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April 2011


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Tracy L Fisher <[log in to unmask]>
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Tracy L Fisher <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 26 Apr 2011 09:28:09 -0400
Dissertation topics sent to date are both below and (thanks to a good suggestion) attached in the current version of Word to avoid some of the formatting issues that were in the e-mail before.


Jon Barth
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For my dissertation I am interested in popular debates over money and banking in the early American Republic. Questions over who should issue the money, and what form that money should take, constituted one of the most debated and hotly contested topics in the early Republic. Debates over monetary issues were not confined to a few elites -- rather everyday, �common� Americans, including yeoman farmers and urban wage workers, discussed these issues on a fairly regular basis. But historians in the last few decades have largely left this phenomenon untouched. For instance, the last monograph on the Bank War was written nearly four decades ago. Perhaps this is due to the fact that monetary issues have mostly been a non-issue in the United States for the last several decades. However with more and more Americans talking about monetary issues in the wake of the financial crisis, there has been renewed interest in the history of money and banking in the United States. It�s time for
 historians to return to these early debates on money and offer new interpretations and explanations. My hope is that my dissertation might encourage others to revisit this important topic in American history.

Zayna Bizri 
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I am interested in the intersection of military and gender history; specifically the inclusion of women in the United States military in World War II, and how that affected our concepts of masculinity, femininity, soldiering and citizenship. I will most likely be focusing on the Army Nurse Corps and the WAAC/WAC. I will also attempt to track the changes in society that made it acceptable to formally enlist women in the military in the 1940s. Propaganda is becoming a major point of study.

Alan Brody
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I am looking for materials
dealing with American restaurants, particularly theme restaurants. I am particularly interested in items that would support a project on the restaurant business in America. I am looking for materials that deal with individual theme restaurants, such as Trader Vics, Hard Rock Cafe, etc.

Alexandra (Sasha) Boni
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I do new political history of Cold War America which in essence is trying to meld diplomatic and cultural history into one. My proposed dissertation is an examination of the political nuclear issues of the late 1950s compared to the 1980s and the trying to trace the impact these issues had on the cultural nuclear awareness by examining visual media such as political cartoons, film, television, etc.

Erin Bush
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The murder trials of Laura D. Fair (San Francisco, 1871) and Kate Southern (Pickens County, Georgia, 1878) including, subsequent community (national?) impact and newspaper coverage. I am broadly interested in how women and others used constructs of �female-ness� in the late nineteenth century during a murder trial, especially when the accused admitted their guilt. I hope to address issues in the �medicalization� of womanhood as it was used for and against the accused. Laura claimed insanity due to dysmenorrhea and Kate was newly pregnant when they killed their respective victims. In both cases, these women were sentenced to hang, but Laura was acquitted on appeal and Kate was eventually released and pardoned.

Roger Connor 
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I�m looking at the intersection of social construction and U.S. government policy towards technological innovation between 1930 and 1955. My case study is rotorcraft development by the military and the Post Office/Civil Aeronautics Board. The emphasis will be the dynamic in policy between the Depression, World War II and the early Cold War and how this was influenced by popular modernist enthusiasm for technology. My methodology is to explore the exercise of human agency in the establishment of federal approaches to technology and how this evolved into contradictory or complementary approaches over time and between government agencies.

Erika Elvander
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My interest is in public health efforts in British occupied East Asia in the late 19th century. My M.A. paper was on the bubonic plague outbreak in Hong Kong in 1894, comparing it to the SARS epidemic that occurred over 100 years later, and looking at how that informed Hong Kong identity, as well as British-Hong Kong interactions, and then later Hong Kong Mainland China interactions. My interest is in using the lens of public health and science to better understand the complicated relationship of Britain to its territories in East Asia, and how the intended and unintended short and long term consequences of these efforts on identity, governance, and the day to day life of residents of these areas during that era.

Tracy Fisher
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I�m planning to research how and why the decision was made to repatriate American war dead in the 20th century (and perhaps to compare the American and British experiences). Both during WWI and WWII, the government encouraged people to bury their war dead in Europe, but many families resisted doing so. At the same time, there are a number of overseas cemeteries of American war dead in Europe, reflecting the willingness of some families (including the families of Teddy Roosevelt and George Patton) to let their dead stay in Europe. In addition, the Tomb of the Unknowns was developed after WWI in the US as well as in France and Britain to reflect those with �no known grave.� In Korea and Vietnam, there seems to have been little question that the US dead would be repatriated completely -- it�s not yet clear to me whether that�s because Asia was more foreign than Europe or simply because with no stable front line, there was concern that the dead would be in the hands of the enemy
.  I�d like to examine whether the US was influenced in its decisions by the actions of European states like Britain or France when deciding how to handle the dead and how the government decided whether each new war would be run like the last war or not with respect to the treatment of the dead.

