Stephen Norris with Renee Baernstein
Prof. Stephen Norris receives CAS Distinguished Educator Award from Assoc. Dean and Prof. Renee Baernstein
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Upham Hall - Fall
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.
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Chair's Welcome
Wietse de Boer
Dear Alumni and Friends:
As the Fall draws to a close, I am delighted to offer you some glimpses into the broad range of activities of our students and faculty over the past few months. The summer was a period of many extracurricular activities. A group of history faculty participated in the Faculty Fellows Program of Miami’s Howe Center for Writing Excellence to develop new projects to enhance writing instruction in history classrooms. Thanks to the generous support of Miami alumnus Lee Fisher, several students were able to participate in the annual conference on the Civil War at Gettysburg College.
During the Fall semester, the History Department, with the support of the Phi Alpha Kappa Society, hosted the leading cultural historian, Thomas Laqueur (University of California-Berkeley). Professor Laqueur gave a well-attended lecture, visited several classes, and shared meals with students and faculty alike. We marked the fifth centenary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses with a symposium on the Reformation and its complex influence on the modern world. In our classrooms, too, we continued to explore history in new and exciting ways: you may enjoy the online exhibition on Oxford’s Doty Settlement Cemetery produced by Dr. Helen Sheumaker’s public history students. Several history faculty received important recognitions for teaching (Dr. Stephen Norris) and research (Dr. Kimberly Hamlin).
This year, I am pleased to say, we have been able to make the inaugural award for student research and career advancement from the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund. This fund was set up last year to honor Professor Cayton’s long career and enduring legacy at Miami University. Our BA/MA student Kaylie Schunk, who explores Ohio River Valley history in colonial times and the early Republic, was deservedly the first recipient of this grant. You can read her account of her research and professional development activities in this Newsletter.
The department is most grateful to the numerous donors who have helped us to get the Cayton Fund to this point. Kaylie’s work, and that of future awardees, would not be possible without you. As we continue to support our best students in the coming years, we hope that the Cayton Fund may grow into an endowed fund. We are moving in that direction, but still have some way to go!
You may find more of interest in the new issues of two online journals promoted by the History Department. Journeys into the Past features undergraduate student research and class work. Origins, a collaborative project with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, offers historical perspectives on many pressing contemporary issues. For additional stories, news updates, and pictures please check out the Department’s new Facebook page!
On behalf of the History Department, I send you our best wishes for the holiday season. We look forward to being in touch again in the new year.
Wietse de Boer
Professor and Chair
Observing 500 years since Martin Luther's Landmark 95 Theses
In 1517, Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church and in turn began the revolutionary Protestant Reformation throughout Germany and Europe. Now, in 2017, the Reformation's effects are still significant and shape religion throughout the world.
In honor of Martin Luther's work, the Department of History hosted a free public symposium entitled Reformations of the Sixteenth Century: Martin Luther and His World, 500 Years Later November 2-3 at the Miami Art Museum. Read more.
Crossing Thresholds: History faculty innovate writing and teaching
“It was really helpful to be a student again,” says Assistant Professor of History Lindsay Schakenbach Regele. “I understood what a student feels like when they're being taught something new, when they're doing group work, when they're trying to learn new things—all of that was very powerful.”
“Yeah, it was,” echoes Associate Professor Daniel Prior. “It was powerful.”
After they graduated from the Howe Faculty Writing Fellows program, I interviewed Schakenbach Regele, Prior, and their colleagues, Associate Professor Erik Jensen and Professor and Chair Wietse de Boer, about their experiences. The faculty were part of a team of four from the History department who attended the Howe Faculty Writing Fellows program in Summer 2017. Read more.
Nation and identity in the Ohio River Valley
A Report by the First Cayton Award Winner
This year Kaylie Schunk, a student in the History Department’s combined BA/MA program, was the first to win an award from the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund, whose goal is to support student scholarship and career development. The fund was started in 2016 to honor the legacy of Distinguished University Professor Andrew R.L. Cayton (1954-2015). Schunk’s account of her research activities follows below.
