Crespino on Carter’s Legacy: “One of the great Americans of the late 20th and early 21st century”

In the wake of recent news that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter would forgo further medical treatment and receive hospice care in his home, journalists from Atlanta News First (ANF) visited campus to investigate Carter’s legacy in the Emory community. ANF interviewed Dr. Joseph Crespino, Department Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor of History, about the positive impact that the former president made on generations of Emory students through public lectures, “Carter Town Halls,” and visits to classes that professors like Crespino taught. Crespino said that Carter, who was Distinguished University Professor at Emory, will “be remembered as one of the great Americans of the late 20th and early 21st century.” Watch/read the full story from the ANF: “Emory University professor says President Carter left lasting impression on students.”

Mellon Foundation Awards $2.4 million for Unique Partnership between Emory and College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN); Malinda Maynor Lowery to Co-Lead Initiatve

Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $2.4 million in support of a unique partnership between Emory University and the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) centered on Native and Indigenous Studies as well as the preservation of the Mvskoke language. The funding will support collaborative learning communities and research opportunities that link the campuses of Emory and the CMN. Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, helped to forge the partnership between the two institutions, including as part of the the Indigenous Language Path Working Group convened following the reappointment and expansion of President Fenves’ Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations. Read more about the partnership between Emory and the CMN and the Mellon Foundation award:

Rodriguez’s Class Inspires Pioneering, Undergraduate-Curated Exhibit on Latinx History

“Consciousness is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History”

Emory Libraries has showcased a pioneering exhibit on Latinx histories in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. Titled “Consciousness is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History,” the exhibit was curated by Arturo Contreras, a fourth-year student majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In the Emory News Center piece about the exhibit, Contreras describes how History Department Assistant Professor Yami Rodriguez helped to inspire the project through her class “Migrants, borders and transnational communities in the U.S.” Read an excerpt from the Emory News Center Article below along with the full piece here: “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an Emory Libraries pop-up exhibit.”

As a student, Contreras wanted to integrate his community work into his academic life. In spring of 2022, he enrolled in Yamileth “Yami” Rodriguez’s special topics history class to expand as a scholar in the field of Latinx studies. Rodriguez, an assistant professor of history at Emory, inspired and supported Contreras in proposing his exhibit project to the Emory Libraries Events and Exhibits team. 

“Yami’s presence is what Emory needed, especially for students wanting to be involved with their respective communities,” Contreras says. “Her field of study and method of facilitating makes the classroom an environment of belonging and safety to explore intellectual curiosity.” 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an Emory Libraries pop-up exhibit,” September 14, 2022.

Welcoming New Faculty: Q&A with Yami Rodriguez

In the fall of 2022 the Emory History Department welcomes Dr. Iliana Yamileth (“Yami”) Rodriguez, a historian of Latinx communities in the United States, as Assistant Professor. In the latest installment of our Welcoming New Faculty series, Dr. Rodriguez offers a glimpse into her research and teaching along with what drew her to Emory.

Tell us about the focus of your research and principal current project.

My research focuses on Latinx 20th – 21st century history, with a regional focus on Latinx communities in the southern United States. I’m especially interested in questions of culture, race, ethnicity, labor, and migration as they relate to Latinx histories and experiences. My current book project, “Mexican Atlanta: Migrant Place-Making in the Latinx South,”  traces the history of Metro Atlanta’s ethnic Mexican community formation and the region’s broader Latinx histories beginning in the mid-twentieth century. The book draws on diverse archival and personal collections, as well as original English- and Spanish-language oral histories with community members. 

Was there a particularly memorable moment from archival or field research that has had a lasting impact on your work or career?

