Kate Brown, History, Awarded ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, Publishes Op-ed in Time

History Professor Kate Brown has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Collaborative Research Fellowship to study the long-term effects of low doses of radiation on human health in the context of the Chernobyl disaster nearly three decades ago. Brown will be working with Timothy Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist at the University of South Carolina.

Kate Brown

The two scholars, with Brown providing the humanist perspective and Mousseau the scientist perspective, will collaborate to explore how knowledge and ignorance of the impact of the disaster has been produced over the last thirty years. The project will aim to historically analyze three decades of scientific research on Chernobyl and Fukushima to highlight the known and debated impact on humans, animals, and plants from long term, low dose exposure to radiation. The research comes at a time when nuclear power is being discussed as a solution to climate change and energy independence.

The project, titled Chernobyl Revisited: An Historical Inquiry into the Practice of Knowing, will run for two years. For more information on the ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship program, click here.

In related news, Brown published an op-ed on January 21 in Time that discussed nuclear waste cleanup at the Hanford plutonium plant in eastern Washington State. In her article, she analyzed why the cleanup has been such a prolonged, difficult problem to deal with: “…the former Hanford plutonium plant became the largest nuclear clean-up site in the western hemisphere. It costs taxpayers a billion dollars a year,” she wrote.

To read the full column titled “How the Atomic Age Left Us a Half-Century of Radioactive Waste,” click here.

Anne Rubin, History, on Journal of American History Podcast

Through the Heart of DixieThe Journal of American History (JAH) produces a monthly podcast interview with an author of a JAH article or author of a book on a historical topic. Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014), was the guest on JAH’s November podcast. She was interviewed about her book and discussed how she first became interested in researching Sherman’s March in graduate school.

“The endurance of it is the power of Sherman’s March as a metaphor,” Rubin said. “In the South, people feel it very viscerally obviously in Georgia and the Carolinas. But elsewhere it has come to be this symbol of devastation, and destruction, and fire.”

Rubin’s book analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time. She analyzes stories from travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers to highlight the metaphorical importance of Sherman’s March in American memory.

To listen to the complete podcast interview conducted by JAH editor Edward Linenthal, click here.

Kate Brown, History, Named to Physics World 2014 Books of the Year List

History Professor Kate Brown has been named to the Physics World 2014 Books of the Year list for her book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013). Physics World is a publication issued by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics. Below is an excerpt describing the process for selecting the ten best books of the year:


“As in previous years, the entries on our ‘Book of the Year’ shortlist are all well written, novel and scientifically interesting for a physics audience. They represent the best of the 57 books that Physics World reviewed in 2014, being highly commended by external experts (the diverse group of professional physicists and freelance science writers who review books for the magazine) and by members of our own editorial staff, who helped winnow the field down to a shortlist of 10.”

In a blog post announcing the finalists, Physics World provided the following description for Brown’s book:

“This hard-hitting look at life in the ‘atomic cities’ that produced plutonium for the US and Soviet nuclear arsenals during the Cold War will make compelling reading for many physicists. Those who have a professional interest in radiation safety or the nuclear industry will have special reason to be outraged by the long list of environmental crimes described in Kate Brown’s important book, which also featured in a Physics World podcast earlier this year.”

The winner of the physics book of the year will be announced in a podcast on December 16. For more information, click here. The honor was the latest in a series of awards that Brown has received for Plutopia.

Anne Rubin, History, on WYPR’s Humanities Connection, Receives Wall Street Journal Book Review

On Thursday, November 20, History Associate Professor Anne Rubin appeared on WYPR’s Humanities Connection to discuss her research and digital humanities project, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” The project uses digital storytelling to explore Sherman’s historic 1864 March to the Sea during the Civil War. On December 2, Rubin will further discuss her research with Visual Arts Associate Professor Kelley Bell at the Humanities Forum at UMBC.

Through the Heart of Dixie

Earlier this year, Rubin published, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014). In the book, Rubin analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time.

