Graduate Program Update
Sasha Pack, director of graduate studies
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that this has been a challenging year for the doctoral and master’s programs in the Department of History—but some years will be, as any student of History can tell you. When instruction moved abruptly into the virtual environment, our teaching assistants, like our faculty, climbed a steep learning curve in online instructional methods and have emerged with many new digital tools in their toolbelts. Likewise, with the grounding of all research travel, the department’s thesis writers showed resilience and flexibility. Thanks in large part to the many donors to our various endowments, the Department of History has weathered the storm, affording students the flexibility to adapt their research plans to the situation. Some took the opportunity to avail themselves of digital source material, while others gained valuable teaching experience while awaiting the reopening of research libraries and archives.
Our endowments also continue to support our ongoing activities in graduate research and professional development. Now in its fourth year, our professional development seminar series—led by advanced doctoral students with faculty support—continues to prosper. Indeed, for our annual roundtable panel on careers for historians, the virtual format allowed us to bring in panelists from across the country to discuss the wide range of career paths they have pursued. We also inaugurated the Plesur Instructorship, a new opportunity for a PhD student to develop and teach their own undergraduate course during the academic year. Finally, we inaugurated the Yearley Prize, in honor of Clifton Yearley (1925-1995), a prize of $1000 to be awarded annually to an advanced doctoral student for academic achievement. Our first Yearley Prize winner is Qiong Liu, who is writing a dissertation on women’s role in the land reform movement in Shandong Province, China, in the 1940s, under the direction of Prof. Kristin Stapleton.
Richard Deverell, “The Comics Code Authority: Mass-Media Censorship in Postwar America”
Amanda Magdalena, “More Than Rubies: The Role of Religion in Lesbian Identity and Community Formation in Memphis, 1970-Present”
Derek Taylor, “Neither Ambassador Nor Spy: The Life and Works of George Conn, Papal Emissary to the Court of Henrietta Maria, 1636-1639”
Congratulations new PhDs Deverell, Magdalena and Taylor!
Jessica Bracco won the 2021 Department of History MA Thesis Prize for her thesis, “Hunger in America: The Inception of the WIC Program.”
Noah Ewing began his MA at UB this fall. He is interested in researching American and Japanese relations in the 20th century. Noah previously attended Houghton College where he received a BA in History and a BS in Theology.
Qiong Liu, PhD candidate, was a Visiting Lecturer at SUNY New Paltz last academic year and presented, “Re-conceptualizing Sexual Violence in the Bitterness-Speaking Sessions in the Pre-1949 Land Reform" at the 2020–21 East-West Living and Learning Community Conference. Qiong also won the inaugural Clifton Yearley Prize.
Eric Deutsch, PhD Candidate, had a terrific experience teaching HIS161, U.S. History I, in Jan. 2021. He utilized skills he learned and honed through law school and in his graduate studies at UB when he guest-lectured and participated in UB’s School of Social Work course this spring, “Mediating Conflict—Mediation.” Eric saw some terrific exhibits made by future scholars when judging the New Jersey State Competition of National History Day this past spring. He was shown fantastic presentations from accomplished undergraduate students in the School of Engineering when he moderated UB’s Celebration of Academic Excellence this spring.
Eric is currently the department’s Professional Development Officer for the 2021-22 academic year and will lead HIS701 and HIS702—proseminars for current graduate students about “Teaching History” and “Careers in History.” Alumni interested in speaking with current graduate students about their particular career paths are encouraged to reach out to Eric at email@example.com.
Jon O'Brian is a PhD candidate focusing on the long Progressive Era in municipal politics, and he is inspired by the best ideals of that period's reformers. He earned his All But the Dissertation status in Dec. 2019 and was awarded with the Resource Center of Jamestown's Community Partner Award in late 2020 for his volunteer work through recreational, organized camp programs for adults who have developmental disabilities. The study of History has helped him to empathize with others, think critically, to be more creative and to problem-solve (especially amid Covid's challenges). The summer camp, in fact, was established 123 years ago (albeit for white, non-disabled boys) as an agency of social reform.