Department News, Fall 2014

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Support the Department
Stay Connected


Message from the Chair


William Becker

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Welcome to the annual George Washington University History Department Newsletter which gives us the chance to communicate to you the impressive accomplishments of the GW History Department's faculty members, graduate students and former undergraduate majors.

We appreciate very much that many of you were inspired by previous newsletters and made gifts to our department. We've used these donations to fund travel, often to distant and remote locations, for research carried out by both our undergraduate and graduate students. If you are in a position to do so, I hope that you will consider making a donation. A gift of $1,000 can fund an important short research trip for a student writing a senior, MA or doctoral thesis. A gift of $2,500 can make possible a longer-term visit to a major archive. All gifts are most welcome, small or large. They have a real impact on our research and on the educational activities we are able to offer our students.

Donations are also used to bring renowned scholars to campus to meet our students and give public lectures to the GW community. The Kayser and the Jones-Huffman lectures, which have been endowed by generous contributions, have become a regular part of the department’s intellectual life.

The Elmer Louis Kayser Lecture began in 2001 with the creation of an endowment by members of the class of 1951, led by Thaddeus A. Lindner, BA ’51, HON ’94, trustee emeriti on GW’s Board of Trustees, in honor of their 50th reunion and GW's longtime professor of history and dean of students Elmer L. Kayser. This year’s lecturer will be Lynn Hunt, distinguished research professor & Eugen Weber Endowed Chair in Modern European History at UCLA. The lecture will be on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Please consult the department’s website for the time, location and topic.

Professor Peter F. Klaren will be retiring this year after having taught Latin American history for over 40 years. He is the author of numerous books and in 1995 received the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence. We all wish him well in his retirement.

We welcome your feedback. If you have questions or comments, or merely wish to reconnect with the department and GW, please contact me at [email protected] or by phone at (202) 994-6052.

With best wishes,
William H. Becker


Department Spotlight


Christopher Klemek discussing D.C. historical studies at a podium.

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It was again a fruitful year in 2013-2014 for the faculty and students of the history department.

This year, the department again held a symposium for philanthropist Albert H. Small in honor of his donation of his extensive collection of images and materials related to the history of the District of Columbia to the university. This year the symposium featured the contributions of Gabriella Angeloni, BA ’13, senior Andrew Kaiser and graduate student Maggie Leak to the catalogue that curator James Goode, PhD ’95, will publish when the museum opens in spring 2015.

In November, GW hosted the Letitia Woods Brown lecture of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Professor Kate Masur of Northwestern University presented a lecture on “Black Politics in Civil War Washington: What Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ Didn’t Tell You.” President Steven Knapp, Professor Christopher Klemek and Director of Heritage and Community Programs for Cultural Tourism D.C., Jane Freundel Levey, MA '91, spoke at the ceremony. The event was catered by Ben’s Chili Bowl, the iconic U Street eatery which donated historic papers and artifacts to the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library in 2011. (Photo: Christopher Klemek discusses GW's efforts to promote D.C. historical studies.)

Professor Denver Brunsman's lecture to his GW history class "George Washington and his World" was broadcast on CSPAN. This session of the class was taught at the National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

In March, the department held its annual Elmer Louis Kayser Lecture. The lectureship was endowed by members of the class of 1951, led by Thaddeus A. Lindner in honor of longtime professor of history and dean of students, Elmer L. Kayser. Last year, James Oakes, distinguished professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York presented research from his award-winning book Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States 1861-1865.

Professor C. Thomas Long again took students on a trip to Normandy, France, as part of his course on the Second World War.

As part of the National Civil War Project, a multi-city, multi-year initiative among four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Civil War author Tony Horowitz and Professor Andrew Zimmerman discussed Horowitz’s writing on stage at the Dorothy Betts Theatre in the Marvin Center at GW. Their discussion focused on the process of writing about war and about the social justice issues raised by America’s most costly war.


Department Announcements

Faculty and graduate students received numerous prestigious fellowships.

Professor Jessica Krug won a fellowship from National Endowment for the Humanities to support her ongoing research project “Politics Outside the State in Kisama, Angola, and the Americas, c. 1500‑1698.”

Professor David Silverman is the Barra Sabbatical Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania for the 2014-15 academic year. The fellowship will support Professor Silverman's current project, entitled Thundersticks: Firearms and the Transformation of Native America, which is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

Recent GW PhD Justin Pope, PhD ’14, won a year-long joint postdoctoral fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice,at Brown University. 