When I started research for the dissertation-turned-book-project, it quickly became apparent how limited the Latinx historical presence was in Georgia archives. While there were some scattered collections that held primary sources related to Georgia’s Latinx communities, I primarily had to curate my own archive as I attempted to narrate this community history from a “bottom-up” perspective. Thankfully, I had the privilege of meeting and working with community members and archivists who were interested in developing archival collections on Latinx Georgia history. These kinds of collaborations have resulted in the donation of materials to UGA related to Mundo Hispánico and the Latinx (primarily Mexican) music scene in the Southeast, as well as the ongoing Latinx Georgia Oral History Project for which I conduct oral history interviews. It has been fulfilling to assist in preserving Latinx Georgia histories, and I look forward to continuing the work of archive-building at Emory. 

What sort of courses – undergraduate or graduate – are you most excited to offer at Emory?

I’m looking forward to teaching courses that center issues of ethnicity, race, and migration in US history. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to teaching courses that focus on southern and local histories. For Fall 2022 I’m teaching “Race and Labor in the US,” which is an advanced seminar for students writing original research papers. In Spring 2023 I’ll be teaching courses on Latinx and southern history. 

What drew you to Emory?

I first stepped foot on Emory’s campus as an undergraduate attending the annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference hosted by the Latin American Association. As a first-generation Latina raised in Metro Atlanta, the prospect of teaching Latinx history at Emory was academically and personally exciting. Today I’m glad to join an incredibly supportive history department that is home to wonderful students, staff, and faculty. En pocas palabras, estoy feliz que de nuevo radicó en Atlanta

Welcoming New Faculty: Q&A with Laura Nenzi

In the fall of 2022 the Emory History Department welcomes Dr. Laura Nenzi, a social historian of early modern Japan, as Acting Full Professor. In the latest installment of our Welcoming New Faculty series, Dr. Nenzi offers a glimpse into her research and teaching along with what drew her to Emory.

Tell us about the focus of your research and principal current project.

I am a social historian of early modern Japan. I enjoy writing history in different scales, from the very small (the life of an ordinary person) to the large (trends spanning two and a half centuries). I have written about travel culture, commercial publishers, space, identity, and about political activism in the nineteenth century. I have published two books, both of which put women at the center of historical investigation.

My current project is a history of the night in early modern Japan (1600-1868). It started out as an antiquarian curiosity: what happened in Edo (Tokyo) after dark? Through the mid-nineteenth century Edo, the largest city in the world, home to one million people, lacked one of the key features of the modern night: public illumination. At the same time, other elements associated with the modern night—regulation, consumption, imagination, and sociability—were firmly in place. This is where my antiquarian curiosity led to a legitimate historical inquiry, for Japan’s early modern night muddles the conventional divide between the pre-industrial and the modern eras and compels us to revisit assumptions about Japan’s modernization, technology-driven histories, and ultimately about narratives of the global nighttime.

Was there a particularly memorable moment from archival or field research that has had a lasting impact on your work or career?

Any historian will tell you that the serendipitous discoveries in the archives and the small things that escalate into something big are among the best parts of our job. For me, this happened as I was thinking about the subject of my second book, Kurosawa Tokiko, a fortuneteller, poet, and rural teacher who became a political activist in the 1850s. Her actions were ultimately inconsequential, and so she is not (or was not, I should say) a well-known figure in the history of late Tokugawa Japan. My first attempt to retrieve one of her manuscript diaries ended in failure, because, I found out, it had been destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of 1945. A librarian suggested I reach out to her descendants and found a street address where they could be reached. No email. So, I wrote and mailed a letter. This led to an invitation to visit her native home, which local activists were trying to preserve, and the local archives. I showed up expecting three or four documents, and would have been happy with that. They started bringing out the envelopes. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… at fourteen I stopped counting, they kept going. I knew right there and then that I had a book to write. To this day I remain friends with the people who helped me rescue her from oblivion. After the book came out, they used it as evidence that there is interest in her story outside the confines of her town and that her home should indeed be preserved. A win-win for everyone.

What sort of courses – undergraduate or graduate – are you most excited to offer at Emory?