On November 14, the Wall Street Journal published a review of Rubin’s book. Written by author Fergus M. Bordewich, he states: “Anne Sarah Rubin…offers an engrossing exploration of the ways in which the march has been recounted and understood over the years. She notes that it ‘has come to stand for devastation and destruction, fire and brimstone, war against civilians, and for the Civil War in microcosm.'”

He later adds: “Ms. Rubin is more interested in the often contradictory ways in which white and black Southerners, and Union veterans, remembered the march…In essence, there is no single story of Sherman’s March but thousands, and though the Union forces wreaked havoc on the towns in Sherman’s path, their actions do not add up to the apocalyptic barbarism that plays such a role in Lost Cause mythology. That mythology, Ms. Rubin makes clear, was crafted by the Jim Crow politics and resurgent Southern chauvinism of the post-Reconstruction period.”

To read the complete review titled, “The Path to Power,” click here (subscription required).

Constantine Vaporis, Asian Studies, Presents Lecture on the Samurai in Japanese and World History

vaporisWhile on sabbatical this semester, Asian Studies Program Director and History Professor Constantine Vaporis recently presented a lecture at Leiden University in the Netherlands on the Samurai in Japanese and world history. A description of the event can be found below:

“It would be difficult to find any aspect of Japanese culture that has had as long and strong a hold on the popular imagination, both in Japan and abroad, than the samurai and the code of ethics and conventions associated with them, known asbushidô. Using literary works, print images, museum exhibitions, film and other elements of popular culture as sources, this lecture will focus on the theme of the samurai as metaphor or trope for Japan, as a symbol of national identity, and explore the uses to which the symbol has been put, in Japan and abroad.”

Vaporis has received numerous fellowships for research in Japanese history including a Fulbright Scholar’s Award and an NEH Fellowship for College Teachers. Earlier this year, Vaporis was named a Smithsonian Journeys expert for tours of Japan. As a director, the Smithsonian Journeys program will periodically ask Vaporis to lead tours in Japan, with the first one set for 2015.

For more information on the lecture at Leiden University, click here.

Anne Rubin, History, Publishes Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory

Through the Heart of DixieAnne Rubin, an associate professor of history, has been presenting a series of talks throughout the fall while on sabbatical. She has been discussing her new book, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014). In the book, Rubin analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time.

Rubin is scheduled to appear on WYPR’s Humanities Connection on November 27 to discuss her interactive online storytelling project, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” She will also be presenting a Humanities Forum event at UMBC on December 2 discussing her work. For more information, click here. Earlier in the fall, Rubin was quoted in a Washington Post article about Sherman’s March and provided insight on Sherman’s strategy. To read the full article, click here.

A complete list of talks presented by Rubin can be found below:

18-21: Flair Symposium in Austin, TX
23: Atlanta History Center

12: Southern Festival of the Book
20: Talk at George Mason University
22: Talk at Villanova University

1: Reading at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.
7: Talk in Augusta, GA
12: Talk in Milledgeville, GA
13-16: Southern Historical Association in Atlanta

2: Talk at UMBC
9: Filson Historical Society, Louisville

21: Talk at UT Chattanooga

16-17: Conference on Sherman in Columbia, SC

George Derek Musgrove, History, in the New York Times

On October 30, the New York Times published an article about the Washington, D.C. mayoral election and how changing demographics in the District could affect the race. The article notes that a surge of roughly 80,000 new voters in the District in recent years could make the election outcome less certain than many expect.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, associate professor of history, was interviewed for the article. The excerpt from the story can be found below:

“This race has a fascinating set of circumstances,” said George Derek Musgrove, a historian at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who is writing a book on race and democracy in the District of Columbia.

Chief among them, Professor Musgrove said, is the shrinking black population in this city of about 650,000 people. It declined 11 percent from 2001 to 2011, while the white population increased by 31 percent, and the Asian population increased, too.

“No one knows how many new residents will vote, or in what numbers,” Professor Musgrove said.

Further, he said, residents, particularly the poor, have looked at the record of the past three administrations on the key issues of education and affordable housing and seen little progress. “Folks don’t quite know if Muriel Bowser can deal with those two problems, so there is a critical mass of people who are willing to try something new.”

To read the complete article, click here.