Department News, Fall 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Message from the Chair



Katrin Schultheiss

Chair Katrin Schultheiss

Dear Friends of the GW History Department:

I am delighted as always to share with you some of the highlights of the past academic year. We are excited to welcome three new faculty members to our ranks. Our search for an historian of early modern Europe yielded two fantastic young scholars: Trevor Jackson from Berkeley, and Jennifer Wells from Brown University. We are also very happy to have on board a highly accomplished new undergraduate adviser: Steven Brady, who comes to us from Notre Dame University.

In other news, history faculty enjoyed a banner year, with six of our colleagues winning a total of eight nationally competitive research fellowships. History also garnered four of GW’s top teaching awards including the prestigious Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence. The award went to Denver Brunsman, whose innovative course, George Washington and His World, continues to transform the learning experiences of undergraduates.

Our students continue to impress with their energy, insight and accomplishments. Three history majors received awards in spring for their original projects displayed during the university’s Research Days. Lydia Francis’ study of the historical origins of D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park went on to win the Julian Clement Chase Prize for excellence in undergraduate writing on D.C. And don’t miss the latest issue of our student edited journal The GWU Historical Review, featuring original articles by undergraduates!

We hope that you share our excitement about the work that is being accomplished in the classroom and in the archives by our faculty and students alike. Whatever our political beliefs, I think we can all agree that the value of studying history has never been greater and more apparent than it is today. We greatly appreciate your continuing support of the History Department. Please stop by Phillips Hall if you are in the area!

With all best wishes,
Katrin Schultheiss
Chair, Department of History


Department Spotlights

Denver Brunsman Delivers Trachtenberg Teaching Award Distinguished Lecture 

Denver Brunsman
Denver Brunsman

On October 10, Professor Denver Brunsman delivered the Trachtenberg Teaching Award Distinguished Lecture, titled "Teaching History With the Musical Hamilton," at the Textile Museum. The musical Hamilton is the most celebrated American cultural phenomenon of the early 21st century. It has also changed the teaching of history in classrooms across the country. In this presentation, Professor Brunsman shared his experience with using Hamilton in his classes at GW, particularly George Washington and His World, taught annually at the Mount Vernon estate

By pairing George Washington with Alexander Hamilton, Professor Brunsman has helped to humanize both figures for students and highlight previously neglected historical topics. The musical has opened critical questions about historical authorship, authenticity and memory. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, it matters "who lives, who dies, who tells your story."

Joel Blecher Publishes Path-Breaking New Book


Joel Blecher

Image Caption (Optional)

Professor Joel Blecher's first book, Said the Prophet of God: Hadith Commentary across a Millennium (University of California Press, 2018), explores the rich history of the practice of hadith commentary in the times and places it flourished the most: classical Andalusia, medieval Egypt and early modern India. 

Weaving together tales of public debates, high court rivalries and colonial politics with analyses of ethnographic field notes and fine-grained arguments adorning the margins of manuscripts, his book opens new avenues for scholars who study interpretive traditions over long periods of time and geographical expanses.

History Department Welcomes Three New Faculty Members

Three new faculty members joined the History Department. Steven Brady is our new undergraduate advisor and a diplomatic historian with special interests in German-American relations, early United States foreign relations and Congress's role in shaping foreign policy. His current book project is Chained to History: Slavery and United States Foreign Relations to 1865Trevor Jackson researches early modern European economic history, with an emphasis on inequality and financial crisis. His dissertation, “Markets of Exception: An Economic History of Impunity in Britain and France, 1720-1830,” examines how changes in the scope for prosecutorial discretion, technical complexity and the international mobility of capital diffused the capacity to act with impunity in the economy across the very long eighteenth century. Jennifer Wells specializes in international law and history, with an emphasis on Britain, Ireland, Europe, nation building and imperial expansion. She has published on a wide range of issues that examine the intersection of history, law, politics, society and the state.


Department Announcements

In Memoriam



Leo Ribuffo

Leo Ribuffo

Shortly before this newsletter went to press, the department was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Leo Ribuffo, professor of 20th century U.S. history and a member of the GW History Department for 45 years. Leo was the author of The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War, which was awarded the 1985 Merle Curti Prize for best book in intellectual history by the Organization of American Historians. He also wrote Right Center Left: Essays in American History (1992) and many articles for scholarly and popular journals. At the time of his death, Leo was completing a biography of Jimmy Carter called The Limits of Moderation: Jimmy Carter and the Ironies of American Liberalism. Over the course of his long career at GW, Leo taught courses on contemporary U.S. history and America social thought. He was a challenging and memorable teacher to innumerable undergraduates and a revered mentor to dozens of graduate students. His intelligence, erudition and sardonic wit will be deeply missed by his many friends and colleagues. In accordance with Leo's stated wishes, there will be no memorial service.


