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History Department to Offer New Undergraduate Seminar on Cold War Summits

As the History Department’s undergraduate students prepare their schedules for the Spring 2019 semester, they will find various new course offerings.

Among the new courses is an undergraduate seminar on Cold War Summits, to be taught by Dr. Michael Cotey Morgan. The course will focus on the major high-level meetings undertaken by international leaders during the Cold War, and it will offer students the opportunity to develop individual research projects that will draw heavily on primary sources.

By encouraging students to analyze the various summit meetings that took place during the Cold War, Dr. Morgan hopes to guide students towards considering larger questions about how countries engage in international relations.

“The broader purpose is to consider, ‘What’s the value of diplomacy more generally?’” Dr. Morgan said. “The Cold War is a great case study for this because there were so many of these summit meetings that took place and because we have rich, easily accessible documents on all of those cases.”

Students will spend each week during the first half of the semester analyzing specific summit meetings by examining primary and secondary sources together. During the second half of the semester, students will devote class time to workshopping their own twenty- to twenty-five page research papers on specific high-level meetings of their choosing.

“The first half will give them a sense of what they can write, what that sources are, what sorts of questions to ask,” Dr. Morgan said, “and then as we get closer to the end of the semester and the deadline for their final papers, it’ll be focused on producing drafts, analyzing the primary sources, editing each other’s work, and so on.”

The possibilities for students’ research papers are wide-ranging, as they will have access to a plethora of rich primary sources available both at Davis Library and online through government- and non-profit-sponsored digital archives. These collections include sources from the United States as well as translations of documents from the Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, and a variety of other Cold War players. Yet students need not be limited to translations.

“Depending on students’ linguistic abilities they can use documents in other languages,” Dr. Morgan said, noting the availability of French and German primary source volumes in Davis Library.

Dr. Morgan looks forward to guiding students through the process of undertaking an original research project. He expects students will find the writing process a challenging but rewarding one.

“It’s terrific to work with students and to see them doing the work of a professional historian,” he said. “Most students find it to be a challenge but I think they also, once they get to the end of the semester, derive a lot of satisfaction from having grappled with this intellectual challenge and succeeded.”

Dr. Morgan’s own research experience will undoubtedly prove a valuable resource for students stepping into Cold War summit documents for the first time. This year, he published his first book, The Final Act: The Helsinki Accords and the Transformation of the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2018). Based on his doctoral dissertation, the book documents the 1975 Helsinki summit, which brought together representatives of thirty-five nations and proved a pivotal moment both in the Cold War and in the history of human rights.

“This phenomenon of Cold War summitry is something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” he said, “and it’ll be fun to help students think about that too.”

Yet Dr. Morgan’s own research was not his sole inspiration for designing this course. He also hopes such a course will help students make sense of and evaluate current international events.

“Summitry has been in the news a lot lately, if you think about President Trump meeting with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore or Vladimir Putin in Helsinki,” he said. “I think we can illuminate the present, what’s possible, what can be achieved, what can’t be achieved, what the risks might be today. We can understand some of those things by examining these past case studies.”

On the whole, Dr. Morgan looks forward to guiding students as they seek to understand Cold War summitry, not only for its importance in its specific historical moment but also as a means to grapple with major questions that carry enormous consequences.

“What we’re talking about in this class are fundamental questions about war and peace, and in some cases, especially when you’re talking about something like nuclear weapons, the fate of humanity,” Dr. Morgan said. “The stakes could not possibly be higher.”

Department Welcomes African History Graduate Program–and First African History Ph.D. Students

This fall, the Department welcomed its first graduate students who specialize in African history. They will participate in the newest Ph.D. program concentration, which trains historians to undertake cutting-edge research and teaching in that field.