Kaylie Schunk
With his pioneering work on the Old Northwest Territory, Dr. Andrew Cayton breathed new life into the history of the Midwest, which had long been overshadowed by the East and West coasts. He was able to convey the importance of this history to his students, so they could walk outside Upham Hall and wonder who had walked this land before them. I often do so, too, since I specialize in the history of the American West, especially the Ohio River Valley.
My current research for my Honor’s Thesis examines the understandings of nation and identity of the Myaamia (Miami) and the early U.S. Federal Government following British expansion into this region after the Seven Years’ War. In particular, I am investigating how the United States and the Myaamia each sought to assert their positions as legitimate states, and how political and philosophical ideologies, spirituality, and culture divided the two parties, causing them to discover and assert their national identities.
The Cayton Memorial Fund has allowed me to consult precious sources in the Edward E. Ayer Collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago. These documents, ranging from eighteenth-century letters to settlers’ diaries, illuminate early pioneers’ perceptions of Native Americans and how they interacted with one other. They support Cayton’s argument that Native Americans and Euromericans did indeed find a mutual understanding. I also found primary sources that give insight into the American settlers’ perceptions of the contemporary political climate.
In addition, the Cayton Award enabled me to attend the 2017 Western History Association’s Conference in San Diego. There I met with scholars who provided valuable feedback on my work, and I developed connections with fellow graduate students. Lectures and other events updated me on the current state of the field and enhanced my sense of what it means to be a practicing professional historian, not just a student in the classroom. A meeting with Patricia Limerick, a founder of the modern field of Western History, was especially touching. Dr. Limerick was being honored for the thirtieth anniversary of her pathbreaking book, The Legacy of Conquest, yet she took ample time to speak with me as I nervously told her how much I admired her work. Upon hearing about my Cayton Award, she hugged me and said, “This is because you are carrying on Andrew’s legacy.”
Stephen Norris receives 2017 College of Arts and Science Distinguished Educator Award
Stephen Norris, professor of history and interim director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, has been with Miami for 15 years since arriving in the fall of 2002. His courses range from introductory world and European history to graduate seminars. He draws on sensory experiences including film, visual arts, food, space, and physical presence to lead students into past worlds and build empathy across time and space. Read more.
Renowned historian Thomas Laqueur visits the History Department
On October 30-31, the Miami University History Department hosted Professor Thomas Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley. Besides visiting several history classes, Professor Laqueur gave a public lecture, entitled "Bodies Visible and Invisible: The Necro-Politics of the Jewish Cemetery in the Life of Modern Thessaloniki," which drew an audience of about 100 Miami students and faculty. Read more.
History students create online exhibit on the Doty Settlement Cemetery
Students in Dr. Helen Sheumaker’s Public History course researched the lives of all men and women buried in Oxford’s historic Doty Settlement Cemetery between 1844 and 1929. The results of their work have been published by the Oxford Museum Association in the form of a blog exhibition.
Miami students and alumnus participate in Gettysburg's Civil War Institute  
Lee Fisher with students at Civil War Institute
Three Miami undergraduates co-organized a panel with the History Department on October 17 to share what they had learned and experienced over the course of their weeklong participation in June in Gettysburg College’s famous Civil War Institute, one of the country’s most popular and widely attended annual conferences on the history of the American Civil War.
After a brief opening statement by the History Department’s own Professor Martin Johnson, who had also attended this summer’s Institute to give the keynote address on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, each undergraduate offered a ten-minute overview of one important figure from the Civil War. Samantha Leone spoke about Clara Barton, the pioneering nurse and founder of the American Red Cross; Brittany Von Kamp discussed President Lincoln and his framing of the Gettysburg Address; and Kyle Smith talked about the Confederate cavalry commander John Singleton Mosby.