John Lemza
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Although my project is still in the early stages my intent is to conduct research and gather information on the existence of a civil-military shadow culture and society that existed in Germany during the period of the Cold War. Focusing on the established overseas military communities I want to investigate their integration by governmental and non-governmental organizations as essential pieces of the front line of containment against an expanding communist hegemon. This project will encompass political as well as social and cultural considerations in the context of �soft power� projection to bolster America�s image abroad. Central to it will be a focus on the realities of a separate identity that allowed this civil-military culture to serve as a bridge for social and cultural union with host nations and as an important conduit for the export of American diplomacy and consumerist ideals to win the battle of ideologies. Interviews with the faculty and staff of the German Histo
rical Institute have already been conducted to obtain assistance in framing the objectives of the project and to gain familiarization with that institute�s resources. Assistance in locating resources that establish a connection between national strategic policy and planning (military or civilian) and the integration of overseas military communities would be very helpful. There are some military resources available at the Army Military History Institute at Carlisle, PA and at the National Archives at College Park that I will investigate.

Alex Lesanu
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My dissertation �A Sweet History in Bitter Times: Refining Sugar in the Transnistrian Borderlands (1898-2001)� will explore the ways in which a small East-European borderland community negotiated its place through the events of the twentieth century. Founded in 1628, Rybnitsa is a small town which today lies in the contested Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. The real story of Rybnitsa is not the often told twentieth century story of a village becoming a city of heavy industry.  Rybnitsa�s is a story of a different kind for in 1898, a sugar factory opened there. This factory survived the travails of the twentieth century only to perish in 2001, during the so-called �transition� from communism to capitalism. In the period of the sugar factory�s operation (1898-2001), Rybnitsa takes us through a different kind of transnational history.  Focusing on one geographic location and one economic institution allows for a careful evaluation of the impacts of the numerous 
changes of borders and political regimes and many of the major events in twentieth century European history.

Jennifer Levasseur
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My dissertation examines the history of astronaut photography at NASA over the course of the early period of human spaceflight, the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. I argue that the creation of iconic images of the space age was an unintended by-product of NASA putting astronauts in space and that the human perspective was critical to popularization of such images. While the audience for their photography was a professional one (scientists, engineers), the public distribution of images was the key component in forming lasting memories of the space program in American culture. I place the work of astronauts within the historical context of exploration photography, which includes expeditions to the American West, Antarctica, and underwater. My dissertation also examines astronaut photography from the inside - what was NASA considering when it selected cameras for missions, how did they train astronauts, and how did they control (or not) the use of the images to publicize 
missions/programs? I also hope to contextualize photography by astronauts in the larger picture of the visual culture of the �long 60s.�

Lynn Price
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In my major paper for my MA, �Negotiating Freedom: The Process of Manumission in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and Alexandria, Virginia,� I examined the methods of creating, defining, and manipulating the concept of freedom in the early United States through the Virginia Free Negro Registers and manumission documents, along with various other legal and political sources. My dissertation will expand this work, moving from a more focused social history to include intellectual history, incorporating race and gender constructions. I hope to do this through a comparative examination of manumission in the mid-Atlantic states to the colonization of Liberia. Primary sources such as the American Colonization Society Papers--available at the Library of Congress and the Library of Virginia--and legal and political documents such as newspapers and speeches will be used to examine the rhetoric that surrounded colonization and a new type of freedom for American slaves. Firsthand accounts 
from Liberia, including letters and diaries, will be used to investigate the results of such rhetoric on the ground, hopefully yielding useful clues to the social, racial, and gender constructions of freed slaves. Overall, such research will allow my dissertation to analyze the differences in the constructions of freedom for freed slaves who remained in the United States to slaves who emigrated to Liberia.

Rwany Sibaja
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My research uses futbol (soccer), as a lens through which we can understand tensions in Argentinean society between 1955 and 1979. Particularly I would like to examine issues of identity (nationalism, masculinity) and violence in futbol to better understand the larger tensions and anxieties during a turbulent period of Argentine history. A cultural history approach also allows us to understand how diverse Argentine communities came to see themselves, negotiate identity, and react in the face of adversity. Argentinean football, then, provides an interesting and accessible lens by which to ask larger questions about societal conflicts: How can culture shape struggles for power and hegemony between the ruling and popular classes? What caused the marked increase in organized violence in society during this period (from the hooligan barras brava groups, to guerilla movements, to military juntas that took power)? What role did youth unrest and media coverage of violence--on and of
f the field--play in the rise of organized violence? My initial thoughts are that the Argentine case will show that, more than unifying a nation, football accentuated the partisan divides that split the nation both culturally and politically.

Tad Suiter 
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My dissertation will explore the earliest years of the daily newspaper comic strip from roughly 1900 to 1935. During this period, black and white comic strips in the daily paper went from being a completely new medium, scattered throughout the a small number of newspapers in major cities and aimed primarily at urban working class and immigrant readers, to a truly national popular medium, enshrined on their own page in the majority of newspapers throughout the country. The comics page of the daily newspaper, moreover, is a valuable resource for historical research that has been largely overlooked by historians. In its earliest days, between 1912 to 1922, the daily comics page was an intensely multivocal site within the newspaper that was often allowed greater freedom in terms of editorial control than much of the rest of the paper. These comics meant something to their readers -- within the daily comics of this period one can observe very important political issues being expl
ored, gender roles being teased out in the era of the �New Woman,� and difficult issues of ethnicity, race, and Americanization being worked through from a variety of approaches.