The three Africanist faculty members––Lisa Lindsay, Lauren Jarvis, and Emily Burrill––have wanted to establish a Ph.D. program concentration in African history for a number of years. “It was nice to find ourselves in a situation where the program was a long time coming in some ways, but we couldn’t really get it off the ground until we knew that we had enough faculty to offer the courses we needed. It was wonderful to see how supportive the department was in creating it,” Burrill said.

Each of the three Africanist faculty members works with one of the new graduate students. Emily Burrill advises Abbey Warchol. Both study twentieth-century Senegal and francophone West Africa. Lisa Lindsay and her advisee Emmanuel Osayande specialize in Nigerian history. Lauren Jarvis advises Laura Cox, who, like her adviser, focuses on twentieth-century South African history.

Abbey Warchol Emmanuel Osayande Laura Cox

Because they approach African history from a global perspective, Osayande and Cox are co-advised by faculty specializing in other world regions. Osayande works with Michael Morgan, a specialist in global human rights who can help Osayande expand the focus of his project beyond the borders of Nigeria. “I’m trying to look at the roles of NGOs in sociopolitical developments in post-1945 Nigeria,” Osayande said. “Moving onto the dissertation, I’m hoping to be able to explore more international NGOs. Currently my focus has been on local NGOs in Nigeria, and that has been because of constraints in doing the research. If you’re working with international NGOs like Oxfam or Amnesty International, it would require you doing research abroad, in several other countries.”

Laura Cox is co-advised by Claude Clegg, who studies the African diaspora, particularly in the United States. For Cox, the opportunity to work with co-advisors drew her to UNC’s program, as she believes it will help her develop the tools to undertake a transnational dissertation project. “I’m looking at relationships formed between African American and South African women,” Cox said. “I’ll be looking at how ideas circulated–on gender, on femininity, on ideologies of race–and how that changed because this was a transnational movement.”

All of the new graduate students have prior experience researching African histories, and two lived or worked in African nations before coming to graduate school at UNC. Abbey Warchol frequently traveled to Senegal for her job as a project manager at a child sponsorship NGO, which inspired her to pursue research on the history of sponsorship and symbolic adoption programs.

Emmanuel Osayande is a co-founder of Erudite Drive, an educational development and advocacy NGO in Nigeria. One of its projects is History Club, which promotes history education in Nigeria’s secondary schools. “History became an endangered discipline in Nigeria,” Osayande explained. “It was scrapped from the high school curriculum for several years, and it was just reinstated last year, after much pressure. What we’ve been doing is to get volunteers to go teach the students in secondary school history, and we’ve been making meaningful progress. For instance, the last school where we carried out our volunteer work, they ended up hiring a history teacher after because of the interest from the students.”

Although there are only three Africanist graduate students in the department, 10 students are enrolled in the inaugural African history seminar this fall. They include historians studying French and Middle Eastern history, as well as graduate students in anthropology, religious studies, and art history. Burrill was pleased to see the popularity of the seminar, as she thinks historians in many fields can benefit from studying Africa. “I think that taking an African history seminar, for someone who does not define themselves as an Africanist, is useful for thinking about broader themes of colonial, postcolonial, and settler history,” she said.

Abbey Warchol chose UNC’s graduate program in part because of this interdisciplinary community of Africanists. “From the time I got my offer, I was contacted by folks in the Anthropology and Art History Departments who study Africa. Right from the beginning, I was welcomed into this community that they told me was small but was close-knit,” she said. Warchol and the other new graduate students also work closely with the African Studies Center, which provides funding, support, and training to Africanists across many disciplines. For example, Warchol secured a FLAS grant to take coursework in Wolof, one of the languages native to Senegal. The Center, which Emily Burrill directs, also offers professional development seminars specifically for Africanists.

Although few of the students in their other classes specialize in African history, the new Africanist graduate students are able to have thought-provoking conversations with their peers in other fields. “People have experience with subaltern studies, so we’re all grappling with these same questions,” Laura Cox said. “I think the community here is very well-equipped to understand some of the broad themes and challenges of doing African history.”