Bob Isaacson won the Marjorie M. and Lancelot Farrar Memorial Award from the Society of French Historical Studies "for work on outstanding dissertation projects in progress." His dissertation has the working title “France, Israel, and the Jews: French-Israeli Relations in the Twentieth Century.”

Last fall and spring, Professor Edward Berkowitz gave a series of talks about John F. Kennedy to GW alumni in such settings as the Newseum in Washington, D.C, the Tribune Tower in Chicago and a hotel on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. In Chicago and Cambridge, he appeared with media luminary Steve Roberts, who teaches journalism at GW.

Four graduates of the PhD program at GW published books this year based on their dissertation research: Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, PhD ’10, published For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789Gregory F. Domber, PhD ’08, published Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold WarMichael Todd Landis, PhD ’11, published Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis; and Brooke Orr, PhD ’02, published The People's Joan of Arc: Mary Elizabeth Lease, Gendered Politics and Populist Party Politics in Gilded-Age America.

Professor Charles F. Herber, emeritus, who taught German history at the George Washington University until 2000, has continued to participate in annual German studies conferences around the U.S. Professor Herber is especially fascinated by the many traces of earlier German history he found in northern Europe. While visiting the town of Alesund, Norway, Professor Herber discovered that after the small city burned down in 1904, German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who regularly vacationed nearby, sent four warships with relief supplies and manpower and started a fund to rebuild the city.

Professor Edward A. McCord's book Military Force and Elite Power in the Formation of Modern China was published as part of the Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia series.

Professor Robert Kenny, emeritus, lives in McLean, Va., and Santa Fe, N.M. He is completing a memoir about growing up in a pre-modern agricultural world. This fall, he will take part in a conference on the 20th anniversary of the Carnegie Corporation’s Boyer Report on undergraduate education, which he wrote.

Professor Suzanne Miller was one of two awardees for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising given out at the Columbian College Celebration for graduating seniors in May, 2014. The award is presented to a faculty member nominated by the undergraduate students in the department of the student's major.

Professor Lois Schwoerer’s, emeritus, essay “Women and Guns in Early Modern London,” appeared in Social and Cultural Worlds in Early Modern Europe: Challenging Orthodoxies, edited by Sigrun Haude and Melinda S. Zook, BA ’83, MA ’85. It was published by the Ashgate Press in Farnman, England.

Professor C. Thomas Long continued his leadership of Phi Alpha Theta, the honor society for undergraduate history majors. This year, the GW chapter of Phi Alpha Theta hosted the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at which 52 students from 12 institutions presented papers. 

Our recent history grads are enjoying success in many fields, including:

  • Kevin Doré, BA ’13, is preparing to enter medical school after doing a stint for Teach for America in Chicago.
  • Andrew Kaiser, BA ’14, after studying in Turkey over the summer, began his graduate study of history at the University of Chicago this fall.
  • Katie LeValley, BA ’14, is pursuing a graduate degree in education policy at GW.
  • In this election year Colin O’Neal, BA ’14, is working full time on a major campaign—and trying to squeeze in time to expand his honors thesis for publication.
  • Robin Pokorski, BA ’14, recently accepted a position at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Campus.
  • A number of our graduates are in law school, including Sarah Prather, BA ’13, at Boston College, Ry Ravenholt, BA ’13, at Columbia, with Brandon Neuman, BA ’13, and John Stiff, BA ’13, on the West Coast.


Jisoo M. Kim

Jisoo M. Kim

Jisoo M. Kim came to GW in 2010, where she is currently the Korea Foundation Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures. She began her lifelong interest in the position of women in Korea as a child, curious about her own mother’s struggle with her grandparents over the supposed greater value of sons over daughters. In her dissertation research at Columbia University, Professor Kim discovered another group of women who challenged conventional images of women in Confucian culture, women who were able to participate in state politics independently, without relying on men to represent them. Professor Kim built on this work to write her first book, The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Chosŏn Korea (1392−1910), which will appear in 2015.

Dane Kennedy

Dane Kennedy

Dane Kennedy is the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs. He came to us from the University of Nebraska where he was a professor of history. He is the author of five books, the most recent being The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia which focuses on 19th-century British explorers. He has received fellowships from both Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Center. He is currently director of The National History Center. Founded by the American Historical Association in 2002, Professor Kennedy explains that “its main mission is to bring the knowledge and insights of historians to a broader public and especially to those involved in policy issues. A good example is our Congressional Briefing series, which brings historians to Capitol Hill to speak about the historical contexts to contemporary issues such as immigration policy and the African public health crisis.”