Faculty Kudos

Congratulations to Professors Joel BlecherErin ChapmanShawn McHale and Dina Khoury on winning ACLS fellowships for their current book projects; Daqing Yang on being selected as a visiting research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin; Diane Cline on being awarded a fellowship at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and a Fulbright scholarship; and Joel Blecher on winning fellowships from NEH and the Kluge Center at Library of Congress.

Professor Dane Kennedy’s latest book, titled The Imperial History Wars: Debating the British Empire, was published by Bloomsbury Press. Dane notes in the conclusion of the book: "While we will never return to that era when Britain's disproportionate influence on the world gave the study of its history a disproportionate influence as well, this does not mean that it no longer matters. In some ways it matters more than ever. So long as fantasists and neofascists seek to distort that past to serve their present political purposes, the British imperial history wars are sure to go on."

Professors Ed Berkowitz and William Becker recently retired after many years of teaching and research at GW. Professor Berkowitz taught on the history of American social welfare policy, recent American history and American cultural history for 36 years. Professor Becker taught business history, business-government relations and the institutions of the international economy for 38 years.

Current Students

Congratulations to the following graduate students on their publications this year:

  • Ashley Valanzola, author, “Material Culture and Memory: Objects from the Holocaust in Poland”
  • Nathan Wurtenberg and Bill Horne, editors, Demand the Impossible: Essays in History as Activism
  • Nathan Wurtenberg, author, “Gun Rights Are About Keeping White Men on Top”
  • Alexa Price, author, “Displaying the Wooden Walls of Old England: HMS Foudroyant as a Monument to Lost Skills and Masculinity, 1892-1897” (forthcoming) and “Lady Jane Franklin: The ‘Indomitable Woman’ of Naval Heroism”
  • Ryan Musto, author, “The Storied Past of Denuclearization”

Congratulations to the following undergraduate students who received departmental awards for their independent research:

  • Annabel LaBrecque and Amanda Urban, Gardiner G. Hubbard Memorial Prize for Excellence in American History
  • Zachary Sanders and Margaret Swanson, Jesse Fant Evans Prize for Excellence in Contemporary History
  • Danile BurkeTeddy Clamp and Samuel Tiratto, Thomas F. Walsh Prize for Best Essays in Irish History
  • Noah Duell, Zachary Sanders, Isaac Strauss, Elliot Warren, Veronica LaDu, Maggi McCool, Samuel Pfister, Samuel Nohra, Samantha Clark, Hope Grossman, and Mary Horn, best senior theses in various topics.

Congratulations to the following graduate students who received departmental awards for teaching and research:

  • Lauren Jannette, Charles Herber Prize for Best Graduate Teaching Assistant
  • Ariel Wilks, Elmer Louis Kayzer Prize for Best MA Thesis for her thesis titled “Honor of the Flag: Privateers and American National Identity”

Department Achievements

History Department students and faculty swept all of the 2018 university-wide teaching awardsDenver Brunsman, winner of the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence; Diane Cline, winner of the Morton A. Bender Teaching Award; Tyler Anbinder, winner of the Writing in the Disciplines Distinguished Teaching Award; and PhD student Katharine White, winner of the Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award.


Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Lauren Batten, BA ’15, was recently promoted to the level of development officer after two years of working at the Pacific Council on International Policy, a nonpartisan nonprofit in Los Angeles.

Sebastian Bernburg, MA ’17, is currently working as a researcher at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington, D.C.

Michael Bishop, MA ’94, is director of the National Churchill Library and Center at the George Washington University and executive director of the International Churchill Society.

David Boxer, BA ’07, and his new wife, Dr. Hannah Morris, moved from D.C. to Khartoum, Sudan, in August. He is serving as the deputy political-economic counselor in the U.S. Embassy to Sudan and supporting efforts to normalize the bilateral relationship.

Elva (Schroebel) Card, BA ’58, has been teaching history and psychology in Fairfax County Public Schools for the last 30 years. She has also presented sessions at the National Council for Social Studies and at the Virginia Council for Social Studies.