Faculty Spotlight

Welcome New Department Chair Dr. Lisa Lindsay

On July 1, 2018, the UNC History Department welcomed Dr. Lisa Lindsay as its new Department Chair.

Dr. Lindsay, a historian of Africa, has been a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member since 1999 and has previously served as the Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and as Chair of the Committee on Teaching. Prior to joining the UNC-Chapel Hill History Department, Dr. Lindsay was an Assistant Professor at UNC-Charlotte and taught at University of Michigan, where she received her PhD in 1996. Although Dr. Lindsay’s research has largely focused on West Africa, her most recent work has explored the transatlantic connections between Africa and the Americas fostered by the international slave trade.

While the department may expect some changes as a result of the change in administration, Dr. Lindsay does not foresee the need for a major transformation. For this, she credits outgoing chair, Dr. W. Fitzhugh Brundage.

“Fitz was a great chair,” Dr. Lindsay said. “He left the Department in really good shape in ways that are both visible and invisible to most people. It has made my job much smoother than it would otherwise have been that he created and maintained robust procedures and structures for the Department.”

She noted in particular the strength of the staff, many of whom began working in the Department during Dr. Brundage’s tenure. “They are highly skilled and also really dedicated to making sure the Department works well,” Dr. Lindsay said.

Dr. Lindsay also spoke of the faculty as one of the Department’s greatest assets. UNC’s historians are well-published and highly respected for their research contributions in their respective subfields. While this is often the case at large research universities, Dr. Lindsay noted that the UNC’s History Department’s faculty is distinctive in its dedication to teaching and service in addition to research.

“It’s not always the case that the people who are experts in their fields are also dedicated teachers,” Dr. Lindsay said, “and I’m really proud of the fact that our Department takes public engagement very seriously.”

Despite these strengths, Dr. Lindsay noted that she and her colleagues on the History Department’s executive committee—Associate Chair Benjamin Waterhouse, Director of Graduate Studies Sarah Shields, and Director of Undergraduate Studies Brett Whalen—will be working to address some challenges the Department faces.

“The biggest challenge is declining undergraduate enrollments, which is part of a national trend affecting the humanities more broadly,” Dr. Lindsay said.

Maintaining and improving enrollment figures is crucial not only because the faculty values expanding undergraduates’ understanding of history but also because funding from the university rests largely on such statistics. Nevertheless, the executive committee has already begun to develop programs to draw students to History courses. “We’ve got some new initiatives that will be unveiled little by little over the course of the year,” Dr. Lindsay said.

The executive committee will also devote much attention to the problem of graduate student funding.

“We get fabulous graduate students who do terrific work while they’re here and go on to bigger and better things in spite of the fact that we offer pretty paltry resources, especially compared to our peer institutions,” Dr. Lindsay said.

Dr. Lindsay acknowledged that the Department’s ability to support graduate students is limited by the funding constraints imposed by College of Arts and Sciences and the UNC Graduate School in addition to its own financial limitations. Nevertheless, the executive committee continues to seek new methods to assist students through their graduate education and to prepare them for the job markets they will face upon graduating.

“We are continuing to think creatively about how we might offer more support to the graduate students and also how we might equip them for a diversity of careers after their graduate degrees.”

As a historian of African history herself, Dr. Lindsay is also particularly excited to highlight and expand the Department’s programs in Global and African History, even as she continues to promote its more traditional strengths in United States, European, and other fields of history.

“We’ve been teaching and practicing global history, but we haven’t really promoted it to the extent that we could,” Dr. Lindsay said. “It’s really special and sets our Department apart that we have a PhD in Global History, and we have a brand new PhD program in African History.”

Dr. Lindsay’s experience within the Department prior to her tenure as chair will prove invaluable as she sets the course for its future. Her service as Director of Undergraduate Studies and as Chair of the Committee on Teaching have equipped her with a thorough understanding of the undergraduate program and the work that graduate students perform as teaching assistants. She thus takes on her new role as chair with a strong sense not only of the difficulties it faces but also of potential actions that she and the executive committee can take to guide the Department in a positive direction.