Alumni Updates/Class Notes


David Amram, BA ’52, is a classical and jazz musician. He continues to compose and conduct at age 84. A pioneer of the jazz French horn, he composed the score for the film The Manchurian Candidate among many other works. “I always think of Dean Kayser and the GW History Department and hope I can be 1/10th as inspirational as he was in getting anyone to see, hear and STUDY the history of the present world in which we all live.”

Luis A. Blandon, BA ’85, is a managing partner of a firm that collaborates with production firms and documentarians to conduct background research, write scripts and treatments, conduct interviews, direct, produce and create content. Current projects include documentaries on Chinese immigration to the west from 1848 to 1906 and the life of George Washington.

Michael Jabara Carley, BA ’67, Professeur titulaire, Département d'histoire, Université de Montréal, just published: Silent Conflict: A Hidden History of Early Soviet-Western Relations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). He is presently on leave doing research in Moscow.

Sara Lynne Falk, BA ’11, graduated from American University Washington College of Law and is now a Presidential Management Fellow at the United States Department of Labor in OSHA-Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs.

Christina Firpo, BA ’00, received a MA and PhD in Southeast Asian history from UCLA. She is currently an associate professor of Southeast Asian history at CalPoly University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Jonathan David Flack, BA ’10, is a second-year law student at NYU School of Law with interests in civil litigation, international arbitration and civil rights law. Prior to law school he worked in Congress as an intern in Representative Hank Johnson’s (Georgia) office and then as a legislative aide for Representative Carolyn McCarthy (New York).

Jillian Foley, BA ’09, lives in the Greater Boston area and is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. She currently works as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Joseph Frechette, BA ’95, MA ’98, is living in the D.C. area working as a staff historian for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. He is also working on his dissertation in ancient history at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Miranda Gendel, BA ’11, is working in donor relations at the GW School of Business Development office, and is a master's candidate in GW's American Studies program, focusing on Cold War history.

Jeremy Hodgkin, BA ’00, resides in Burke, Va. He earned an MBA from the University of Mary Washington and is a management consultant.

Sora Jennifer Kim, BA ’05, works for Community Legal Aid in Worcester, Mass., representing homeowners and tenants who have foreclosure-related issues.

Bonnie Wernik Levine, BA ’73, is a commercial marine insurance broker in Boston, and remembers her undergraduate days as turbulent and fascinating times at GW. “Leo’s served sandwiches for fifty cents” She married Larry Levine, BA ’73, in 1977.

Benjamin Linden, BA ’10, spent a year teaching English in South Korea. He then returned home to New York and started working at Asia Society, where he administered the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative.

Darren Menaker, BA ’00, is vice president and financial advisor at Bernstein Global Wealth Management in Los Angeles and is currently chair the Los Angeles GW Alumni Association.

Peter Otlans, BA ’06, graduated in the spring from Boston University medical school. While there, he founded the Boston University School of Medicine Historical Society.

Mark Plotkin, BA ’69, received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from George Washington University in 2014. He took the occasion to remember "fabulous former history professors: Robert Kenny, Peter P. Hill, Howard Maxwell Merriman and Roderick Davison.” He is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and writes a weekly column for

Pete Peterson, BA ’89, recently ran for California secretary of state as the Republican candidate.

Wesley J. Reisser, BA ’04, has signed a contract with Oxford University Press for his second book, Energy Resources: From Science to Society, a cross-disciplinary work that includes historical vignettes on important energy issues. His first book, The Black Book: Woodrow Wilson's Secret Plan for Peace, was released earlier this year in paperback.

Michael Rhode, BA ’87, is the archivist for the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's history office, and has been since 2011. His latest book The Art of Richard Thompson will be published in November.

Brianna D. Salerno, BA ’06, graduated from the George Mason University School of Law in 2010, and is an associate at the Carlberg Law Firm in Alexandria, Va., where she practices family law.

Lorenz P. Schrenk, BA ’54, and his wife Ann S. Schrenk, BA ’54, recently moved to Roseville, Minn. The final volume in Lorenz's five-volume series on the history of the Northern Pacific Railway was published last year.

