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History Spring 2015 Newsletter

Faculty News:

Isabel Hull has published A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law during the Great War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014). A copy of the book is available in the department bookcases. Sir Hew Strachan, All Souls College, Oxford, writes: “A Scrap of Paper is the first book to pay sustained attention to the subject of international law in the First World War since 1920.It is not only a timely book, it is an overdue one, and its impact on the study of the war will be important and game-changing.” Martti Koskenniemi, Academy Professor, University of Helsinki, writes, “This is not only superb history, but also the most powerful defense of the role of law in international crisis that I have read, and as such is of obvious contemporary relevance.” Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Samuel Moyn, Columbia, calls it a “wonderful book” and says “‘A Scrap of Paper’ is a strong demonstration of the worth of international law and the laws of war in particular, and vindicates Ms. Hull’s standing as one of our greatest historians of modern European politics.”

Joel Silbey has published an edited volume of essays, A Companion to the Antebellum Presidents 1837-1861 (Wiley Blackwell: 2014). John B. Boles of Rice writes, “Well-conceived and well executed, this historiographical guide to the scholarship on the eight presidents between 1837 and 1861 will prove indispensable to historians. From the brilliant overview by editor Silbey to the provocative analysis of Buchanan and secession by John Ashworth, it is superb.” A copy of the book now graces our departmental shelves. Congratulations, Joel!

Ray Craib has published a Spanish-language translation of his book, "Cartographic Mexico". It is:  México cartográfico: Una historia de límites fijos y paisajes fugitivos (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2013).

Rachel Weil has published "A Plague of Informers: Conspiracy and Political Trust in William III’s England" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).  Alan Houston (UC-San Diego) calls A Plague of Informers “a rare and lovely accomplishment.” John Marshall (Johns Hopkins) says the book “offers an extremely important new interpretation of the revolutionary regime established in 1688-89 by studying in detail its fragile and highly contested first years.” Steve Pincus (Yale) writes “Rachel Weil is one of the very few most creative historians of early modern Britain. ... In a carefully argued and engaging narrative, Weil demonstrates that new regimes, no matter their commitment to ‘liberty’ however defined, have to generate trust from their subjects by dealing with those who do not share in their definitions of liberty and security.”

Walter LaFeber, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, has been selected as one of the winners of the American Historical Association's 2013 Awards for Scholarly Distinction. The annual awards honor senior historians in the United States for lifetime achievement in the discipline. The prizes will be presented during a ceremony at the Association's 128th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., January 2-5, 2014. To quote from the AHA: "Walter LaFeber received his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison in 1959 and taught at Cornell thereafter, becoming Professor Emeritus in 2006. He is one of the scholars who re-invented the study of American foreign relations in the 1960s: not only transforming many specific debates, but lastingly changing our sense of what this field could be. An exceptionally visible and valuable public intellectual, Professor LaFeber has managed to reach broad audiences without sacrificing academic rigor."

Fred Logevall's prize-winning book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. Since its inception in 2008, the Cundill Prize has become one of the world's premier awards in nonfiction. The winner will be announced on November 20.

Maria Cristina Garcia will be appearing in a series of upcoming television programs. For the past few years, she has served as an advisor to PBS on their forthcoming television series on Latino history. This 6-hour television series is scheduled to air from 8-10pm on PBS over three consecutive Tuesdays: Part 1, September 17; Part 2, September 24; and Part 3, October 1. Maria Cristina appears as a 'talking head' in four of the six episiodes. The episode descriptions appear at

Sandra Greene is co-editor of two new volumes of essays: Alice Bellagamba, Sandra E. Greene, and Martin A. Klein, African on Slavery and the Slave Trade, vol.1, The Sources (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Paul E. Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, York Univesity, writes: "By combining so many studies that give voice to enslaved Africans into a single forum, Bellagamba, Greene, and Klein have transformed the study of slavery in a way that will require a revolutionary reassessment of what we think about slavery and how we study enslavement and resistance ... a tour de force of global significance for historians, students, and all people concerned with social justice." A copy of this book will grace our book cabinet. The second volume is Martin Klein, Alice Bellagamba, and Sandra E. Greene, eds., The Bitter Legacy: African Slavery, Past and Present (Markus Wiener Publishers, 2012), a collection of essays exploring the effects of memories of African slavery on political, social, economic, and religious behavior today.

Isabel Hull has won the inaugural International Research Support Prize 2013 of the Max Weber Stiftung and the Historisches Kolleg. This major award, including a residency and research seminar at the Historisches Kolleg in Munich, is being awarded for the first time. The foundation cites Hull as "a highly qualified and innovative historian as well as an outstanding intermediary between the scholarly cultures of the USA, Great Britain, and Germany."

Aaron Sachs has recently published Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition (Yale University Press, 2013). "Sachs offers a deep-running meditation on life, death, and our place in and responsibility to our world....An artful blend of reflection and call to action that steers around environmental fatalism toward "the exhilaration and melancholy that mark every life."--Kirkus Reviews

TJ Hinrichs has recently co-edited a book with Linda L. Barnes, Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013).

Mary Beth Norton is being recognized with a conference......

Ray Craib and Jon Parmenter have each been selected as team members for the 2012-2015 ISS theme project, "Contested Governance, Economy and Livelihoods on the Ground."

Maria Cristina Garcia was elected Vice-President/President-Elect of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the oldest organization dedicated to the study of immigration to the United States and Canada and lists as founders, notable scholars such as Oscar Handlin and John Higham. Garcia was also named as the faculty member who made the most significant contribution to the Cornell education of Phoenix Paz, one of our graduating seniors in History, who was seleced as a Merrill Presidential Scholar. Paz and Garcia were both recognized at a convocation luncheon on May 23. Also, the PBS series that Garcia has been working on since 2006 has received the go-ahead and will air in the fall of 2013:



Student Awards and Job Announcements

Trais Pearson has been awarded, along with his student Harshil Mattoo, the Gertrude Spencer Prize. This prize recognizes the excellent preparatory and other work that led to the finished paper, "Race Science as a Catalyst for Japanese Imperialism," which Mr. Mattoo wrote for the First-Year Writing Seminar, History 1163: Numb: A Modern History of Pain.