Alumni Spotlight

Beyond the Degree: History Guides McKee Nunnally in Life, Career

Many students dread studying history, thinking it has no bearing on their lives in the present.

McKee Nunnally ’65 knows differently.

Nunnally, who earned his bachelor’s degree in history at UNC, has applied the lessons he learned in U.S. and British history to his career in business. The Atlanta, Georgia resident is a retired executive from the investment industry spanning 42 years.

Passion for History
Nunnally describes his experience at Carolina as a good one. He came to Chapel Hill having never been away from home, but he joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and quickly made friends.

Inspired by his high school American history teacher and mentor Emmett Wright, Nunnally also found a home in the department of history.

Three UNC professors who took history to a new level for Nunnally stand out in his mind: Frank Klingberg, who taught American history; James Godfrey, who specialized in Victorian English history from 1837-1901; and Stephen Baxter, who taught English history during the Tudor-Stuart period.

Nunnally remembers Godfrey as a “brilliant master of details.”

“He had all of the minutia down,” Nunnally said. “He knew all of the small things, like who the policemen, the bobbies, were named for. He made it interesting and fascinating for everybody. We even took the final in his course on January 22, which also happened to be the same date Queen Victoria died in 1901. I put that on my test, and he loved it!”

He recalls that Baxter was able to humanize that era of history, particularly with Henry VIII, encouraging students to visit where he lived, which Nunnally did when he was traveling in England.

“The central thing that each of these teachers did that helped you understand each era was that they humanized it—they portrayed the figures—whether it was Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Henry VIII or Queen Victoria—as real people,” Nunnally said.”

Classroom to Career
The lessons Nunnally learned in his history classes at UNC laid the foundation for his business career.

“The professors had a base of knowledge that conveyed the fact that these were real people doing real things,” he said. “When you went to England, you could visit and see where they lived. It helped to understand that in business, it’s not about computers, but it’s the people who run the computers and who run the businesses. It’s the relationships that people have with each other that are so critical.”

Nunnally has also seen sometimes-ruthless similarities in the history he learned and what he has experienced during his years in the workforce.

“What helped me most was understanding the people relationships, especially in the era of {William Ewart} Gladstone and {Benjamin} Disraeli under Queen Victoria,” he said. “Henry VIII was pretty brutal with people around him, and in the era I went through in the 1970s in the investment business, we didn’t behead people, we just put people out of business.”

His history degree provided the human aspect of business that the more technical side could not.

“When I got to Stanford {University} to work on my MBA, I saw a tremendous focus on academia and quantitative analysis,” he remembers. “It was very important to integrate the quantitative analysis with the people approach. You had to be able to express yourself to people at their level, on their subject if you wanted to be successful in terms of setting up and running a sales department. Sales is people—being able to understand people and being able to relate to them.”

He credits Queen Victoria as one of the best examples of this in history.

“You can see it now on TV,” he said. “She was head of a great empire.”

Returning Thanks
In gratitude for the influence that Carolina had on his life and career, Nunnally established an endowment fund to support faculty and graduate students in the department of history.

“Chapel Hill was an integral part of setting me free in terms of academia and letting me find where my interests were,” he said. “My wish is very simple—to return thanks to a department that made a difference in my life. You can’t be effective if you diminish your resources. If you allocate your resources to too many areas, it won’t help a specific area enough, so I’ve chosen one area.”

Given the significance of the past affecting the present, he wants today’s students to learn as he did.

“The history department should strive to continually update their offerings of courses to match what the students have an interest in,” Nunnally said. “European history in general is important. Russian history as well. I took that course because of what was going on at the time—the Cold War. I would think Chinese history would be important now. They will be our top competitor economically and politically in the next 100 years, so our students need to have an integral knowledge of China. It’s important to react to what’s going on currently.”

