Posts Tagged 'Timothy G. McMahon'

Historians Working: Awards Season

Late winter and spring are often called “award season” by show-business types: the Golden Globes and Oscars, the Grammys and Tonys—the list goes on and on.

Spring is also award season for academics, and MU Historians have had a very good year! Here’s a list of the grants and awards our friends and colleagues in the history department have earned this year.  Scroll down and you’ll see more detailed descriptions of their projects.

Tim McMahon: Way Klingler Humanities Fellowship

Jenn Finn: Way Klingler Young Scholar Award; Scott R. Jacobs Fund Fellowship for Studies on Alexander the Great

Bryan Rindfleisch: Way Klingler Young Scholar Award; Bright InstituteFellow,Knox College

Kristen Foster: Summer Faculty Fellowship

Chima Korieh: Regular Research Grant/Summer Faculty Fellowship

Cory Haala: Schmitt Fellowship, MU;Paul Simon Congressional Papers Travel Stipend; Dirksen Congressional Research Grant

Lisa Lamson: Center for Transnational Justice Graduate Student Research Grant; Lord Baltimore Research Fellowship, Maryland Historical Society; MU Graduate School Dean’s Research Enhancement Award

Luke Greenwalt: Center for Transnational Justice Graduate Student Research Grant

Sam Harshner: Colonial Dames Research Fellowship

Ben Nestor: Funded Attendee: Teaching Anti-Semitism in the Twenty-First Century, York University (Canada)

Maggie Nettesheim-Hoffman: Travel grant from the Economic History Society at the London School of Economics; Tilly Award from the Social Science History Association.

Laura Matthew: Mellon Grant—“Remembering Madre Rosa: Oral Histories of a Marquette Doctor in Highland Guatemala, 1962-1992.”

Alison Efford: Mellon Grant—“HIST 4120 Collaboration with St. Rafael School to Research the Latino History of Milwaukee,”

Lezlie Knox: Mentor of the Year, Arts and Sciences

Jolene Kreisler: Outstanding Staff Member of the Year, Arts and Sciences

Major faculty research awards: The University makes several research awards funded by the Way Klingler fund each; the awards are made at the Distinguished Scholars Reception every March.  This year three historians were recognized for the past accomplishments and for their ongoing research.

Tim McMahon became the first member of the department to receive a Way Klingler Humanities Fellowship—only one is awarded each year, and it provides $20,000 in research funding for three years. Tim’s book focuses on a pivotal moment in modern British and Irish history—that is, the establishment of two separate states on the island of Ireland in 1921-22.  He seeks to understand the emergence of two distinct national identities in Ireland between 1910 and 1930, building on sociologist Rogers Brubaker’s insight that group identities are not static but occur as events in time that are changeable and analyzable. What makes the presence of the Irish border so important to understanding identity formation in the 1920s is that neither Irish nationalists nor unionists had proposed dividing the island in any serious way prior to 1918. Once the Tim acceptsboundary was in place, however, conflicting forces associated with state-formation on the one hand and civil society on the other created a new dynamic, as island-wide institutions (such as churches) and trade networks adapted to link people in new ways. Indeed, until late in 1925, many thought that the border might cease to exist because Irish and British negotiators had agreed to create a boundary commission to assess exchanging territory according to “the will of the people.” That phrase and the mechanism of a commission to assess the popular “will” came almost directly from the treaties written at the Versailles Conference of 1919, and in fact, staff who served on the Irish Boundary Commission had experience serving on similar commissions in central Europe after Versailles. Placing the Irish case into this context is, thus, critical to understanding what the state actors believed they were doing. But it goes only a limited way toward helping historians assess how the people of Ireland—and especially the people along the new border—saw themselves before the boundary existed, while its existence remained in doubt, or after the British and Irish governments suppressed the Commission’s recommendations. (The border remains intact to this day.) Tracking opinions about border identities before and after partition will enable Tim to move beyond the rhetoric of those claiming to speak on behalf of “Irish” nationalists or “British” unionists to assess the wider population’s own self-conceptions, pace Brubaker. Given the ongoing importance of partition in Ireland and elsewhere in the former British Empire, as well as the implications of the Brexit referendum, a detailed study of identity formation on this frontier has both historical and contemporary resonance.