Patrick Cecil, MA ’09, completed his PhD in history at The University of Alabama in 2015 with the dissertation, “Colonial Pennsylvania's Peace Experiment on the Frontier, 1631-1786.” He is currently a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Orange County, Calif.

Sharon Chamberlain, PhD ’10, continues to teach at various local universities. Her book, A Reckoning: Philippine Trials of Japanese War Criminals, will be published by University of Wisconsin Press in early 2019.

Paul D'Ambrosio, BA ’81, has been named director of investigations for the USA TODAY New Jersey media group. He also received his master's degree this year in journalism and strategic communications from the University of Memphis.

Laura Donnelly, MA ’78, began teaching art/architectural history, literature and culture for the Johns Hopkins Osher program after her retirement from university administration. Thanks to Professor Schwoerer, she has also become a docent at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Meghan Dunn, BA ’05, is the founding principal of the Riverdale Avenue Community School in Brownsville, Brooklyn. She was recently featured in The New York Times for her work with students and families in temporary housing.

Joseph Enright, BA ’70, pursued a federal government career at the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (1970-1977), and then at the U.S. Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration (1978- 2006), upon graduating from GW's CCAS. He enjoyed extensive global travel at each agency.

Hannah Finkel, BA ’18, is attending Cardozo Law School in New York City.

Joseph Frechette, BA ’95, MA ’98, recently completed his doctorate in ancient history at the University of Maryland. He currently works as a staff historian in the Army Historical Program.

Matthew Genetelli, BA ’15, has been working as a history teacher at a specialized school for students with dyslexia in the Boston area since graduating from GW. Matthew has taught three years of U.S.  History and is currently teaching World History.

Jennifer Harbour, MA ’97, is now an assistant professor of black studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Her book, Organizing Freedom: Black Activism in Wartime Illinois and Indiana, is being released by Southern Illinois University Press in 2019.

Kate Hardwick, BA ’11, became history department chair at St. Stephens and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., where she teaches World and U.S. History. She also recently earned her MEd in Independent School Leadership.

Andrew Harrison, BA ’88, works as historian/archivist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He teaches adjunct history at Thomas Jefferson University.

Andrew Hartman, MA ’03, PhD ’06, won a Fulbright which will allow him to spend six months researching at the British Library. His co-edited book, American Labyrinth: Intellectual History for Complicated Times, will be published in December 2018 by Cornell University Press.

Paul Heer, PhD ’95, retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2015 . He subsequently published his GW dissertation as Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American Policy in East Asia (Cornell University Press, 2018).

Donald Hickey, BA ’01, is currently pursuing a PhD in history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focus is on race and citizenship in Reconstruction-era San Francisco.

Stephen Jackson, PhD ’13, is an assistant professor of history at the University of Sioux Falls. In the summer of 2018 he published his first book, Constructing National Identity in Canadian and Australian Schools: The Crown of Education, with Palgrave Macmillan.

David Johnston, BA ’08, owns a real estate company which specializes in historic properties. He just bought his eighth one in Montross, Va.

Nate Jones, MA ’09, is the director of the Freedom of Information Act Project at the National Security Archive where he oversees the thousands of FOIAs and appeals filed each year. He has written a book on the 1983 Able Archer 83 nuclear war scare.

Jonathan Kahan, BA ’70, graduated from GW Law in 1973 and has been with the law firm of Hogan Lovells LLP for 44 years practicing food and drug law. Also, he is an adjunct professor at GW Law teaching medical technology law.

Jonathan Kantor, BA ’06, is founder and CEO of Zuzu Digital, a digital marketing agency that provides strategic, creative and analytic services to businesses ranging from startup to Fortune 100. He lives in Old Greenwich, Conn., with his wife and two children.

Steve Linder, BA ’69, attended the GW Law School and graduated in 1972. He joined the Air Force JAG Corps where he served for 30 years. His history education was valuable training for the law. He always wanted to know how we got to the problem before searching for a solution.

Marc Marmaro, BA ’69, practiced law for 38 years, primarily in civil litigation,  and served as a superior court judge in Los Angeles for more than seven years. He has now joined Signature Resolution in Los Angeles  as a mediator and arbitrator.

Gus Mellander, BA ’59, PhD ’60, MA ’66, was a university dean for 15 years and a college president for 20. He is now coping, not very successfully, with retirement in Palm Beach. After seven books and 300 articles, he is trying his hand at fiction; failing miserably but remains optimistic.