Catching Up with Christina Snyder, Ph.D. ’07

Since earning her doctoral degree from the UNC History Department in 2007, Dr. Christina Snyder has established herself as a leading historian of North American race, colonialism, and slavery from pre-contact through the nineteenth century. She is currently the McCabe Greer Professor of History at Penn State University, a position she has held since July of 2017. Dr. Snyder has also written two well-received monographs and co-authored a two-volume textbook of US History.

Upon graduating from UNC, Dr. Snyder received a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, where she devoted much time to developing her dissertation into a book manuscript. She especially benefited from the diversity of scholars at the McNeil Center.

“At that time, there weren’t many people doing Native American studies there,” Dr. Snyder said. “That helped me think a lot about audience.”

By 2009, Dr. Snyder completed her manuscript, and a year later Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Harvard University Press, 2010) was published. The book won several major prizes, including the James Broussard Best First Book Prize and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians First Book Prize. It continues to be assigned consistently in graduate courses on Early America.

“It was published really quickly,” Dr. Snyder said, “and I think that a lot of that came from the structure of the dissertation that I developed at UNC.”

Indeed, Dr. Snyder emphasized the strong mentoring she received from her co-advisors, Dr. Michael Green and Dr. Theda Perdue, as a major reason for the quick transition from dissertation to book.

“I found it to be a really supportive environment and I got a lot of hands-on mentoring,” Dr. Snyder said. “They were already helping me think about how to structure the dissertation so it could become a book.”

Her dissertation committee as a whole, which included Dr. Kathleen DuVal and Dr. Harry Watson from the History Department as well as Dr. Vin Steponaitis from the Anthropology Department, provided valuable insights that influenced Dr. Snyder’s work on Slavery in Indian Country. She noted, in particular, the value of her dissertation defense in guiding her work at the McNeil Center.

“I had all these experts from different fields providing feedback,” Dr. Snyder said. “They could all give me ideas for the book.”

After completing her work at the McNeil Center, Dr. Snyder taught at Indiana University for eight years, where she devoted much time to her second book, Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The book centers on Great Crossings in Kentucky, the site of a federal Indian school that brought white, black and Indian people into close proximity, fueling complex racial and class interactions. The project emerged from her research on Slavery in Indian Country.

“When I was doing my first book, I ran across a letter by Peter Pitchlynn. He was a student at Choctaw Academy,” Dr. Snyder said. “The letter described the conflicts he had been having with enslaved people, who had been enslaved to work in the dining hall at the school, and it basically captured this clash over class and race in the 1820s.”

Like her first book, Great Crossings was met with much praise. It received this year’s Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians for its contributions to American history and its literary merit.

With her second book published, Dr. Snyder has begun research for her newest project, Slavery after the Civil War: The Slow Death and Many Afterlives of Bondage. The project has grown out of her interactions with other scholars at conferences on the global history of slavery, a topic gaining attention in the historical literature.

“That story is really not confined to the antebellum South anymore. This was something practiced all across the continent,” Dr. Snyder said, describing bondage in such diverse places as California, Hawaii, and Alaska. “I thought one way to unite these different stories would be to look at abolition, basically thinking about emancipation as a Civil War-era policy that the US carried into the West and overseas, partially to justify colonization.”

In addition to her individual research, Dr. Snyder has coauthored a two-volume textbook American Horizons: US History in a Global Context, 3rd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2018), which covers American history from pre-contact to the present.

“So many of our projects are intensely individualized,” Dr. Snyder said. “This was kind of fun because I got to work closely with a group of people that I like.”
Although Dr. Snyder has accomplished much since her time at UNC, she continues to take pride in the History Department, noting in particular its leading role in advocating for the removal of the “Silent Sam” monument.

