Erica Mukherjee (Ph.D. candidate) has just received a Cornell University Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship and will use it to study Bengali at the South Asia Summer Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin this summer. Congratulations!
The History Department offers a masters program that qualifies students for employment in a number of fields, including teaching and government research, though in past years a substantial number of people admitted to this program have ultimately gone on to pursue the Ph.D. As with the Doctoral Program, the Master’s Program accepts a limited number of students in the fall semester. Prospective students should be aware that funding opportunities for masters students are limited, as Graduate School regulations stipulate that students pursuing only a master’s degree in a department that offers a doctoral degree cannot be awarded a teaching assistantship or similar forms of funding. For additional information on financial aid for Master’s students, go to:
The Revised Master’s Program in History
The History Department has just revised its master’s program. What we have done is to create two separate tracks to meet the differing needs of our students:
Additional Program Requirements
(students in both tracks)
Oral Examination: By the time the student has completed 24 credits (e.g. fall semester of their second year for full-time students), he or she must secure the agreement of two faculty members (one of whom must be the student’s advisor) to serve on the orals examination committee. The advisor will examine the student in his or her major geo-political field (Modern Europe, Colonial North America, etc.); the second faculty member will examine the student in a complementary field (usually based on a theme seminar). The exam will be taken at the end of the student’s course of study. By the end of the fall or the beginning of the spring semester of the student’s second year (for full-time students), the student will present the members of his or her orals committee with a list of books and topics to be examined. Students may enroll in a directed reading (Orals Workshop) to prepare for the examination. Students are responsible for arranging a mutually acceptable date and time for the exam (and for notifying the Graduate Coordinator). The exam will last approximately one hour, and it will be graded as “pass with distinction,” “pass,” or “fail.” In the event of failure, the student may petition to take the exam a second time at a later date.
Thesis Option: Students may elect to write a master’s thesis. While there is no specified length for this, the expectation is that the thesis will be in the range of 40 to 70 pages. Students pursuing this option must enroll in HIS 586 (Orals and Thesis Preparation for MA Candidates) and HIS 584/585 (Directed Readings for MA Candidates). The thesis writing will be supervised by the student’s advisor, and—for students pursuing this option—a substantial portion of the oral examination will be devoted to the defense of the thesis.
Language Requirement: Master’s students with a concentration in European history must pass a written exam in an appropriate foreign language. Students in Latin American history must pass a written exam in Spanish or Portuguese. The other areas of concentration currently do not require a foreign language for the master’s degree.
Master’s Students Seeking to Enter the PhD Program: Master’s students seeking to enter the PhD Program must submit a formal application to the Graduate School. Admission into the PhD program is not guaranteed. Meanwhile, MA students are welcome to participate in all departmental activities.
Later this spring, Ph.D. candidate Gregory Rosenthal will join eleven other scholars from across the country to participate in the Cornell University Institute for the Social Sciences’ 2013 Institute on Contested Landscapes. Gregory will be presenting a paper titled “The Property on/is their Backs: Dispossession and Wage Labor in Nineteenth-century Hawaiʻi.” Gregory has also received two dissertation research awards for this summer and fall: a Michael J. Connell Foundation Fellowship from the Huntington Library in San Marino, California; and an Arthur J. Quinn Memorial Fellowship at the Bancroft Library at UC-Berkeley.
Raquel Otheguy (Ph.D. candidate) has just been awarded the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for the 2013–2014 academic year. This highly competitive program aims to identify the most talented researchers conducting dissertation research related to education. Raquel’s dissertation fellowship project is (tentatively titled) “Education in Nation, Empire, and Diaspora: Afro-Cubans from 1878 to 1920.” Congratulations!
Froylán Encisco has won a distinguished year-long (2013–14) pre-doctoral residential fellowship at the U.S.-Mexico Studies Center at UC-San Diego, where he will complete his dissertation on the local and global origins of drug trafficking in Sinaloa, Mexico, in the twentieth century. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Carlos Gomez Florentin (Ph.D. candidate), who has just been awarded the 2013 Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The IDRF Program supports the next generation of scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences pursuing research that advances knowledge about non-U.S. cultures and societies. Since its inception in 1997, the highly prestigious IDRF Program has funded more than nine hundred projects—more than twenty of them from Stony Brook’s history department alone. Carlos’s dissertation research focuses on the unintended environmental, social, and political consequences of dam-building for mid twentieth-century Paraguay and Brazil.
I’ll be giving a presentation at this year’s Susman Graduate Conference on my research into changing beliefs about magic and witchcraft in Enlightenment America (British colonial and early U.S.), and the links between these intellectual changes and the formation of national identity.
Accusations, trials, and persecutions of witches form a fascinating and peculiar episode in colonial American history, with the famous Salem trials as the most well-known example of what is often conceived of as a Puritan, New England, or 17th century phenomenon. However, the memory of earlier beliefs in magic and actions upon those beliefs still exerted influence over British-American colonists and U.S. citizens in the 18th century. A review of American magazines from this period reveals a continued, but different, preoccupation with magic and witchcraft. Elite Americans of this period thought about magic, but at a distance, with distaste and no small amount of shame. Published works repeatedly consigned it to a kind of local dark age; the colonial forefathers had to be defended from criticisms for their prosecution of witchcraft as a crime; and increasingly, magic became less a threat to be controlled, and more a mere “superstition” clung to by the “vulgar.”
A complex process was underway, by which early Americans disposed of their culture of magic, alternatingly forgetting and reconsidering it. Americans of the 18th century distanced themselves from their historical beliefs in magic, and then conceptually relocated this belief elsewhere, reattaching it to a variety of Others: the English, the French, Africans, Native Americans, and the superstitious masses, an “other within.” Through this transformation of memory and history, the myth of an ideal America – enlightened and reasonable, free of the irrational superstitions that plagued its past, its rivals and victims, and its own inferior members – was born. My upcoming paper on this topic will show how a sea change in early American perspectives on the supernatural influenced and constituted the formation of a U.S. American national identity.
The 35th annual Warren and Beatrice Susman Graduate Conference will be held on April 20, 2013 at Rutger’s New Brunswick campus. Its topic is “Myth, Memory, and History: New Approaches to an Elusive Past.”