977), Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South (1986), and The American Promise, which is about to release its 7th edition.


Professor Joseph Crespino on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind”

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Joseph Crespino, Department Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor, recently joined Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind” for a conversation about echoes between past and present presidential races. Hosted by Bill Nigut, the segment was titled “Historical Parallels Between the 2016 Campaigns and Past Races.” You can find the full audio for the show at this link, and below is a plug elaborating on one part of their conversation:

We take a close look at “Confessions of a Republican,” a remarkable 1964 TV commercial that questions the fitness of the Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater to serve in the Oval Office. Crespino says the spot could easily be transplanted into today’s race as Democrats raise questions about Donald Trump’s preparedness and temperament to be president.

First-Year Graduate Students End Semester with Hi-Five Research Presentations

The first-year cohort from the PhD program recently capped off the semester by presenting their research at the department’s annual Hi-Five event. The Hi-Five helps students develop their academic, presentation, and research communication skills and is based on the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition that originated at The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. The format is also used by the Laney Graduate School for those students completing their Ph.D. dissertations. In presentations to the department, each student must adhere to the following rules:

  • Presentations must be five minutes or less. Presentations will be cut off after five minutes.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ in the slide, and the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the front of the room and must be done while standing.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.

Participating students and the titles of their papers are as follows:

Oskar Czendze – “Old Homes Made New: The Reinvention of Landsmanshaftn in the United States”

Mary Grace Dupree – “The Golden Chalice: Vision and Prophecy in the Narrative of Perpetua of Carthage”

Cheng-Heng Lu – “Double-edged Sword: The History of the Shi Clan in the Qing Empire”

Luke Hagemann – “Imperial Clementia in Late Roman Law”

Anthony Tipping – “A Coercive Public Health Campaign in Rio de Janeiro: The benevolent elite, the ignorant masses, and the revolta da vacina of 1904″

Alexandra Lemos Zagonel – “Secret Agent Men: Spying at Brazilian Universities in the Twilight of Military Rule”

Tim Romans – “Under the Vermillion Seal: Japan’s Forgotten Tokugawa Pirates”

Anthony Sciubba – “Ancient Arbitration: Conflict Mediation in Late Antiquity”

Graduating History Major, Ami Fields-Meyer, Named Emory College Class Orator

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Following the university-wide commencement ceremony on May 9, senior history major Ami Fields-Meyer will speak to his fellow graduates as the class orator at the Emory College diploma ceremony. The Los Angeles native arrived at Emory with sights set on a career in politics as an elected official. A history class early on changed his perspective and led him to a major in History (along with a minor in African-American studies) instead of political science.

“[H]e took a history class focused on the history of inequality in the United States. Fields-Meyer discovered life as a self-described news junkie took on greater depth when he understood the historical context of current events.”

Fields-Meyer also highlights his experience in the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases course, co-taught by historian Brett Gadsden and Hank Klibanoff. Gadsden remembers Fields-Meyer fondly from the class: “One thing I’ve really admired is his efforts to bridge the past and the present, to really think about the gap between the two, and understand the echoes of history. That’s testimony to me of a dynamic mind.”

In addition to his accomplishments as a Dean’s Achievement Scholar, Fields-Meyer co-founded TableTalk, an initiative designed to spur conversations between groups at Emory that would not likely otherwise interact.

Read the full profile on Fields-Meyer here.

Dr. Dawn Peterson in ‘Slate’ on “Andrew Jackson’s Adopted Indian Son”

Illustration from John Frost's 1860 biography, A Pictorial History of Andrew Jackson.

Illustration from John Frost’s 1860 biography, A Pictorial History of Andrew Jackson – Internet Archive 

Professor Dawn Peterson was recently interviewed for a piece in Slate by Rebecca Onion. Prompted by discussions following the decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, the article hones in on one piece of Jackson’s life frequently cited by those who defend his legacy: his adoption of a infant Creek boy in 1813. Peterson offers historical context for the adoption of Lyncoya (the name given by Jackson to the orphaned boy) and the practice in southern society more broadly. These insights derive from Peterson’s recent research and especially her forthcoming book Indians in the National Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion (Harvard University Press in 2017). Read an excerpt from the piece below and check out the full article here.

Though they adopted native children, slaveholders like Jackson imagined “they were assimilating Native people and their lands into the confines of the United States. They believed that what they were doing was a benevolent act, but also understood it as a form of cultural genocide.”