History Department Award 2020

Freshman Seminar Prize

Cassidy Covan from Katherine Ranum’s course “Religion and the Body.” Cassidy’s paper, “Countermagical Practices and Protection from Evil,” analyzed the ritual and religious significance of the manner of burial given to the body of a young girl exhumed in 2010 from Washington Park in Cincinnati. Cassidy wrote a clear paper that linked some of the unusual characteristics of the body, which was buried prone, wrapped in a leather corset of some sort, and pierced with iron nails, to broader European and American burial practices related to popular belief in vampires and witches. Readers praised Cassidy’s paper for its fluent narrative and clear organization. 

History Club Leadership Award

Madelyn Iles, who ably lead the club as president in the Fall semester before traveling for a semester in Costa Rica, and Anna Sensel, who stepped into the leadership role and did double duty as treasurer and lead officer for the club this semester.Replace with your text

Hilda Smith Prize

Sara Bruner from Prof. Rob Haug’s class, for her paper “Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game: A Singing Slave Girl's Guide to Survival in the 'Abbasid Caliphate.” One of the readers reports, “This insightful essay investigates the question of enslaved women in history, with a particular focus on the cases of women in Baghdad from 750-1258 CE who were trained to be entertainers and concubines. To examine gendered enslavement, she demonstrates how some figures successfully navigated their predicament so as to "take advantage of a disadvantaged situation” and thereby find “a form of liberation despite not being legally free." 

George Newburger Prize

Bethany Johnson. Bethany’s paper, “The Wheatland Riot, The Wobblies, and the Workers,” focuses on the Wheatland Hop Riot in the Sacramento Valley in 1913. This unplanned and rare agricultural strike provided a turning point for the Industrial Workers of the World, especially after the strike became a riot that resulted in four deaths. After weaving together several compelling primary and secondary sources, Bethany explores how the CA Commission of Immigration and Housing investigated the deplorable housing and working conditions in the Valley and passed policies that led to greater protections for workers in subsequent years. Congratulations, Bethany!

George B. Engberg Prize

Reese Whitely’s paper, “The Trial of Charles I: Due Process and Legitimate Power” examined legal questions of intent and due process in the English Civil War-era trial of King Charles I." This led her to grapple with how scholars have interpreted the concepts of tyranny and legitimate rule in a time of war. Reese concludes that “Rather than praise the mere construct of the trial or the sheer length of the proceedings as emblematic of English justice, scholars should emphasize the lack of proper defense and the clear intent of Parliament to convict the King before the start of the trial.” 

Brendan McGreevy’s paper, “Confucianists and Counterrevolutionaries: The Philosophy of the Cultural Revolution,” examines the ways that the writings of Confucius were denounced during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. Brendan demonstrates that Maoists aimed not only to replace classical Chinese culture with Maoist socialism but also to validate his absolute rule by delegitimizing particular political enemies. Brendan also analyzed how Maoist narratives attempted to simplify complex philosophy into binaries of reactionary-and revolutionary, and good-and-evil. 

Lenore F. McGrane Prize

The Lenore F. McGrane Prize for Most Promising Student in U.S. History goes to Owen Schuh for his capstone, "Nashoba and “Utopia”: Frances Wright’s Plan for the Elimination of Slavery." 

History Department Graduate Awards

Herbert Shapiro Scholarship in African American History

Diamond Crowder has undertaken a difficult and complex task—to document and explain how violence against black women in the nineteenth century had specific and various causes—and was not just the result of generalized racism. through her paper “‘A Black Woman’s Body Was Never Hers Alone’: The Sexual Exploitation of Female Slaves in North America,”. The violence against slave women -- carried out by male slaveowners who profited from both illicit pleasure and the generation of more black children -- differed from the violence they experienced from white women, who had their own sexual turf to defend. It also differed from the inner-race violence a black slave woman experienced from fellow slave men. Using three autobiographies written or dictated by ex-slave women, Diamond lays down a framework for exploring violence against black women as a multifaceted phenomenon.