“UNC has served me really well, and I continue to be proud of the actions of the History Department,” Dr. Snyder said. “I have continued to admire the scholarship and activism of students, alums, and professors in the Department.”

Mr. Hevert, Ph.D.: UNC Graduate Reflects on Teaching High School History with a Doctorate

Increasingly, Ph.D. graduates are pursuing careers outside the academy–in the federal government, at museums and public history sites, in university administration, and at higher education consulting firms. Still, Ph.D. graduates rarely become high school teachers. According to one study, only two of the nearly 500 doctoral recipients surveyed taught at the secondary level. Joshua Hevert, who received his doctorate from the Department in 2016, is in this minority. He teaches history at Cotton Valley Early College High School outside of El Paso, Texas.

Hevert believes that many Ph.D. recipients would be a perfect fit for a high school history classroom. “No one can teach primary source analysis better than someone who has been through the rigor of a Ph.D. program,” Hevert said. “It’s really a natural transition to translate your experience as a teaching assistant into the K-12 classroom. You just have to accept that the way you teach the class will be radically different.”

When it comes to curriculum development, Hevert’s public school offers more flexibility than most. As an early college high school, Cotton Valley works in partnership with the local community college, where Hevert also adjuncts to supplement his public school teacher’s salary. Students at Cotton Valley pursue a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in parallel, which means that some of the courses Hevert teaches earn his students both high school and college credit.

Unlike many historians who work at colleges or universities, Hevert has few opportunities to engage his own field of study in the classroom. A former advisee of Brett Whalen, Hevert wrote a dissertation entitled “Orthodoxy Abroad: John XXII and Global Christendom,” in which he examined fourteenth-century Christian missionaries’ efforts to spread their faith beyond Europe. Today, he teaches introductory United States and world history.

The content of these dual-credit classes is similar to the introductory history classes that students take at UNC, according to Hevert. While Hevert’s high school students are prepared for the intellectual rigor of a college course, Hevert incorporates different approaches in the classroom. “High schools want you to be more a facilitator of learning than the sage on the stage, imparting lecture knowledge,” Hevert said. “When I started teaching I was told to run my courses like a college class. But a college class often consists of lecture, a couple of papers, and a test. In high school you need to do things that are student-driven, rather than teacher-driven. There’s a lot more support that you have to give the students.”

According to Hevert, higher education has much to learn from K-12 pedagogy. One example is the flipped classroom model that has become popular at colleges and universities in recent years. According to this model, students learn the historical context through assignments, and they spend their time in the classroom working on primary source analysis. In a K-12 classroom, this approach is “just everyday,” Hevert explained. “Outside of education schools, higher education is playing catch-up in some ways.”

To account for the differences in K-12 and higher education pedagogy, Hevert suggests that Ph.D. graduates pursuing careers in secondary education go through a state credentialing process, even if it’s not required. For example, when Hevert first entered a high school classroom, he didn’t realize that students would need help learning literacy, not just history. “Especially if you are in an area of low socio-economic status, you have to be a literacy teacher. There are gaps–big gaps–and learning how to teach literacy pays dividends.” He has completed the state credentialing process and has been reading books in literacy pedagogy.

Having the tools to teach literacy is especially important in Hevert’s school district, which is located near the border between the United States and Mexico. Many of Hevert’s students are not native English speakers, and 30-40% are DACA recipients, he estimates.

For Hevert, learning how to teach literacy has paid off. “It’s so rewarding that way, and you get those lightbulb moments more often, too. They’re learning words. They’re learning how to discuss complex ideas. They’re learning the historical context.”

History in Our World

UNC’s History Students Find Their Place in a History of Student Activism

There is a long history of student activism at UNC. In 1968, students successfully fought North Carolina’s ban on inviting “known communists” to speak on campus. In 1987, students pushed the UNC Endowment Board to divest from South African companies as part of a broader mobilization against apartheid. In 2015, students pressured the Board of Trustees to remove the name of a purported Ku Klux Klan leader from a campus building. Current UNC history students are continuing this tradition, and, for many, their historical training shapes their activism and advocacy work.

