Dr. DeSilva Visits Bologna and Rome

Dr. Jennifer DeSilva and her son Jonathan in Rome

Dr. Jennifer DeSilva and her son Jonathan at St. Peter’s Square in Rome listening to Pope Francis

Famous Towers of Bologna

Famous Towers of Bologna

From June 2-19, 2014, I was researching in Italy; specifically in Bologna and Rome.  These were the chief cities of the former Papal States, which was the territory ruled by the Pope until the creation of the kingdom of Italy in 1861. Although all roads led to Rome, many undergraduates went to Bologna, which was the first university town. Officially called the Alma Mater Studiorum, the university received its charter in 1088 CE and has been conducting classes with regularity ever since. Bologna is a distinctive city, known for its love of food and dinner conversation, and sometimes called Bologna La Grassa (the Fat). The city is also known for the medieval fortified towers that still dot the city skyline and its porticoes, which provide refuge from the sun and the medieval fortified towers that still dot the city skyline.



I visited Bologna in order to use the Archivio di Stato di Bologna, the city’s state archive, which houses the papers of the de’ Grassi family. This research is part of a larger project about the de’ Grassi family that investigates how social mobility — movement from one social class to another — was engineered and produced documented effects on Italian families from the 1400s to the 1600s. Over the course of the week that I spent at this archive I read and photographed letters, dowry contracts, papal bulls, and countless other documents, mostly 350-550 years old. It was fascinating but dusty work!

Papal bull that legitimizes a priest's possession of a position at the church of S. Lorenzo di Cenachio from 1487

Papal bull  from 1487

After a week in Bologna I moved on to Rome, where I spent a week and a half in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and the Archivio Segreto Vaticano (the Vatican Library and the Vatican Archive). At these institutions I examined visitation records documenting inspections of churches, bulls that established the privileges and responsibilities of secular rulers within the Papal States (i.e., the Duke of Urbino), and avvisi (early newsletters that informed subscribers of current events happening in Rome and beyond). Although the Vatican does not allow scholars to photograph its manuscripts, which slows down the pace of work, one of the joys of working at the Vatican is the on site coffee bar, which sells cappuccino for only 70 euro cents!

Entrance to the Vatican Museums

Entrance to the Vatican Museums

Pope Francis giving his address

Pope Francis giving his address

When not working through boxes of documents and 500-page manuscripts, I braved the Roman summer heat to visit the Vatican Museums (not air conditioned!) and enjoy a Sunday morning speech by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

Clio: Summer 2014

Bruce Geelhoed contributed a chapter  entitled “’Oh, she’s a rather rough war, boys, but she’s better than no war at all:’  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Diarists of the Rainbow Division,”  in  Edward Lengel, editor, A Companion to the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, published in May, 2014 by Wiley-Blackwell.  The entry is chapter 12 of the edition, pp. 194-212.

Stephanie Beswick presented a paper “Dinka Resistance During the Turco-Egyptian war in South Sudan and Perceived Religious Power of the Mahdist Spears,”at the Sudan Studies Association held in San Fransisco, May 23-25th.

Yaron Ayalon has been spending the summer at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem and the Princeton University Library to research primary materials for his new book project about the Jews of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th to 19th centuries. His first book, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes, is already in production and will appear later this year with Cambridge University Press

In June, Ken Hall presented an invited guest lecture on “The Belitung Shipwreck in Wider 9th-Century Indian Ocean Context” at a Tang Cargo Workshhop hosted by the Asian Civilizations National Museum in Singapore; a guest lecture and following workshop session at the University of Michigan on “Secondary Cities in Oceanic Networks” at a World History Initiative:  The City Across Space and Time 3-day professional development workshop for secondary teachers of world history and geography; and a Water in Southeast Asia: Navigating Contradictions conference paper on “Commodity Flows, Diaspora Networking, and Contested Agency in the Eastern Indian Ocean, Circa 1000-1500″ at a two-day international symposium sponsored by the TRaNS:  Regional and National Studies of Southeast Asia Cambidge University Press journal hosted by Sogang University in Seoul, Korea.

Sergei I. Zhuk, “Soviet Studies and Cultural Consumption,” in The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War, Edited by Artemy Kalinovsky and Craig Daigle, (London and New York: Routledge, 2014), 351-368.  http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415677011/

Sergei I. Zhuk also presented a research paper “American Movies, Soviet Americanists and Moscow International Festivals during the Brezhnev Era” for an international conference “Cultural Exchange and Political Conflicts: Film Festivals in the Cold War,” organized by Hannah‐Arendt‐Institut (Dresden) / Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines (Versailles) (Leipzig, Germany, May 9-10, 2014)​

Clio: Apr 29, 2014


Dr. Stephanie Beswick is co-editor of The Road to the Two Sudans ( Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.) This collection of recent cutting-edge scholarship concerning the Sudan includes her own study, “The Role of Slavery in the rise and Fall of the Shilluk Kingdom,” pages 108-142.

