An article published June 18 in the Baltimore Sun examined a digital history project documenting the unrest surrounding the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Denise Meringolo, an associate professor of history, is collaborating with the Maryland Historical Society and University of Baltimore to collect images, oral histories, and videos taken by everyday citizens documenting the events. Meringolo, who is featured in the article, set up a website for the project.
“I decided to establish a site that allows people to participate directly in the act of collecting,” Meringolo said. “When you study social movements from the past, sometimes what’s missing are the experiences and perceptions of the people who were in that moment. You find the official reports, but it’s very difficult to get a sense of what that protest was like viscerally from the ground view.”
To read the article in the Baltimore Sun, click here. For additional coverage by the Associated Press, click here. To learn more about the project, visit baltimoreuprising2015.org.
In a June 15 op-ed in Al Jazeera America, history professor Kate Brown examined the impact of Russia’s foreign agents law on the country’s civil society and environmental activists. The law requires organizations that receive funding from abroad to register as foreign agents, and the law as it was originally written excluded environmental advocacy groups.
However, Brown wrote in her column that the law has recently been used with broad application to abolish NGO’s that prevent development in Russia. “The ease with which the law can be abused could spell disaster both for Russian civil society and environmental regulation.”
With the way the law is constructed, Brown wrote that it makes it difficult for outside groups to intervene: “The multi-faceted utility of the law makes it an enticing tool, one that is increasingly difficult for NGOs to surmount. In part because of the U.S. history of spying on enemies and allies alike, there appears to be little that can be done from outside Russia without exacerbating charges of foreign meddling. As during the Soviet period, those in the United States can only watch and report,” she wrote.
To read the full column titled “Russia Uses ‘Foreign Agents’ Law to Muzzle Dissent,” click here.
On Memorial Day, The Conversation published a series of insights into wars that have been waged and their aftermath. Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history, published an article that gave voice to the Union soldiers in Sherman’s Army and their view of their impact on the end of the Civil War.
“Sherman’s veterans, at least those who spoke and wrote publicly about their experiences, were remarkably untroubled by the war they made against civilians. They looked at the march not as something that broke the laws of war, but instead as one of the great experiences of their lives,” Rubin wrote.
“For all their minimizing of hardships and the horrors of war, they well understood what they fought for, and they believed wholeheartedly that their march, their efforts, had brought the war to an end,” she added. “They never wavered in their belief that the march was necessary. The Confederacy had brought destruction on itself by tearing apart the Union, they believed, and it was the duty of these soldiers to reunite the nation, by any means at their disposal.”
To read the full article titled “The grand review of Sherman’s Bummers,” click here. Rubin is author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014).
A team of professors and students across several disciplines have worked together to develop “Bandit,” a video game in which players control a fox that navigates the streets during Civil War-era Baltimore. The game is one of two developed this semester in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor Marc Olano’s game development class. The group collaborated with students in the history department and Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history, to develop viewpoints of diverse actors in the Pratt Street Riots.
The work was featured in a Daily Record article published on May 19: “The game-design students initially pitched several game ideas to the history class, and Rubin said she and her history students were fond of a proposed mystery-style game because they thought it would lend itself more readily to the teaching of history. But the animal-focused game was the most feasible to produce, so that became the choice. ‘We’re really happy with how this turned out,’ Rubin said.”
To read about the Bandit video game presentation at URCAD 2015, click here. To read the article “At UMBC, a taste of professional life for game designers” in the Daily Record, click here (subscription required). For additional coverage in Baltimore Tech, click here.
History Professor Kate Brown will soon publish a new book at the end of May on her experiences traveling and conducting research in the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, the basement of a hotel in Seattle, Ukraine, Russia, and Illinois. The book, titled Dispatches from Dystopia (University of Chicago Press) examines the histories of places that have been silenced, contaminated, or broken and the lives of people who remain in those places.
The work recently received a positive review from Inside Higher Ed columnist Scott McLemee. “So for the first several pages of Dispatches From Dystopia I braced myself, only to find that Brown is the rare case of someone who can incorporate a number of registers of narrative and reflection within the same piece of writing, shifting among them with grace and quiet confidence. Her essays might be called position papers: topographical surveys of historical sites, with the mapmaker’s own itinerary sketched in,” he wrote.
“Brown’s first-person reflections are embedded in narratives and place descriptions that are more intricate and varied than a reviewer can even begin to suggest, and certain issues and motifs link the essays in ways that would probably reward a second reading. Each piece, like the volume as a whole, is an example of nonfiction that uses the first person, rather than just indulges it,” McLemee added.
The review contains several excerpts from the book. To read the full article, click here. For more information about the book, due out May 30, click here.
Brown’s book was also reviewed by the Los Angeles Review of Books on May 31st. To read the complete article, click here.
In light of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble telescope, Joseph Tatarewicz, an associate professor of history, was quoted extensively in a Christian Science Monitor article and reflected on the hype and drama surrounding the telescope.
In the article, Tatarewicz called it a ” “Perils of Pauline” saga with emotional highs and lows, such as the botched-mirror episode. From its very beginning, each time Hubble hit a low, it rebounded, Tatarewicz said, “but before it rebounded, to one degree or another, the future of the agency and spaceflight hung on it. It’s just a good story.”
With the telescope’s high expectations to gather crisp images with unprecedented detail, Tatarewicz said he would marvel with his colleagues at the claims the telescope’s supporters were making. “We occasionally would say the hype is getting out of hand,” he recalled. “The irony is that it has exceeded expectations on almost everything you can think of.”
To read the full article in the Christian Science Monitor titled “Hubble: The people’s telescope at 25,” click here.
With news coverage this week surrounding the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s death, the Baltimore Sun published a story examining Catonsville’s connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. The article looked at Booth’s time as a student at St. Timothy’s Hall preparatory school in Catonsville.
Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014) is quoted in the article and provided perspective on the environment that Booth studied in.
“The thing about Maryland was that it was very divided,” said Rubin. The article also states: “Throughout his adolescence, Rubin said, Booth was far from alone in his support for the Confederacy. There was a large contingent of people living in Maryland at the time Booth was growing up who sympathized with the Southern cause and who, during the war, operated various underground networks to smuggle supplies to the southern states.”
To read the full article titled “Catonsville’s connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth,” click here.