Jason Steinhauer, BA ’02, manages programs and communications for The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, a scholars’ center within the library. He brings scholars from around the world to the library to use the collections and communicates the research to policymakers and the public.

Abbie Weiser, BA ’02, is an archivist in the Special Collections department of the University of Texas at El Paso Library. During the past two years, she has had several research articles published in Password, the journal of the El Paso County Historical Society.

James Zarsadiaz, BA ’08, is assistant professor of history at the University of San Francisco where he teaches courses on urbanism, Asian American studies and the U.S. West. He received his PhD in history from Northwestern University in June 2014.


Charlene Bangs Bickford, MA ’69, co-editor and director of GW's First Federal Congress Project, was awarded the Roger R. Trask Award of the Society for History in the Federal Government at the SHFG’s 2014 annual meeting. This award recognized Bickford's contributions to federal history, both through her work on the 20 volumes of the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 published to date and through her decades of service as an advocate for federal support for history.

Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, PhD ’10, is the author of the newly-published For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789 (Cornell University Press, 2014). Kathleen is affiliated with the First Federal Congress Project in Washington, D.C. For Fear of an Elective King was recommended in the "Hot Type" section of the October 2014 Vanity Fair, and she recently penned an op-ed that was featured on the front page of "Ideas" in the September 21, 2014, Boston Globe.

Neil Bhatiya, MA ’09, is a policy associate at The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan progressive think tank located in New York City, where he writes about climate change policy, with a special focus on South Asia.

Christopher Bright, MPhil ’03, PhD ’06, is the staff director of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives. In July 2014, he completed a four year term on the GW Board of Trustees.

Jared Hall, MA ’10, lives in Beijing, China, where he serves as assistant dean of Peking University High School’s Dalton Academy, a program that prepares Chinese high school students for university study abroad. He also teaches courses in history and politics.

Tate Jones, MA ’96, is the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History in Fort Missoula, Montana. A PhD candidate at the University of Missoula, he is the author of Images of America: Fort Missoula (2013).

Keith A. Kenny, MA ’80, retired from a career as an intelligence analyst in 2012 and built a chalet in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Wintergreen Resort. There he lives with his wife and two dogs and “writes commentaries under the cover of science fiction.”

Joseph Kirschbaum, PhD ’08, was recently selected to be a director in the U.S. Government Accountability Office's Defense Capabilities and Management team, where he leads congressional-mandated and requested reviews of defense-related programs in homeland defense, cyber operations, weapons of mass destruction, defense intelligence, antiterrorism and strategic force. He is working on a book manuscript based on his 2008 dissertation on the U.S. Navy's expansion during the First World War.

Lura Lee, MA ’99, runs BackInTime Historical Consulting and was retained as a resource for an upcoming TV show called The Astronaut Wives Club which will air on ABC next season. She currently resides in Tampa, Fla.

Angela Matysiak, PhD ’05, went on to get her MPH from GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health in 2012. Her most recent publication, Health & Well-being: Science, Medical Education, and Public Health, is a history of the Rockefeller Foundation's philanthropic efforts to promote health and well-being. She is vice-president of the Policy Studies Organization in Washington, D.C., and editor at Westphalia Press, Library of Public Health.

Whitney Tarella Landis, MA ’09, and Michael Landis, PhD ’11, are living in the Fort Worth, Texas, area where he is an assistant professor, and she works from home as an editor. His first book Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis has just been published by the Cornell University Press.

Mike Nau, MA ’13, has been promoted to the rank of major and is currently assigned to US Army-Central Command in South Carolina. After returning from his fourth deployment in the Mid-East, he was assigned as a strategic planner, and works on developing various plans and operations for the region.

Larry Price, MA ’81, has been a teacher most of his adult life, including stints in Chicago, the Central African Republic and the Chesapeake Bay area. Currently he is a history teacher (world history and U.S. history) in suburban Detroit. "I fondly remember many folks, but especially Professors Linda Lear and James Horton."

William A. Taylor, PhD ’10, is assistant professor of security studies at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Taylor won several grants to research Every Citizen a Soldier: The Campaign for Universal Military Training after World War II, which was published with Texas A&M University Press in 2014.


How Your Donation Can Help

Gifts to the Department of History allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as a vibrant department serving the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs and the greater community of the George Washington University.

You can make your gift to the department in a number of ways:

  • Securely online.
  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with "History Department" in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University
2100 M Street NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20052

  • By phone by calling the GW Annual Fund at 1-800-789-2611.


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