This year, I’m teaching one course at Harvard Divinity School while finishing my book manuscript, and it’s the course I’ve always wanted to teach: Women and Gender in American Catholicism. Check out the syllabus online and let me know what you would add — I had to cut so much good, new, work in this thriving subfield off of the official reading list, but I hope my students will make a dent with their writing projects!
This month marks the end of my two-year Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellowship at Bryn Mawr College. Twice a year, CLIR asks all fellows to report on our accomplishment, goals, and challenges, and I’ve decided to make public and expand upon my most recent entry, the exit report. Keeping a copy here, in my little corner of the internet, is a way for me to document the end of one chapter, and also provide future CLIR postdoc applicants a glimpse into the possibilities of such fellowships in the small liberal arts college context. [And if you’re reading this wondering about the many paths of the CLIR fellows, I highly recommend two blog posts from my cohortmates: Emily McGinn on the “interstitial PhD,” and Rachel Deblinger on alt-ac advocacy.] Continue reading “Exit Report”
Black at Bryn Mawr and other campus history projects, including those represented in our NCPH 2016 Working Group “Campus History as Public History” are featured in Corinne Ruff’s June 21, 2016 article, “Historians of Slavery Find Fruitful Terrain: Their Own Institutions” for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
When I talked to Ruff at the beginning of June, the most important point I wanted to stress was the variety of campus history models emerging; not every project comes out of an R1 school with a commission, faculty support, or funding. That there are, in fact, a growing number of student-centered models for this work is one reason I’m disappointed that Ruff didn’t name the founders of our project at Bryn Mawr — Emma Kioko and Grace Pusey — whose dedication, research, and creativity fueled this project from start to finish, even after their graduation.
The article is only available to Chronicle subscribers, but I’ve made a PDF available here.
In January, my public history class welcomed to campus Janice Nimura, author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back (2015, now in paperback!) — the rare mass-market biography that takes seriously, and as its subject, the lived experience of young women.
As Nimura writes this month at Lithub:
I always like the moment in my talks when I show a photo of the Vassar class of 1882, a gaggle of young bluestockings with one Japanese face in the middle: Sutematsu Yamakawa, the eldest of my three subjects, elected class president in her sophomore year! There’s always a gratifying murmur from the audience as I drive the point home: that’s how talented she was, how intellectually dazzling, how extraordinary in transcending her otherness.
But one afternoon my audience was a room full of Bryn Mawr students, and one of them raised her hand. Wasn’t it possible, she asked, that Sutematsu’s classmates had elevated her because of her differences, rather than in spite of them? Didn’t they think of her as a sort of samurai princess, and wouldn’t they have found it gratifying to show her off?
#HIST303, always with the good questions. (I’m going to miss this class.)
A topic I’m eager to explore in more depth is the built environment of religion on women’s college campuses — connecting threads I’ve pursued since my second year of graduate school, when I wrote pages and pages on the intersection of labor, education, and gender at Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for my religion and history classes while researching a seminar paper on Mundelein, Chicago’s “skyscraper college” for Catholic women.
As I work with the Bryn Mawr College Archives, and on the project team developing College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education (collegewomen.org) I often think of the questions that many of my students have raised about the role of religion in their college lives, and the ways in which religious and interfaith spaces on college campuses have developed.
Read more in my latest Religion in American History blog post, Finding Religion at College? Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education (10/29/15).
Image: Mount Holyoke College, 1940s, via collegewomen.org
Event Details: UChicago Leadership Lab, October 15, 2014 [link to Eventbrite]
This week I’m returning to my old stomping grounds, the University of Chicago, to participate in the Emerging Leaders Initiative of the Social Sciences Division. I’ve been interested to see how my alma mater is thinking about how graduate students should be — in their words — “developing expertise in a variety of different areas.”
The areas in which I currently work, public and digital history, are not ones supported by my graduate training, but reflect work experience I brought with me to graduate school, and continued to do “on the side” while completing my doctorate. In order to keep up with those fields, and to make new contacts, I made a concerted effort to get online during the write-up phase of my (very analog) dissertation.