Zane L. Miller Prize

The first prize goes to Casey Huegel! In his prize-winning paper, "John Glenn and Working-Class Environmentalism at the Fernald Nuclear Weapons Plant," Casey analyzes and employs a wide range of sources, including Senator Glenn's papers and oral interviews from the Fernald Living History Project, to explore the forgotten history of this uranium processing plant in suburban Cincinnati. Casey argues that radioactive contamination inside and outside the plant sparked a distinctively Midwestern environmental movement, which forced the cleanup of Fernald and many other facilities in Ohio and beyond. The movement, led by Fernald Residents for Safety and Health (FRESH), also helped change the culture at the Department of Energy, which eventually took responsibility for the contamination and paid for extensive cleanup and for resident health monitoring. The activists, including many women concerned about their homes and the health of their families, and workers similarly concerned about radioactive exposure they experienced at the plant, found able support from Senator Glenn. This paper – an early exploration of Casey's dissertation topic –promises to add significantly to our understanding of the environmental movement, which has always been much more diverse and inclusive than its critics and its historians have recognized. 

The second prize goes to Abigail Carter-Stephanopulos for her excellent paper, “Comrade Sisters: Gender, Political Repression and the Black Panther Party, 1966-1969.” Abigail’s paper combines different methodologies and narratives from a variety of historical actors to focus on a hitherto under-explored topic: the frequency, nature, and impact of repression lodged against women in the Black Panther Party (BPP) from 1966-1969. She argues, “throughout the history of the organization, women in the Black Panther Party, like their male counterparts, demonstrated a staunch commitment and willingness to place themselves on the front line staring in the face of violent government repression”; and yet scholars have rarely mentioned or studied them. Significantly, she challenges the bias in current studies that focus on members in the central headquarters and its top leaders to provide experiential details of ordinary women in BPP. In examining the organization’s radicalism and the government’s repression, Abigail brings to light the deep racism and forms of domination that usually go undetected.

The third prize goes to Tony Russomanno! Tony’s elegantly crafted paper, “The Racialization of Italians in the Jim Crow South: The Hahnville Lynching of 1896,” focuses on the disturbing lynching of three Italian immigrants in a Louisiana town as a case study for exposing the complicated meanings of race in the US South during the Jim Crow era. Based on a close reading of local newspapers and other contemporary sources, Tony shows how white native-born southerners consistently defined Italian immigrants in Louisiana as members of a racially inferior and criminal community. As a result, lynching, a terror crime usually directed against African-Americans, could also be used against Italians. Tony’s work tells a terrible story through compelling and insightful prose, ultimately making the argument that historians should pay closer attention than they usually do to the way that regional variations of whiteness -- and of understandings of race more generally – impacted diverse immigrant communities. 

John K. Alexander Teaching Awards

The award for the John K. Alexander: Best Teaching Assistant goes to Tony Russomanno! Tony has been an exceptionally capable assistant and instructor. He is diligent and reliable in his duties, often anticipating what needs to be done. More importantly, he is intellectually engaged in the material we are teaching and eager to discuss it, with his faculty supervisor and with the students. He works well with students and has the kind of directive but the nuanced approach to evaluating the written work that really helps them master content and improves their writing. Tony consistently goes beyond the bare requirements of the assistantship, approaching the class as an opportunity to learn and engage along with the students. He reads assigned material and attends to lecture and discussion with care, offering thoughtful assessments and raising probing questions, linking material to work he’s doing in his graduate seminars, and his own project. Working with Tony feels more like a collaboration, than a supervisor/assistant relationship. He conducts himself as a professional peer and takes his responsibilities as a teacher and scholar seriously. He is also generous with his time and talents, which extends to helping his fellow TAs and serving as an effective mentor to other graduate students. In short, Tony is a dedicated, disciplined, bright student and an excellent teacher, who is an asset to our program and very much deserves this honor. 

The award for the John K. Alexander: Best Graduate Student-Teacher goes to Katie Ranum! Katie’s freshmen seminar, “Religion and the Body,” introduced students to a wide variety of questions on religion, gender and the body, disability, and devotional practices across the Atlantic World. The really exciting part of the class was the project she designed for them based upon a burial excavated by a historical preservation firm in Cincinnati in 2010. Katie arranged for students to analyze the material conditions, and also the historical, cultural, and religious implications, of the grave of one Jane Doe in Washington Park. Jane Doe was a girl in her teens who had been buried prone and wrapped in a leather harness of some sort; her body had been pierced by iron nails in several places. The mystery surrounding Jane Doe and the beliefs and practices that her grave reveals made for a compelling local history project for students. Katie’s willingness to be creative and take some risks in pursuit of something meaningful for them to work on speaks volumes about her excellence as an instructor. In class, Katie creates a productive and supportive classroom climate. Her teaching persona is warm and engaging as well as confident and knowledgeable. She has a deep concern for her students and does everything to help them succeed. Katie is an exceptionally bright, mature, and thoughtful Ph.D. student who deserves recognition for the level of commitment she has shown to undergraduate instruction.