Lee Fisher, the Miami alumnus who, in conjunction with the History Department, had generously underwritten the expenses for the three students to attend the 2017 Civil War Institute, then gave a presentation about George Armstrong Custer’s role in the Civil War and closed the evening’s program by offering a brief overview of the Institute itself and encouraging those with an interest in the Civil War to attend.
Heather Burich
Kimberly Hamlin
Student Spotlight: Heather Burich (Class of 2019)
"Don't listen to other people who tell you that the humanities are a waste of time. Passion is what will get you where you want to be in life, and I have found that and more studying the liberal arts!"
Faculty Spotlight: Kimberly Hamlin receives NEH Public Scholar Award
Kimberly Hamlin, associate professor of history and global & intercultural studies, has been awarded with a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her biography of suffragist Helen Hamilton Gardener, Woman Citizen. Read more.
Faculty Accomplishments
Dr. Elena Jackson Albarrán’s article, “Los niños colaboradores de la revista Pulgarcito y la construcción de la infancia, México 1925-1932,” Iberoamericana, XV, no. 60, 2015, received an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Fass-Sandin Prize for the Best Article on the History of Childhood and Youth (Society for the History of Children and Youth).
Dr. Sheldon Anderson’s book, The Forgotten Legacy of Stella Walsh: The Greatest Female Athlete of Her Time, appeared in Fall 2017 with Rowman & Littlefield.
Dr. Steven Conn delivered the Eda Diskant Memorial lecture, entitled “The Encyclopedia, the Museum and the Collection,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on November 3, 2017. Earlier in the Fall, he gave the keynote lecture, "Where Have All the Objects Gone?," at the All Icelandic Museums Conference in Siglufjörður, Iceland.
Dr. Wietse de Boer published “Reformations and Counter-Reformations: The Contested Terms of Reformation History,” in Martin Luther: A Christian between Reforms and Modernity, 1517-2017, ed. Alberto Melloni (De Gruyter 2017); the work also appeared in German and Italian translations. Another book chapter, “Figments of the Imagination: Medical and Moral Discourses on Love in the Counter-Reformation,” appeared in Ut pictura amor: The Reflexive Imagery of Love in Artistic Theory and Practice, 1500-1700, ed. Walter S. Melion, Joanna Woodall, and Michael Zell (Brill, 2017).
Dr. Matthew S. Gordon is the editor, with Kathryn A. Hain, of the volume, Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History (Oxford University Press, 2017) and, with Chase F. Robinson, Everett K. Rowson and Michael Fishbein, of the three-volume work, The Works of Ibn Wādih al-Ya’qūbī: An English Translation (Brill, 2017).
Dr. Stephen Norris published “Revising History, Remaking Civil War Heroes: Russian Cinema and the Civil War, 1953-2014,” in Ruptures and Continuities in Soviet/Russian Cinema: Auteurs, Characters, and Genres Before and After the Soviet Collapse, ed. Eugenie Zvonkine and Birgit Beumers (Routledge, 2017) and “Funérailles cinématographiques: L’Amiral (2008), Koltchak et les usages de l’Histoire dans le cinéma russe contemporain” [“Cinematic Burial: Admiral Kolchak and the Use of History in Contemporary Russian Cinema”] in Le cinéma russe contemporain, (r)évolutions, ed. Eugénie Zvonkine, (Presses du Septentrion, 2017). On November 30, 2017, he gave the Dever Lecture at Lafayette College on “Blockbuster History in the New Russia 2 – Politics, Memory, and History in the Era of Putin 2.0.”
Dr. Helen Sheumaker is the author of Artifacts from Modern America (ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press, 2017) and, with Jacqueline Johnson (Director of Miami University Archives and Western College for Women Archives), “Connecting the Threads: Using Pinterest to Create Stories from the Archives,” in Archival Outlook (November-December 2017).
Dr. Susan Spellman published the article “Where are the Managers? Reevaluating Large-Scale US Retail Systems and Their Coordinators,” History of Retailing and Consumption (advance publication online November 23, 2017).
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