As part of Wednesday’s roundtable, I’ve been thinking about the choices I made (and continue to make) about building a web presence and sharing my work with a broader audience. The following links are a useful reading list for graduate students weighing similar decisions:
- Miriam Posner, Brian Croxall, and Stewart Varner for ProfHacker: “Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics“
- Ryan Cordell for ProfHacker: “How to Start Tweeting and Why You Might Want To“ and “Creating and Maintaining a Professional Presence Online: A Roundup and a Reflection“
Finally, if you have lots of time to spare, a previous talk I gave on promoting your research in a digital age is online, here. Have any advice to add? Leave a reply in the comments!
* cross posted from Educating Women *
Earlier this month, I spent 10 days at the Council on Libraries and Information Resources/Digital Library Federation (CLIR/DLF) postdoctoral fellows orientation seminar, an experience many of us fondly termed “library boot camp,” and others “Hogwarts School of Data Curation and Wizadry,” given the setting here at Bryn Mawr. In its tenth year, the CLIR/DLF postdoctoral fellows orientation gave twenty-seven new fellows (the biggest cohort yet!) an introduction to theories and methods in library and information studies, and data curation. As recent Ph.D.’s in fields ranging from comparative literature to biomedical informatics and everything in between, we’ll be taking a diverse array of positions in academic libraries across North America.
This week, join graduate students and faculty at the University of Chicago conference “Invisible Designs: New Perspectives on Race and Consumer Capitalism,” organized by Ph.D. students Chris Dingwall and Korey Garibaldi. From the conference website:
This conference takes design as an object and a theme to gain new perspective on the study of race in American consumer society. How has racialized imagery sustained the work of capitalism and American dreams of the “good life”? Considering design in relation to problems of self-fashioning, material culture, immigration, urban and suburban development, and decorative commodities, we will engage with the latest scholarly conversations about race and capitalism and explore paths for future inquiry. Ultimately the conference aims to uncover the otherwise “invisible” cultural logics and historical processes that have woven racial difference into the fabric of American life.
I’ll be presenting some preliminary research on first communion portrait photography and the material culture of Nuyorican migration as part of the panel “Life Design” on Thursday morning, October 24. The conference and related exhibition, “Race and the Design of American Life,” will take place at Special Collections Research Center at Regenstein Library.
View the full schedule and register online. [link]
Yesterday, Lincoln Mullen‘s tweets (and some great responses) about sources for the study of “U.S. children’s religion” got me thinking about the ways in which the projects I’m working on increasingly flirt with the small but growing literature on religion and childhood.
Certainly, for the middle-class Catholics I study, providing children with new, distinctively “American Catholic” reading materials was the impetus for a wide range of new publishing ventures in the 1870s and 1880s. [Some readers will note this is also the era of the Baltimore catechism, published in 1885.] Right now I’m writing on Isaac Hecker’s lesser-known labor of love, The Young Catholic, a monthly paper for children founded in 1870, and edited by his sister-in-law, Josephine Hecker. Yes, that’s her here, documented in a 1957 issue of the Catholic comic book series, Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact (digitized by the CUA Archives).**
The Young Catholic provided children in Catholic academies and Sunday schools with games, stories, and the chance to see their names in print — all under the warm, loving guise of a fictional editorial family: columnists “Uncle Ned,” “Aunt Jane,” and a host of “cousins” meant to be understood by readers as running the show (and providing Josephine Hecker relative anonymity). But back to Twitter. Lincoln made a good point point — we talk about children in terms of education, but how are they understanding religion? How do they participate in the making of their own religious subjectivity?
I don’t have the answers to these questions yet, of course, but the other reason I’ve been thinking about childhood lately is a conference paper I put together for the upcoming University of Chicago conference “Invisible Designs: New Perspectives on Race and American Consumer Capitalism.” Thanks to a cache of found photography and a personal interest in midcentury Nuyorican memoirs, I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the visual and religious worlds of Puerto Rican Catholics in twentieth-century New York. At the conference, I’ll be speaking about First Holy Communion portrait photography, and the intersection of religious and commercial impulses in El Barrio. And now that the Archives of the Archdiocese of New York is back open to the public, this conference paper may spin itself into an article…someday. I have a dissertation to finish, after all!
** More interested in comic books? Check out Matthew John Cressler’s recent RiAH post, and join me at Loyola next Tuesday, October 15, where Robert Orsi will lead a discussion of his chapter “Printed Presence: Twentieth-Century Catholic Print Culture for Youngsters in the United States,” in Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America (2010).