December 14, 2019
VCU graduates have the opportunity to celebrate their achievement at multiple ceremonies. The universitywide Commencement ceremony will take place Saturday, December 14, 2019, 10 a.m.-noon at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The College of Humanities and Sciences ceremony for the Department of History will also take place on Saturday, December 14, 2019. It will start at 1:30 p.m. at the VCU W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts. Graduates are encouraged to invite friends and family members to attend. Tickets are not required. At this ceremony, graduates are recognized individually, with their name announced during the ceremony as they walk across the stage. We ask that graduates arrive by 1:00 p.m. to fill out an information card and be placed in line for the procession.
Announcing the First Annual Harold and Laura Greer Lecture
November 20, 2019
On November 20, 2019 Professor Martha Few of Penn State University's history department presented Battling Locust Swarms in Colonial New Spain at the First Annual Harold and Laura Greer Lecture.
Starting in the 1680s and continuing through the 1830s, the archival record shows that locust swarms in the region of what is now Central America and southern Mexico (Chiapas and Oaxaca) intensified in frequency, duration, and geographic scope. Few's research demonstrates the correlation with locust invasions to famine and disease. Her talk brought to life the hopelessness and helplessness that people felt in attempting to eradicate the swarms. Despite the despair, public officials at the time continued to experiment with new methods of extermination, as well as means to diversify and double crop output in the hopes that the locusts would not eat them all. Few's research is on-going, and she noted that there is still much to explore in the archival records.
This event was made possible through the generous support of Harold and Laura Greer, who provided an endowment to establish the Dr. and Mrs. Harold Greer Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Latin American History which also funds an annual lecture focusing on Latin American history.
Tonight, Washington comes to Madea
November 20, 2019
Professor Emilie Raymond writes about Tyler Perry's media empire, and how he came to host the November 20 Democratic debate. Her article, Tonight, Washington comes to Madea, is featured as a perspective piece in the Washington Post. Tyler Perry's studio in Atlanta is the first major film studio owned by an African American. And November 20, Raymond writes, "marks the first national political debate held at a film studio, as well as Perry’s ascendancy as a major player in American political culture." Read the full article here.
Beyond Jamestown: Why 1619 Matters in African and Atlantic World Contexts
November 13, 2019
On November 13, Robert Trent Vinson, the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of History and Africana Studies at William and Mary visited VCU to discuss how the story of the 1619 trans-Atlantic journeys of “20 and odd Negroes” does not begin with Jamestown. His research reveals that other English colonies like Bermuda and Barbados were far more significant in England’s rapid rise as the world’s leading slave trading nation in the 18th century. In addition, Vinson compelled the audience to think about the history of the African people prior to enslavement and the human toll of the forced migration of approximately 12.5 million enslaved Africans to the Americas between 1502 and 1870.
The lecture was presented by the Alexandrian Society at VCU with the support of the Department of History and the Student Government Association.
Society of the Cincinnati Annual Lecture: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and the Origins of American Political Asylum
October 14, 2019
Award-winning author and University Distinguished Professor of history at Virginia Tech, A. Roger Ekirch, visited VCU on October 14 to present Mutiny, Martyrdom, and the Origins of American Political Asylum. The free lecture was made possible by the generous support of the Society of the Cincinnati in the state of Virginia – the statewide branch of the nation’s oldest patriotic organization.
Professor Ekirch’s presentation was based his historical research into the controversial case of an accused mutineer, John Robbins (aka Robert Nash), who requested political asylum in the United States in 1799. Ekirch demonstrated the impact of President John Adams’ decision to allow the British government to extradite Robbins. When the British admiralty court tried him and found him guilty, it not only had Robbins executed, but displayed his corpse in public as a deterrent to other potential mutineers. Americans’ anger at his execution and Adams’ perceived submission to the British government helped to decide the tumultuous presidential election of 1800, when Adams lost to Thomas Jefferson. Equally important, the case was invoked for decades and spurred America’s policy of providing political asylum to foreign refugees.
“With the aftershocks of the execution came a growing consensus that the executive branch should not be able to extradite Americans to foreign powers,” Ekirch explained. Eventually, because of the events that occurred after the mutiny, political asylum became the standard in the 1840’s until about 1981 when former President Ronald Reagan, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pushed a new accord that gutted political asylum.
The lecture was attended by over 80 VCU students, faculty, staff, and community members, including members of the Society of the Cincinnati.
“A liberal arts education is so critical in today’s world,” said Society member William Longan. “Companies can help you to learn the skills you need to do your job, but they cannot teach you how to think.” That is one of the reasons why the Society sponsors a variety of engaging, educational events throughout the state. This event was the 10th annual lecture hosted by the Department of History at VCU.
Visiting Author Packs a Crowd at VCU to Discuss Rethinking Rufus
September 26, 2019
On September 27, Thomas A. Foster, author of Rethinking Rufus: Sexual Violations of Enslaved Men, visited the VCU campus to discuss how the conditions of slavery gave rise to a variety of forms of sexual assault and exploitation that affected all members of the community. Over 70 VCU students, faculty, staff, and community members attended.
At the start of the discussion, history professor Carolyn Eastman said, “We know a lot about enslaved women being sexually abused. Historical information about sexual abuse of enslaved men is harder to come by.”
The discussion centered on Foster’s research into the topic of coerced reproduction of enslaved people, and how enslaved men’s role in that reproduction divided them from their communities. Using dozens of sources, he showed vividly how devastating that division could be.
Celebrating 25 Years of High Standards and a Supportive Learning Environment M.A. in History Program
September 21, 2019
On September 21, 2019 the History Department celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the M.A. Program in History with alumni, retired professors, and current faculty and students.
The event began with a walking tour of the Monroe Park Campus led by Professor John Kneebone. Attendees were treated to Professor Kneebone's extensive historical insight into a variety of locations across campus, including Monroe Park, Altria Theatre, the Singleton Center, the Pollak Building, the Cabell Library, the location where the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was formed, and many more.
At the subsequent luncheon, director of graduate studies Professor Emilie Raymond facilitated a panel discussion featuring Professor George Munro, History M.A. alums Michael Lynch (class of 2001) and Kerry Dahm (class of 2013), and current History M.A. student Peighton Young. Professor Munro described the founding of the program, and how it has grown and thrived over the last twenty-five years.
NEH Grant Will Bring Teachers to VCU to Learn About School Desegregation
September 5, 2019
Professor Brian Daugherity is a co-recipient of a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities to lead workshops titled “The Long Road from Brown: School Desegregation in Virginia.”
“To receive funding to offer workshops on school desegregation in Virginia is a true honor,” Daugherity said. “I am very much looking forward to developing and implementing a program that will be useful for our teacher participants and accomplish the goals set out by the NEH.”
Read the VCU news story for more information.
John Kneebone Received Excellence Award
August 29, 2019
On August 29, six distinguished faculty were recognized for teaching, scholarship and service achievement at Virginia Commonwealth University’s 37th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation. Among the honoree's is recently retired history professor John Kneebone. He received the University Award for Excellence. History graduate program alumna Emma Ito states, "I am so incredibly thankful that Dr. Kneebone was a mentor of mine. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for him setting up my graduate internship at the Library of Virginia!"
Read the VCU news story about John Kneebone's award for more information.
Can Indigenous knowledge rooted in the deep past help address climate change?
August 28, 2019
As part of his four-year Global Professorship in England, Gregory Smithers will undertake a research project exploring how threats to our well-being posed by climate change can be addressed by drawing on Indigenous knowledge rooted in the deep past.
Read the VCU news story about Greg Smithers for more information.