Summer 2016 Newsletter

Department of History

June 2016

Chair's Welcome

As I write these lines, Commencement is only weeks behind us, and the bittersweet ritual of saying goodbye to our newly minted graduates remains vivid in our memory. We are tremendously proud of the accomplishments of these students, and of those who continue working towards their degrees with us. This Newsletter offers some glimpses into the broad range of activities, achievements, and honors of our students, faculty, and alumni since last Winter.
The Spring semester has also been noteworthy for multiple successful public events. Steven Conn inaugurated his tenure as the department’s new W.E. Smith Professor in American History with a scintillating lecture, entitled “Reckless Minds: European Ideas in American Politics.” Allyson Hobbs (Stanford University) engaged a packed audience with a tour of her award-winning book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. And the Colligan History Project completed a stimulating series of lectures on American Wars & American Life on the Hamilton campus.
The department also commemorated the career of our beloved colleague Andrew R.L. Cayton, who passed away last December following a tragic illness. A memorial event on April 5 highlighted Professor Cayton’s deep and lasting impact as a renowned scholar of early American history, a lecturer to generations of Miami students and alumni, an advisor of countless majors and graduate students, and a colleague, mentor, and friend to many faculty across the university and beyond. This summer memories and tributes will be posted on the departmental website

Wietse de Boer

To honor Professor Cayton’s example and legacy as a teacher-scholar, the Department of History has established the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund, announced elsewhere in this Newsletter.
Best wishes for the summer!

Wietse de Boer
Professor and Chair

Support the New Andrew Cayton Fund

Andrew R.L. Cayton, a much beloved History professor at Miami University, died on December 17, 2015 following a long illness. To honor his legacy, the Department of History has established the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund.

The fund commemorates Professor Cayton’s profound impact as an instructor, advisor, and mentor of generations of students in the History Department and at Miami University. The fund will support History students’ research, internships, and other opportunities to expand their education and to prepare them for a wide range of careers.

Donations can be made by clicking the red button below. Please reference “Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund” in the memo section.

Make a Gift

Graduate Program Accolades

The History Department’s M.A. Program was ranked number 92 among the Top 100 Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News and World Report.  The report cited the program’s features as “deliberately selective and flexible,” and noted the unique opportunities afforded students through the program’s connections to the Humanities Center, the Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies, and interdisciplinary programs across campus.

Collaborative Teaching: Food in History

This Spring, the History Department experimented with a collaboratively-taught, grant-funded thematic class about Food in History.  The course, coordinated by Dr. Elena Jackson Albarrán, was uniquely designed to showcase the faculty’s diverse geographical and methodological expertise. It was taught by nine History faculty members from the Oxford and regional campuses and featured four guest lecturers from other academic units or universities.

Organized roughly along chronological lines, the course began with an overview of medieval European foodways, and ended with the global industrialized food complex, traversing time and space through China, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Russia, South Africa, the U.S., and Mexico along the way.

Read more about the Food in History course here.

History Field Trip

On February 23, students from the Dept. of History's American West class visited two historical sites with their instructor, Dr. Andrew Offenburger.

At Pickawillany, a former Miami Indian settlement in the 1750s, the students discussed the links between history and memory with historic site manager Andy Hite and Director of Education and Outreach for the Myaamia Center George Ironstrack.

That same day, students learned firsthand about federal-Indian relations during the eighteenth century by touring the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, near present-day Piqua, Ohio (pictured above).

Student Mitchell Myers commented, “I loved being able to see old artifacts and tools that were actually used by the Native Americans hundreds of years ago. It really let me visualize some aspects of what their life used to be like.”

Student Spotlight

Mahaley Evans graduated this spring with a BA in History and departmental honors. Her thesis research with faculty advisor Erik Jensen earned her the first Miami University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE).

In the Fall she will attend Indiana University to pursue a dual MA/MLS in Russian and East European History and Library Sciences, in preparation for a career in museum and library work. We interviewed her about her experiences as a History Honors student.

Read about Mahaley’s honor’s project and about the work of her fellow honors students.

Alumni Spotlights

Robert J. Clines (pictured) received his MA in History from Miami University in 2009 with a thesis on the Jesuit order in sixteenth-century Rome (advisor, Wietse de Boer). He went on to earn a PhD from Syracuse University in 2014. Currently an Assistant Professor of History at Western Carolina University, he was awarded the 2016-17 Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

Learn about Robert's work, education, and career path.

Foy Scalf (MA, 2002) is the 2016 recipient of the Archival Innovator Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA). After graduating from Miami, he pursued MA and PhD degrees in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Scalf is currently head of the Research Archives and Integrated Database Project Team at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Faculty Accomplishments

This semester was again noteworthy for multiple faculty publications, awards, and other accomplishments.

  • Elena Jackson Albarrán was awarded a CFR Summer Research Appointment for research in Mexico on her project “Primitive Geniuses: Transnational Mexican Children’s Art in Discourses of Underdevelopment, 1930s-1950s.”
  • Sheldon Anderson published his book The Politics and Culture of Modern Sports, Lexington Books, 2016.
  • Tammy Brown was awarded Tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.  She was also the recipient of the Lavatus Powell Outstanding Faculty Diversity Award and a Global Initiatives Travel Award.
  • Wietse de Boer co-edited (with Annette Kern-Stahler and Beatrix Busse) the volume The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England, Intersections, vol. 44, Brill, 2016.
  • Nishani Frazier has been named a U.S. Fulbright Faculty Scholar in Norway for the academic year 2016-17.
  • Matthew Gordon will be Visiting Professor at the American University in Beirut, for the academic year 2016-17.
  • Steve Norris published the review article “A Biographical Turn in Russian Studies?” Review of Evgenii Akel’ev, Povsednevnaia zhizn’: vorovskogo mira Moskvy vo vremena Van’ki Kaina (Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 2012) and Owen Matthews, Glorious Misadventures:  Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013) in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 17/1 (Winter 2016): 163-179.
  • Marsha Robinson won the Miami University Middletown Excellence in Teaching Award (2015-2016). In addition, she was awarded the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education Grant (co-authored with Andrew Au), for “Virtual Study Abroad at Miami University Middletown: Short-Term Exchange of Scholars,” in the amount of $2500, in October 2015. Furthermore, she authored the following publications: “An Inquiry into Some Historical and Ordinary Reflections on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Southeast Asia/Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, December 2015; “The Love Story behind the 1846 Swiss Colony in St. Clara, West Virginia.” Swiss American Historical Review. Anticipated publication in winter 2015/2016; Review of Race and Slavery in the Middle East: Histories of Trans-Saharan Africans in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Mediterranean, edited by Terence Walz and Kenneth M. Cuno. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, November 2015“; and "John Adams’ Warning about Mixing Money, Politics and National Security,” Columbus African American News Journal (Columbus, Ohio), August 2015.
  • Helen Sheumaker wrote an online essay, "When Human Could Braid Two Hearts Together" for Zócalo. She also wrote an online essay, "Trendy Victorian-Era Jewelry Was Made from Hair" for, an online publication. In addition, Sheumaker taught Introduction to Public History, in which her students met with Oxford community members who brought in objects to share with the class, about which the students created online exhibits.
  • Susan Spellman published the monograph Cornering the Market: Independent Grocers and Innovation in American Small Business, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Andrew Offenburger was awarded a CFR Summer Research Appointment for research in South Africa on his project "When the West Turned South: Capital and Culture in the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, 1880-1917."