Dr. William S. Cossen, a former history major and 2008 graduate, recently published his first monograph. Titled Making Catholic America: Religious Nationalism in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (Cornell UP), the book examines how white American Catholics worked to claim privileged and leading roles as model American citizens in the decades after the Civil War and before the Great Depression. Describing the book as “Superb,” Mark Noll (The University of Notre Dame) praises the book’s combination of “exceptionally deep archival research with wide reading in contemporary and historical accounts.” Gossen completed his PhD at the Pennsylvania State University in 2016. He is faculty at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, the top-ranked public high school in Georgia and U.S. News & World Report’s ninth-best high school in the United States.
Doctoral student Anjuli Webster has been awarded a 2023 Dissertation Grant from the National Institute of Social Sciences (NISS) to support fieldwork for her dissertation, titled “Fluid Empires: Histories of Environment and Sovereignty in Southern Africa, 1750-1900.” Webster is currently conducting research in South Africa, Eswatini, and Mozambique. The NISS funding will support additional research in Mozambique central to two chapters of her dissertation. Read a quote from Webster about her work below, along with an illuminating feature story about Webster written by Karina Antenucci for the Laney Graduate School.
“Understanding the afterlives of empire is a central concern of my work as a historian. Histories of imperialism and colonialism have not only shaped our present climate crisis, but they have also undermined indigenous modes of responding to and managing ecological emergency across the world.”
Dr. Michelle Armstrong-Partida, Associate Professor, was recently recognized for an article the she published in Past & Present with her co-author, Dr. Susan McDonough, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Titled “Singlewomen in the Late Medieval Mediterranean,” their piece won the article of the month prize from the Mediterranean Seminar. The article challenges prevailing ideas about the supposed distinct marital patterns among mediaeval women in Northern and Southern Europe, offering a persuasive, archivally-rich reinterpretation that the prize evaluator described as “rigorous and thought-provoking” as well as “theoretically sophisticated.” Read the abstract from the article below, along with the full comments from the award evaluation.
This article challenges a long-entrenched model of two discrete marital regimes in northern and southern Europe. Demographer John Hajnal argued in 1965 that a distinctive north-western European Marriage Pattern emerged post-1700 when a large population of unmarried men and women married in their early to late twenties and formed their own household rather than join a multi-generational household. The corollary to this argument is that women in southern Europe married young and universally, and thus rarely entered into domestic service. Medievalists have embraced and repeated this paradigm, shaping assumptions about the Mediterranean as less developed or ‘less European’ than the north and ignoring the experience of women enslaved throughout the region.
Notaries and judicial officials in medieval Barcelona, Valencia, Mallorca, Marseille, Palermo, Venice, Famagusta and Crete recognized singlewomen owning property, buying, selling and manumitting enslaved people, appointing procurators, committing crimes and making wills. We reintegrate the experiences of singlewomen, both enslaved and free, into the daily life of the medieval Mediterranean. Understanding how these women made community, survived economically and participated in the legal and notarial cultures of their cities reframes our understanding of women’s options outside marriage in the medieval past.
Dr. Jinyu Liu has joined the faculty of the Emory History Department as Acting Betty Gage Holland Professor of Roman History. Dr. Liu was previously Professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University, where she also served as Department Chair from 2013-’16. Her research interests include: social relations in Roman cities, the non-elite in the Roman Empire, Latin epigraphy, the reception of Graeco-Roman classics in China, and translating classical texts in a global context. In the Q&A below, Dr. Liu offers insights on her research and teaching as well as the factors that drew her to Emory.
Tell us about the focus of your research and principal current project.
My main research area is the socio-economic history of ancient Rome through the examination of inscriptions and other written documents, particularly those related to the lower classes, social hierarchies, social and geographical mobilities, and economy. My work engages with an ongoing effort to write Roman history “from below”, which decenters the “elite” at Rome and systematically (re)constructs the historical experiences, organizational and survival strategies, expectations, aspirations, and self-representation of those below the ruling classes in the ancient Roman World. A particular focus of my research in this area lies in the study of the associations/guilds (collegia) in the Roman Empire. I have published a monograph and a number of articles on the topic. My current and ongoing projects in the area of socio-economic history of Rome have two directions: 1) comparative studies of the associative phenomenon in ancient China and Rome; and 2) investigations into the less rosy aspect of the experiences of (im)migrants in the early Roman Empire, in reaction to a general tendency in the existing scholarship that leans towards a positive, perhaps overly positive, assessment of the interaction between the (im)migrants and the locals in the Roman World.
Another research interest of mine is the reception, translation, and dissemination of Greek and Roman antiquity in China. I have published an edited volume in English (with T. Sienkewicz, Ovid in China: Reception, Translation, and Comparison. Brill, 2022), a two-volume collective book in Chinese (New Frontiers of Research on Ovid in a Global Context. Peking University Press, 2021), and several articles in reception studies. I am also serving as the Principal Instigator for a collaborative project on “Translating the Complete Corpus of Ovid’s Poetry into Chinese with Commentaries”. Selected translations and commentaries from the project that have been published in journals are made openly available on “Dickinson Classics Online“, a platform that the Classics Department of Dickinson College helped create in 2015 to provide resources in Graeco-Roman history and Greek/Latin literature to the Sinophone users.
