Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

History Faculty Focus

  • history faculty 2013

The History Faculty at the 2013 senior reception. From left: (first row) Van GosseLouise Stevenson, Ben McRee; (second row) Maria Mitchell, Abby Schrader, Hoda Yousef, Laura Shelton, Doug Anthony, Richard Reitan, Ted PearsonMatthew Hoffman. Professor Reitan is on sabbatical leave for the 2013-14 academic year. The department is pleased to welcome Visiting Assistant Professor Uma Ganesan, who is offering courses on the history of South and Southeast Asia this year.

  • uma ganesan 1

As visiting assistant professor of history for 2013-14, I am engaged in teaching a set of exciting courses. In the fall, I am teaching the first part of the two-part introductory course on the history of South and Southeast Asia and an upper-division course on colonialism and nationalism in modern South Asia. In the spring, I will be teaching a comparative course on women and gender in India and China. As I am revising my manuscript for publication, I recently participated in a workshop sponsored by the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) titled “Turning Dissertation into a Book” at the annual South Asia Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. My research investigates the themes of women, gender, colonialism and nationalism within the context of a radical social reform movement in late colonial India. I will be presenting portions of my research at a conference in The Netherlands in December 2013 and at the Association of Asian Studies Conference in Philadelphia in March 2014.  


  • Profile: Van Gosse

I’m finishing up the big Pennsylvania section of my book on antebellum black politics, finding more and more evidence of decades of political engagement (voting!) by black men around the state prior to their disfranchisement in 1838. This involves the nitty-gritty of local history: tax rolls, manuscript census records, nineteenth century county histories, genealogies even! Exciting stuff for someone who was originally a Cold War historian. I’m also greatly enjoying my seminar and speaker series this fall on “Irregular Wars,” with an intellectually ambitious group of students, and fascinating guest speakers.  


  • Matthew Hoffman 2013

The 2013-14 academic year is a busy one for me as I am chairing the history department for the first time and completing a number of other extracurricular projects as well. I am continuing my work as chair of the Governance Task Force, which has been charged with revising the Faculty Handbook and Governance processes at the College; no small feat as I’ve learned. In addition, I am working on editing the forthcoming book, A Vanished Ideology: Essays on the Jewish Communist Movement in the Anglophone World in the Twentieth Century, which will be published by State University of New York Press in 2014. I am putting the finishing touches on the chapter I will contribute to the volume, based on my work on Yiddish-speaking Communists in the United States in the interwar years. I am also enjoying teaching courses this year that I don’t teach very often: my seminar on controversies in Jewish historiography, Approaches to Jewish History, in the fall, and my Jewish Views of Jesus course in the spring, which is an outgrowth of my first book, From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture. (Photo by Xinyu Liu '16)


  • Profile: Dr. Maria D. Mitchell

In 2013-2014, I am dividing my time in four ways: First, I am writing an article focused on one case study in the larger narrative of Protestant-Catholic relations in twentieth-century Germany – interconfessional relations in occupied Germany (1945-1949).  Second, I am teaching courses in modern European history, including Modern Europe I, Modern Europe II, and a new course on European Sexualities cross-listed with Women's and Gender Studies. Third, I am chairing the Judaic Studies Program and Faculty Council. Fourth, within the History Department, I am working on our exchange program with the English University of Chichester History Department and recruiting History students to study in Paris in Fall 2014, when I will be directing F&M in Paris. If I can persuade you to consider going abroad, please come see me!


  • Profile: Dr. Ted A. Pearson
I've recently started research on Indians, bandits, missionaries and farmers in the southern backcountry during the eighteenth century. I'm hoping to make this a comparative study by looking at similar groups and their interactions in Tasmania, and other frontier societies. I'm also making revisions to my manuscript on slavery, power and resistance in colonial and revolutionary South Carolina. I'm also putting together two talks for F&M alumni groups: one discussing Benjamin Franklin's time in Paris -- the title is "Ben's Excellent European Adventure" -- for the alumni group in Denver (the Denver Art Museum is currently holding an exhibition of paintings of Paris), and one on Franklin's early life in Boston for the group in that city. In addition, I've gone into intensive training in preparation for my debut in HIS 360, History Workshop, which I'm teaching in the spring.
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This fall I am teaching Colonial Latin America and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, and I'm offering Environmental History of Latin America for the first time at Franklin and Marshall College. Because my current research project involves midwives who served as expert witnesses in infanticide cases, I've also been sifting through dozens of trials I collected from northern Mexico this summer as well as records on midwifery and childbirth from one of Mexico's oldest medical schools in Monterrey, Nuevo León. In October, I travelled to Hermosillo, Sonora, to present a paper at the V Coloquio de Estudios Históricos at the Colegio de Sonora titled "Nuevas interpretaciones culturales y legales de la violencia más íntima: el infanticidio y el abandono infantil en Sonora entre 1850 y 1910" ("New Cultural and Legal Interpretations of a Most Intimate Violence: Infanticide and Infant Abandonment in Sonora between 1850 and 1910"). I'm looking forward to working further on this topic as I collaborate with my Sex and Sexuality in Latin America class this spring and prepare for another conference paper at The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in Toronto in May 2014.


  • louise stevenson dec 2013
Thanksgiving has ended.  We slaughtered the pumpkin and made delicious pies.  As you can see, I am now preparing for the ski season. Every winter, I try to spend at least ten days on the slopes. On January 22, I will speaking to the Lancaster Women's Alliance about the several women's archives that I have helped preserve during my years at F&M and telling them about a new project, the establishment of the Lydia Hamilton Smith historical site adjacent to the downtown Marriott.  From the film Lincoln, you may know Lydia as the bedmate of Thaddeus Stevens. Whereas that role is disputed, she did have a huge role in Stevens's career and his antislavery crusade.