Joshua Meredith, Esq., BA ’07, is the assistant dean for analytics, technology and security programs at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. In addition to his administrative duties, he has taught the course workplace ethics for 10-consecutive semesters.

David Miller, BA ’69, thanks GW for the best four non-marriage years of my life. Thank you to all my professors and Hail To The Buff & Blue!

John Miller, BA ’06, is a VP, senior ESG research analyst at Calvert Research and Management, an Easton Vance Company. Calvert is a leader in the responsible investment management space. John covers energy and utility investment research.

Sarah Moga, BA ’13, is living in New York City and working as the director of member engagement for Saint Peter's Church, a thriving ELCA Lutheran Church with a robust performing arts presence in the city.

David Moore, BA ’84, graduated from law school, and has been practicing law for over 30 years and has a solo office in Avon, Conn. He is currently the chair of the town of Simsbury Board of Ethics, and the vice-chair of the Simsbury Democratic Town Committee.

Jerome Nadler, BA ’74, recently retired after 25 years as a superior court judge in Santa Clara, Calif. He and his wife, Judy Shasky Nadler, BA ’74,  continue to be active as community volunteers in California's Silicon Valley.

Kelly Obernuefemann, PhD ’01, is a full professor at Lewis and Clark community college and program coordinator for history/geography/political science. In April 2018 she received the Women in History award from the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Sara Ortega Roliz, BA ’03, minored in history in 2003 and thanks Professor McHale for his passion for the field. She is now a nonprofit director in San Francisco, balancing work between the United States and Cambodia. She and her family enjoy traveling and updating their humble home.

Pete Peterson, BA ’89, became dean of Pepperdine's School of Public Policy in 2016, and is leading new initiatives exploring the connection between the public and policy making through better processes and technology.

George Petrov, BA ’71, is a program manager, currently in the medical technology field. The most useful aspect of his training in history was to see that truth is a fog: no one source, primary or secondary, can be assumed to be accurate. Always triangulate.

Sheldon Rapoport, BA ’70, retired from the Foreign Service after serving 28 years, mainly in the Middle East and South Asia. He is involved with several nonprofits and moves between his homes in Chicago, Ill., and Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Paul Rifkin, BA ’65, is a retired restaurateur, passionately taking photos and trying to excise the Trump-cancer from our body politic.

Christelle Saintis, BA ’12, said her history degree has helped to fuel her passion for travel! She previously lived in Thailand for two years before moving to Honduras for a year to teach English. It has been a great adventure so far!

Zach Sanders, BA ’18, has been working as a litigation legal assistant at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York since graduation. His experiences as a history major, as well as his varied internship experiences, prepared him well for this rewarding opportunity!

Alicia Schueler, BA ’01, met her husband (also a veteran) after she finished serving in the United States Navy during the war. They moved to northern Florida in 2006. She run their small organic farm and teaches at their son's Catholic school. They raise cattle, sheep and chickens.

Stuart Silverman, BA ’73, loved GW. He is now a retired school counselor. However, he is still working full time in summer camping.

MaryKate Smolenski, BA ’17, started a master's program in history and museum studies at Tufts University this fall.

Ashley Somawang, MA ’17, is currently at the University of California, Davis, where she is a first-year PhD student in the history department.

JC Stiassni, BA ’13, works as a commercial real estate agent in Cleveland, Ohio. He uses his history degree to understand the context of a project or neighborhood and provide analysis to clients.

Robert Tanen, MA ’06, became the director of the SE Region of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in February 2018. He did research at the museum for coursework during his MA studies at GW, and he is now proud to be a professional for this institution in its 25th year.

William Taylor, PhD ’10, is the series editor for the new book series Studies in Civil-Military Relations with University Press of Kansas and is the author of two books, Military Service and American Democracy and Every Citizen a Soldier.

Dan Whittier, BA ’11, is working as a strategy and management consultant with Kaiser Associates, where he advises wireless telecom infrastructure companies throughout Latin America.

Bernard Williams, BA ’71, is currently a partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in D.C. as a litigator in federal tax matters. He graduated in 1974 from GW Law and has held various federal government positions in 11 of his 44 years.

Andrew Wilson, MPA ’08, is currently associated with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), where he has served in roles ranging from instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to overseas liaison officer and division chief.