Dr. Sergei Zhuk wrote an article, which is based on the material from his new book project, and is published in Paris, France:  “‘Academic Détente’: IREX Files, Academic Reports, and ‘American’ Adventures of Soviet Americanists during the Brezhnev Era,”Les Cahiers du Monde russe, 2014, Vol. 54, No. 1-2, 32 pages  See a link: http://editions.ehess.fr/revues/numero/lexperience-sovietique-a-son-apogee/

This is a summary (an abstract) of the article by Dr. Zhuk:

Starting with three Soviet Americanists in 1959, by the 1980s the Soviet-American academic exchange programs included 600 Soviet experts in American studies traveling in US on regular basis. These scholars became participants in the important cultural dialogue between Soviet and American societies, “opening” both societies to each other and widening their intellectual and cultural horizons. At the same time the Soviet scholars’ actions were monitored by both the Soviet intelligence and representatives of various US federal agencies. Comparison of Soviet and American intelligence information gives a unique picture of cultural dialogue during the academic exchanges in the era of détente from two different points of view.

Using the documents of International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) from the Manuscript Collection of the Library of Congress, the Soviet intelligence travel reports, personal memoirs, diaries, correspondence, more than seventy interviews, and concentrating on personal stories of Soviet Americanists like Nikolai Bolkhovitinov, this article explores a development of the cultural dialogue between Soviet and American scholars, so called academic détente, during the Brezhnev era.​

High School Students Visit the History Department


20140425_095550Many children are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  As they get older and begin High School, the answer to the question becomes more pressing.  They will begin exploring the possibilities so that they can choose the best college and degree that is right for them.  In order to help her Freshmen and Sophomore high school students learn more about opportunities in social studies, Michelle Subler, a Social Studies teacher at Wes Del High School and Department of History Alumni, brought them to the Burkhardt Building to speak to some of our faculty.  Dr. Michael Doyle, Dr. Sarah Drake Brown, Dr. Nicole Etcheson, and Dr. Kevin Smith took some time to talk to the students about what historians and teachers do on a regular basis, and Dr. Steve Radil from the Department of Geography also visited with them to discuss with them the possibilities within Geography.

Dr. Etcheson focused on the skills that students of history acquire during the course of their studies, and Dr. Doyle discussed possible career opportunities for historians.  Dr. Drake Brown took a different approach and used her skills from Social Studies education to question the students.  She encouraged them to reflect on the skills that are required to be a good teacher.

Afterwards, Michelle let the faculty know about the strong impression they had left on her students.  Some remarked that they could have spent the whole day with these faculty members, and others made up their mind to pursue social studies education.  It says a lot about our faculty that they were able to spark the interests of high school students and motivate them to consider careers in these fields.

Clio: Apr 3, 2014

Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Harold Holzer

Dr. Parkinson and Mr. Harold Holzer

Dr. Parkinson participated in the 150th anniversary of the Charleston, IL Riot of March 28, 1864 this past weekend in Charleston, Illinois. He spoke on Sunday afternoon along with two other historians (Dr. Robert Sampson of Decatur, IL and Dr. Robert Sterling of Charleston, IL – emeritus faculty member from Eastern Illinois University) on a panel chaired by Mr. Harold Holzer, noted Lincoln Scholar and Senior VP for Public Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. His paper was about the riot itself and was based on my dissertation which was about the Charleston Riot.

Ken Hall’s chapter “Revisionist Study of Cross-Cultural Commercial Competition on the Eastern Indian Ocean Coastlines c. 1000-1500 and the Wider Implications” appears in the newly published collected volume Vanguards of Globalization: Port Cities form the Classical to the Modern, ed. Rila Mukherjee, (New Delhi: Primus Press Issues in History Series, 2014), pp. 195-218.

Ken Hall presented a Huntington University Convocation Lecture with follow-up discussion on “The Islamic and Nationalist Legacy of the Indian Partition in Modern Global Context” on March 13, 2014.

Ken Hall presented the invited paper “Contested Histories of Ming Agency in the Java Sea, Straits of Melaka, and Bay of Bengal Region” on a “Revisionist Ming Studies” panel at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting in Philadelphia on March 28, 2014.


Clio: Mar 5, 2014

Ken Hall was in Washington, D.C. this past week serving as a reviewer of Asian studies applicants for United States State Department Boren Fellowships.  Boren Fellows will devote a year of immersive overseas advanced language study and research prior to serving in diverse foreign service and security posts.

For more information about this program: Boren Fellowships.