J. Davis Winkie, who was a scholarship football player at Vanderbilt University before beginning a PhD program at Chapel Hill, reconsidered his own experience as a college athlete after becoming a teaching assistant for Jay Smith‘s undergraduate course on college athletics. “It allowed me to place my personal struggle into historical context. It was when I recognized my place on a long arc of historical injustice that I resolved to take a step forward in my public activism,” Winkie said. “My love for history blossomed during my undergraduate years in spite of my status as a college athlete rather than because of it, and I want to change that for future athletes.”

Now, Winkie uses his platform as an historian and former college athlete to advocate for academic reforms and changes to “amateurism” rules, which allow athletics programs to make millions of dollars from athletes’ labor, but do not allow athletes to make a profit beyond their scholarship. “Under the NCAA system, athletes are ostensibly ‘paid’ in education (and sometimes go hungry) while working up to 60 hours per week on their sport. But too many athletes leave empty-handed after years of abuse and economic exploitation¬¬–53% of black male athletes fail to graduate here at UNC,” Winkie explained. Recently, he published an opinion piece in The Raleigh News and Observer and testified at the NC General Assembly’s Commission on the Fair Treatment of College Student-Athletes about these problems.

Many of the Department’s student activists are also historians of social movements. Isabell Moore, who is involved in racial justice, anti-police brutality, LGBTQ, and immigrant rights campaigns in her hometown of Greensboro, sees connections between her historical research and her activism. “Studying history has been really integral to me developing the political commitments and values that I try to live my life from, and then it’s always been a component of activist spaces that I’ve been in–there’s some kind of political education happening that involves history. I got to a point where I wanted to come back to school to do a deeper dive and be able to study more about social movements and the strategies people used, and understand more of how can we not reinvent the wheel today,” Moore said.

As a field scholar at the Southern Oral History Program, Moore has been helping other historians consider how they might use their oral history work to support movements for social change. Recently, she and a collaborator piloted a program for that purpose. “We developed a workshop that was specifically about community organizing and power, not to try to convince oral historians to become community organizers, but if oral historians can better understand what community organizers are doing and the way that they think about power and social change, then oral historians can better offer their skillset to those struggles,” Moore explained.

Other history students have gained insights into their own research through their involvement in activism, including Jennifer Standish, who studies interracial organizing during the U.S. civil rights movement. “In being a student activist, I’m learning all of the obstacles around student activism and activism in general that are institutionalized and structural, and just the mental and emotional toll that takes on people,” Standish said. “That has really helped me think about and empathize with my historical subjects in a way that I don’t think I would have appreciated quite as much if I wasn’t doing both at the same time.”

Since matriculating at UNC, Standish has become active in both labor and racial justice organizing on campus. She is a member of an at-will union of graduate and campus workers, which she sees as “a possibility to create broader worker consciousness and a cultural change at the university.” Standish also works with the student-led movement against the Confederate monument called Silent Sam. When the statue was still standing, students wanted to “get people to see the harm that the statue causes to students, and workers, and faculty of color,” Standish explained.

Standish and other student activists frequently relied on historical research to advocate for the statue’s removal. For example, volunteers handed out flyers to students and community members with facts about the statue’s history. Now the students are using archival sources, including Julian Carr’s speech at the 1913 dedication ceremony, to fight the statue’s possible return.

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Graduate Student News

Update from Sarah Shields, Director of Graduate Studies

This semester, we welcomed 18 new students into the Graduate Program. These remarkable new scholars come from the US and five other countries (Canada, Indonesia, Nigeria, Scotland, and Turkey). This is the first year for our new field in African history.