Brian Wivell, BA ’17, has been working on political campaigns in Montgomery County, most recently as the campaign manager for Marc Elrich for county executive.

Rebecca Wolfson, BA ’15, went to law school and received her JD in May 2018. She is currently at the Elliott School in the MIPP program (Masters of International Policy and Practice) and is expected to get her master’s this coming May.

Benjamin Young, PhD ’18, is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Strategy and Policy Department at the U.S. Naval War College.


Donor Recognition

The Department of History would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Andrew R. Bacas, MA ’15

Brianna W. Bailey, BA ’17

Leonard Braitman *

Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr., BA ’79

Louise C. Bush *

David C. Bush *

Christopher Michael Kainoa Ching, BA ’14

Dr. Malcolm C. Clark, BA ’53, MA ’59,

Peter Lee Collins, MA ’81

Sean S. Corcoran, BA ’96

Neil DeHaan, Jr., BA ’70

Bert Howard Deixler, BA ’73

John C. Doss, MA ’09

Christina Elizabeth Firpo, BA ’00

Megan K. Fitzgerald, BS ’17

Alice H. FitzGerald #

James M. FitzGerald #

Elizabeth Fitzgerald *

Maria L. Freda #

Dr. Michele Frucht-Levy, BA ’70

Ilana R. Goldfus, BA ’10

Mary F. Goldwag, BA ’66, MA ’80

Michael Gonnerman *

Elizabeth W. Gonnerman *

Warren Gould, BA ’51, MA ’55

Richard Anthony Grasso, BA ’09

Sallie M. Greenwood, BA ’65

H Roger Hansen *

Nancy W. Hansen *

Katherine C. Hardwick, BA ’11

Richard Perry Harland, MA ’78

Alora K. Hasson, BA ’16

Dr. Charles J. Herber +

Joan Herber *

Audrey J. Hertzberg, BA ’18

Peter P. Hill, Ph.D., PhD ’66

Nicholas C. Holy, BA ’16, MA ’18

Candice Shy Hooper, MA ’08

Thomas C. Howlett #

Mary Sue L. Howlett #

Jared David Johnson, BA ’13

Bruce D. Jolly *

Stuart J. Keiller *

Diane G. Keiller *

Joseph William Kirschbaum, Ph.D., PhD ’08

William N. Klossner, BA ’71

Alexandra M. Kruse, BA ’17

Robert D. Kurland #

Carol N. Kurland #

Kyle Robert Lamborn, BA ’03, MBA ’07

Kerry L. Lanzo, BA ’15

Brian M. Levinson, BA ’18

Ryan P. Linnen, BA ’18

Dr. Cynthia J. Little, BA ’67

Charles T. Long, Ph.D., PhD ’05

Christel G. McDonald, BA ’86

Nicholas L. McGrath, BA ’14

Lori McGrath *

Estate of Douglas J. Mitchell, MA ’93

Suzanne M. Noel, MA ’83

Vincent M. Nordin, BA ’14, MA ’18 

Lori A. Norris, BA ’10

Lenore Pearlman, BA ’74, Cert ’88

Linda L. Peck, Ph.D. +

Lynn R. Perkins *

Ellyn Charlestein Phillips, BA ’72

Robin K. Pokorski, BA ’14

Ben Profeta *

Karen J. Reap, BA ’64

Nancy Richards-Stower, BA ’73

Edward M. Rickford, BA ’16

Victoria M. Robinson, BA ’11, MA ’13

John B. Rogers *

Beverly B. Rogers *

Bruce M. Rushing, BA ’09

Matthew W. Ryan *

Dr. Lois Green Schwoerer, PhD ’02

Daniel I. Sherman, BA ’01 

Darina B. Sherwood *

John D. Sherwood, Ph.D., MA ’93, PhD ’95 

Shirley Small #

Albert H. Small, JD ’48, HON ’16 

JC Stiassni, BA ’14

Rev. Richard M. Stower, BA ’68, MA ’72

Lori H. Talbot #

Bret M. Talbot #

Robert A. Tanen, MA ’06

Peter T. Veru, MA ’09

Elliot J. Warren, BA ’18

George R. Washington *

Gaines Weaver *

Michael W. Weeks +

Rosa D. Wiener, AA ’54 , BA ’56

James C. Wigren, MA ’85

Susannah M. Wilson, BA ’16

Spencer A. Wong, BA ’18