There are Japanese History undergraduate courses in the catalog that I am inheriting and that I am very happy to teach, but I am most excited to introduce two new ones that have been among my most popular undergraduate classes at my previous institution: The History of Tokyo and The Samurai: Fact, Fiction, Fantasy. The department has a commitment to transnational, comparative, and global themes, so I will also be offering graduate and undergraduate classes that look at various interactions between Japan and the outside world between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Some of these I have done before, and some are new and based on very recent, very exciting scholarship that I cannot wait to share with my students.

What drew you to Emory?

The departmental and institutional commitment to and support for academic excellence. The freedom to discuss issues that, more and more, are being censored elsewhere as “divisive.” My colleagues in the department, some of whom have written books and articles I have been using for years in my classes, and my colleagues in the department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures. The possibility to train my own graduate students. Also, as someone who taught professionalization seminars for many years, I am in awe of Emory’s TATTO program and excited to be part of it. Emory’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion. The diverse student body. Atlanta. So, pretty much everything.

Emory Honors Lesser, Payne, and Suh for Teaching and Advising

Deboleena Roy (right), senior associate dean for faculty in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, presented the Emory College Award for Academic Advising to Chris Suh, assistant professor of history, during the college’s diploma ceremony.

Multiple History Department faculty were recognized at the conclusion of the spring 2022 semester with honors and awards from the university. Dr. Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and Director of the Halle Institute for Global Learning, was awarded the Eleanor Main Graduate Student Mentor Award. Dr. Matthew J. Payne, Associate Professor, received the Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Chris Suh, Assistant Professor, was given the Emory College Award for Academic Advising. Read about other honors and awards conferred at the spring 2022 commencement: “Faculty and staff honored for excellence in teaching, mentoring and more.”

Phi Beta Kappa Recognizes Emory History Faculty for Excellence in Teaching

The Phi Beta Kappa Gamma Chapter of Georgia at Emory recently recognized four History Department faculty members for excellence in teaching. The faculty members are:

The faculty members were recognized at the spring initiation ceremony on April 14, 2022.

Payne Wins 2022 Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

Congratulations to Dr. Matthew J. Payne, Associate Professor of History, on winning the 2022 Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. This award was established by Emory Williams, a 1932 Emory College alumnus and long-time trustee, and recognizes faculty who strive for excellence in teaching, curriculum development, pedagogy, and educational innovation. The award recognizes faculty members who teach undergraduate students at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Goizueta Business School, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Oxford College. Dr. Payne has excelled in fostering participation, inquiry, and creative expression in the classroom, exemplified the highest quality of teaching scholarship through teaching and mentoring students, retained a continual record of outstanding accomplishment and ongoing commitment to teaching, and made significant contributions that impact and advance Emory. Payne will be recognized at the 2022 Commencement ceremony.

Luke Hagemann to Discuss Compassionate Pedagogy as Part of Dobes Series for Excellence in Teaching

Doctoral candidate Luke Hagemann will introduce Laney Graduate students to the practice of compassionate pedagogy in an upcoming session titled “Practicing Compassionate Pedagogy in the College Classroom.” Participants will equip themselves with a framework for incorporating kindness into their course designs in order to make the classroom more accessible, supportive, and equitable. Hageman’s talk is part of the Dobes Series for Excellence in Teaching, which features winners of the Martha and William Dobes Outstanding Graduate Teaching Fellow Award. The event will take place via Zoom from 5-7pm on March 17, 2022. Find out more information below and here.

Lowery’s Indigenous History Course Engages Students in Spirited Debate

In her first semester at Emory, Cahoon Family Professor of American History Malinda Maynor Lowery adopted a novel approach to her course “Legal History of Native Peoples.” With the support of Emory’s Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation and Dialogue, Lowery embedded student-led debate into the foundation of the course. Through debate and independent research, the students and Lowery studied contemporary laws in the historical context of indigenous communities and their legal systems. Read the Emory News Center’s full profile of the course for more: “Indigenous history course uses debate format to create broad engagement.”