Our students have been on the forefront of change in the department and on the campus. They continue to organize a series of events that focus on the variety of careers open to Ph.D. historians; this semester’s event hosted Robyn Shroeder of the Humanities for the Public Good. Our graduate students have also been among the leaders researching UNC’s past, educating others about the consequences of that history, and using that knowledge to actively promote a vision of justice consistent with the ideals of UNC’s mission. At the same time, they continue to pursue their research into a wide variety of other world regions. This fall, the Department Research Colloquium featured graduate students Till Knobloch on the role of personality and irrationality in Nazi diplomacy, and Donny Santacaterina examining the form and function of state media in early communist China. Our joint graduate research seminar exchange with King’s College in London continued as Robin Buller, Larissa Stiglich, and Aubrey Langsdorf and three students from London shared their dissertation research with local audiences.

Please check out the new Graduate web site, and send in your news so we can include it.

Undergrad News

Update from the Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Brett Whalen

In the fall 2018, the History department inaugurated a new funding initiative aimed at fostering undergraduate research: the 398 Capstone Seminar Support Awards. These modest but important grants are intended to defray the costs of undergraduate travel to archives, libraries, and other historical sites, for the purpose of conducting research related to their 398 seminars. (Required of all majors, 398 seminars involve the production of a substantial article-length essays, based on original research with primary source materials.) The first round of awards went to Coby Devito related to his project “Roosevelt, Congress, and World War II: How Public Opinion Failed to Shape United States Foreign Policy Prior to the Second World War” (advised by Klaus Larres); to Robert Williams for his project “Focus on Failure: Why Focquismo was destined to fail” (Miguel La Serna); to Joshua Rodriguez for his work “Hope Through Defiance: Che Guevara and Latin American Autonomy” (La Serna); and to Kess Hendrix for her essay “Africans in Art: Visual Representations of Africans During the Slave Trade and Abolition Era” (Lisa Lindsay). All of these students carried out research at various locations in and around Washington, D.C., including the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Continuing its tradition of supporting our majors who study abroad, History also awarded fall Boyatt funds to Thomas Armacost for study abroad at the University of Oslo; to Jacob Koehler, at Lund University in Sweden; to Tyler Brown at King’s College in London; and to Julia Herring at UNC Montpellier.

Taking advantage of funding initiatives offered by the “Quality Enhancement Plan” (QEP), some of our faculty launched or began planning new courses that engage with the interdisciplinary, methodologically self-conscious spirit of the QEP. Specifically, three History faculty are involved in this year’s learning group for the “Research Related Skills” (RRS) courses. In fall 2018, Eren Tasar has been teaching a class on “Nation and Religion in Russia.” In spring 2018, Brett Whalen will be teaching a RRS course on the “Medieval University,” building upon the research questions raised in his team-taught (with Chris Clemens from Physics) First Year Seminar, “Time and the Medieval Cosmos.” That same semester, Ben Waterhouse will offer a RRS course “Taking Research Public,” that will guide students from various fall 398 seminars through the process of revising their historical essays for publication.

Gifts to the History Department

The History Department is a lively center for historical education and research. Although we are deeply committed to our mission as a public institution, our “margin of excellence” depends on generous private donations. At the present time, the department is particularly eager to improve the funding and fellowships for graduate students.

Your donations are used to send graduate students to professional conferences, support innovative student research, bring visiting speakers to campus, and expand other activities that enhance the department’s intellectual community.

Make a Gift

To make a secure gift online, please click “Give Now” above.

The Department also receives tax-deductible donations through the Arts and Sciences Foundation at UNC-Chapel Hill. Please note in the “memo” section of your check that your gift is intended for the History Department. Donations should be sent to the following address:

UNC-Arts & Sciences Foundation
Buchan House
523 E. Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Attention: Ronda Manuel

For more information about creating scholarships, fellowships, and professorships in the Department through a gift, pledge, or planned gift please contact Ronda Manuel, Associate Director of Development at the Arts and Sciences Foundation: or (919) 962-7266.