Was there a particularly memorable moment from archival or field research that has had a lasting impact on your work or career?
My visit to the old Roman sites such as Ostia, Pompeii, and Herculaneum many years ago left a long-lasting impact on me. Deprived of the old residents/visitors, odor, sound, and the other features of these places when they were still alive and active, they are sites for imagination and reconstruction. The ancient people did leave many clues in the form of epitaphs, honorific monuments, buildings of various types and sorts, tombs, electoral paintings on the exterior walls of the houses, graffiti, and so on. Another very interesting site is Isola Sacra, which is a large-scale cemetery from the Roman times. There you will see house-shaped tombs, burial slots saved for freedmen and freedwomen, a carving with a midwife assisting childbirth, and so on. The world of the dead has preserved the clues for the world of the living. My dissertation and later work have mostly concerned with reading and making connections of these clues in a contextualized manner.
What sort of courses – undergraduate or graduate – are you most excited to offer at Emory?
I am excited to teach “History of Rome” and “Slavery in Ancient Rome” in the coming semester. I also greatly look forward to offering “Uncovering the Marginalized Voices”, “Being Ordinary Romans”, “The Political Culture of Ancient Rome”, “Rome and China Compared”, and “Exile in Antiquity: History, Law, Material conditions, and Literature” in the future.
What drew you to Emory?
I was impressed with how intellectually advanced the students were and appreciated their curiosities and probing questions during my visit to Emory. I have also tremendously appreciated the high morale and energy in the History Department and on campus, as well as the friendliness of the staff members. My work also intersects and overlaps with the expertise of several History Department faculty, including colleagues working on history from “bottom up”, empire, expatriates, slavery, and reception studies. It is hard to resist the prospect of working with a number of highly accomplished historians in an immensely supportive environment, where there is real potential for methodological and thematic synergy within the Department and with the Classics Department.
The Association for Caribbean Historians has awarded Dr. Adriana Chira’s book Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations (Cambridge UP, 2022) with its Elsa Goveia Book Prize. Named for renowned Caribbean historian Elsa Goveia (1925-80), the biennial prize recognizes scholarly excellence in the field of Caribbean history. Patchwork Freedoms was released as part of Cambridge’s Afro-Latin America series. The following citation about Patchwork Freedoms was read at the ACH annual meeting in June 2023:
In Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations (Cambridge University Press, 2022), Adriana Chira probes an extensive but little-known archive of legal documents to analyze how Afro-descendent rural cultivators negotiated liberty and landholding rights in nineteenth-century Santiago de Cuba. Her meticulous research demonstrates how protracted struggles against local legal institutions blurred the lines between enslavement and freedom. Chira argues that it was these gradual, lengthy, community-based processes, coupled with the flexibility of customary law, rather than innovations from above, that allowed these landholders to carve out spaces of greater autonomy. Patchwork Freedoms is an important counterpoint to scholarship that emphasize freedoms gained through Atlantic and circum-Caribbean mobility or formal processes of abolition and emancipation. It is essential reading for scholars of Atlantic world slavery, legal regimes, and agrarian societies.
Emory undergraduate students recently contributed their original research projects to the website of the History of Skiing & Snowsports course. Dr. Judith A. Miller, Associate Professor, has offered this innovative class since the spring semester of 2021. This year’s 24 student contributions tackle a range of compelling subjects, from the history of affordable housing in Aspen to the development of adaptive technologies that enable disabled persons to ride the slopes. View the full collection of student research, encompassing three years of the course’s offering, on the History of Skiing & Snowsports website.
Fourth-year doctoral candidate Anjuli Webster has been awarded a 2023 dissertation grant from the National Institute of Social Sciences. The NISS grant will support research for Webster’s dissertation, titled “Fluid Empires: Histories of Environment and Sovereignty in southern Africa, 1750-1900.” History department faculty members Clifton Crais, Mariana P. Candido, Yanna Yannakakis, and Thomas D. Rogers serve as advisors for Webster’s dissertation. The NISS typically awards no more than four grants each year, spanning the fields of Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
Fourth-year doctoral candidate Olivia Cocking has received a prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), a grant administered by the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in the United States. The fellowship will support research in France for Cocking’s dissertation, which examines how migrants from the French empire navigated municipal courts and social welfare programs in the metropole between 1919 and the 1960s. Cocking’s dissertation is advised by Drs. Judith A. Miller and Tehila Sasson.
At the May 2023 Emory Commencement nine PhD candidates from the History Department were recognized for completing their degrees. Some of the students received their diplomas in the summer or fall of 2022 but were not honored until the 2023 ceremony. The students represent more than seven areas of research specialization and are pursuing an array of professional positions inside and outside the academy. In the table below, find the names, advisors, and dissertations of these recently-minted PhDs.
The first-year cohort of doctoral students recently presented their research at the History Department’s annual Hi-Five gathering. Adapted from the University of Queensland’s Three Minute Thesis model, the Hi-Five charges students to put forth a sound, compelling, and accessible distillation of their research. Five first-year History Department students presented their work:
See images of the event below and learn more about these students’ research on their graduate student webpages.