Clio: Feb 19, 2014

Sergei I. Zhuk, “’Soviet Young Man: The Personal Diaries and Paradoxical Identities of “Youth” in Provincial Soviet Ukraine during Late Socialism, 1970-1980s,” The Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies, 2013, Vol. 5, No. 2, 24-36

Sarah Drake Brown’s article, “A Systematic Use of Oral Histories to Promote Historical Thinking: Historical Thinking and the Iraq War,” was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Teaching History: A Journal of Methods. Her invited essay addressing the newly released College, Career, and Civic Life Framework and its implications for the teaching of history, “Historical Thinking: The Highest Form of Civic Action,” appeared in the National Council for History Education’s publication, History Matters! in December 2013.

Graduate Student Abe Schreier was invited to present at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Graduate Student History Conference: Racial Formation, Racial Blindness, taking place at UW-Milwaukee on February 14th-15th.

Ken Hall presented a St. Joseph’s College Lecture on “The Kollam Plates and International Trade in the Indian Ocean in the 9th-15th Centuries” on December 3, coincident with a British Museum traveling exhibit of the “Kollam Plates as Artifacts of the 9th-Century Indian Ocean Trade” that is currently on display in the  Ball State University Library.    During the week following final exams he served on a national Fulbright Review Panel at the Institute of International Studies in New York City, recommending funding for 2014-2015 Fulbright research scholars in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Dr. Hall also attended and responded to audience questions at a “book launch” symposium focal on his new book Trade, Polity, and Societal Integration during the Chola Period, 875-1279 in Chennai (Madras), India on January 7.  Senior Indian historians Venkata Raghotham of Pondicherry University and R. Champakalakshmi of Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) reviewed and offered extended commentary on his book as this led to follow-up discussion.    Following Dr. Hall presented an invited paper on “West Coast Indian Maritime Diaspora and the 9th-Century India Ocean Trade:  A Case Study of a Multi-Dimensional Port-of-Trade Community” at a two-day international seminar on Trading Circuits, Mobile Cultures:  Port-Cities and Littoral Societies of the Indian Ocean hosted by the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute in Mumbai (Bombay).  He also chaired a conference session and offered commentary on papers addressing “The Ambivalence of Mixed Identity.”

Clio: Nov 22, 2013

Dr. Ken Hall presented an invited paper on “The End of the ‘Age of Commerce?’ Commodity Flows, Networks of Trade, and Labor Circulation in the 18th- and 19th- Century Eastern Indian Ocean” as a member of a panel discussion of “South Asia’s networked maritime relationship in the 18th and 19th Centuries” at the annual South Asia International Conference hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison the weekend of October 18-20.

Dr. Sergei Zhuk published three essays in October 2013:

“Between Moscow and the West: American Studies in the Soviet Union during Late Socialism, 1956-1991,” in the Russian-German electronic magazine  Forum noveishei vostochnoevropeiskoi istorii i kul’tury (Forum for Contemporary East European History and Culture), 2013, vol. 10, no. 1, 259-284.

“Die symbolische Landschaft der Moderne in der sowjetischen Ukraine [The Symbolic
Landscape of Modernity in Soviet Ukraine],” in the Swiss journal Religion &
Gesellschaft in Ost und West, 2013, No. 10, 24-27 [in German]

“Soviet Society and Culture of the Cold War: New Trends in Modern Western
Historiography at the Turn of the Centuries” in Proshlyi vek (The Last Century),
Volume 1, Edited by Aleksei I. Miller (Moscow: INION RAN, 2013), 388-432 [in Russian]

Clio: Oct 25, 2013

Dr. Nicole Etcheson’s latest contribution to the New York Times Disunion blog, “Making War on the Draft,” came out October 18, 2013.

Dr. Nina Mjagkij, who serves as a scholarly adviser for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, attended an Exhibition Content Review Meeting of the museum’s inaugural exhibit, titled “Making a Way out of No Way”, in Washington, D.C., October 11th.

Dr. Stephanie Beswick’s co-edited book The Road to Two Sudans has been accepted for publishing by Cambridge Scholars’ Press. The volume includes her chapter “The Role of Slavery in the Rise and Fall of the Shilluk Kingdom.”

Dr. Frederick Suppe has been a member this semester of the Ball State Fulbright Fellowship committee, which mentors and screens student applicants before their applications are forwarded for national attention. He is also a member of the national Fulbright screening committee for Ireland, which will convene in New York City on November 20, 2013 to evaluate all Fulbright applications for Ireland and make recommendations to the Irish government regarding who should be awarded fellowships for Ireland for the 2014-15 academic year.

Additionally, on October 18th Dr. Suppe was interviewed about Halloween and its Celtic origins by Jerry Davich on his “Casual Fridays” program on Lakeshore Public Radio station WLPR, which broadcasts to northwest Indiana and Chicagoland.