Bryan Rindfleisch and Jenn Finn became the third and fourth historians to receive Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards(their awards also mark the first time two members of a humanities department have earned the awards in the same year). The awards provide a semester sabbatical and $2000 of research funding.

Bryan acceptsBryan’s first book, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire: Intercultural Family, Trade, & Colonialism in Early America, will be published by the University of Alabama Press in 2019. His new project, for which he was named a Way Klingler Young Scholar, is tentatively called From Creek (Mvskoke) to Cherokee (Tsalagi):The Entangled Histories of Native America, 1600-1800. Bryan’s ambitious goalis to change the ways in which historians understand and articulate the history of Native America by demonstrating the complex and multi-dimensional inter-connections of Indigenous societies in Early America.  His topic will be the intertwined histories of the Creek and Cherokee tribes in the eighteenth century southeast, who through intermarriage and other connections came to share territory and to live in shaed communities.  This led a younger generation of Creeks and Cherokees assert their own political interests separate from that of the traditional structures of authority in their societies. “This,” as Bryan says, “only scratches the surface of many such intersections between Native groups in Early America.”

            Jenn published her first book,Much Ado about Marduk: Questioning Discourses of Royalty in First Millennium Mesopotamian Literature, a year ago. Her Way Klingler Young Scholar award will further her work on a second book, History Rewritten: Revisionism in/on the Age of Alexander the Great,will focus on specific—though not mutually exclusive—ways in which history was represented both during and after Alexander’s Jenn acceptsreign. She will accomplish this through a series of case studies that examine the ways in which Alexander himself—as well as those who recorded his history many centuries later—manipulated received narratives of Mediterranean history to create something entirely new in their own period. In addition to helping  us understanding the phenomenon of historical revisionism, a major goal of the book is to make ancient history accessible to a wider audience of scholars in the Humanities.

Bryan received another honor this spring: he is one of fourteen members of the first cohort of fourteen fellows in the newly established Bright Institute at Knox College, a program for professors who teach early American history at liberal arts colleges. They will attend a two-week, in-residence summer seminar for three years on the Knox campus. Each year’s seminar will be co-hosted by an eminent professor of American history before 1848 and a pedagogical consultant who will help participants turn their research into incisive classroom opportunities.

Read more about this exciting program at https://www.knox.edu/news/bright-institute-announces-first-cohort-of-scholars.

Jenn also received a $2500 research grant from the Scott R. Jacobs Fund Fellowship for Studies on Alexander the Great; it will help fund a research trip to Greece late in the summer.

The Committee on Research offers a number of Summer Faculty Fellowships (SFF) every year, along with Regular Research Grants (RRG). The former pays for two months of time to write or do research; the latter provides funding for travel to archives and other research costs.  This year, two history faculty received grants this year.

Kristin Foster also received an SFF for “Finding Cato Adams,” which is part of a larger book manuscript entitled Haiti’s Mirror: Reflections of Race, Revolution, and Equality in Early Americathat sets American ideas about equality in the context of the revolutionary Atlantic World. “Finding Cato Adams” seeks to recover the lives of free black citizens in Foster01the early Mid-Atlantic. To date, scholars have argued that the founding generation did not support racial equality in early America. This project questions and complicates this argument by asserting that the first generation of Americans shaped a republic of propertied citizens, only moving to a white man’s republic after the violence of the Haitian Revolution. While the voices of Cato Adams and hundreds of free black heads of households in the 1790 census have been hushed by time and distance, their lives are significant as testimonies of black citizenship in revolutionary-era America.

Chima Korieh received a Regular Research Grant and a Summer Faculty Fellowship for Chima-Korieha project tentatively called “The Genuine Farmer: Gender and the Dynamics of Agricultural Change in Colonial Southeastern Nigeria,” which will be a history of the gendered nature of colonial agricultural planning and their impact on agricultural transformation in southeastern Nigeria from 1900 to 1960. Chima will explore the specific circumstances under which rural farmers produced, how colonial planners ignored women, and their effects on rural life. He hopes to show that changing gender relations, local perspectives, ecological and demographic variables, and local responses, offer a better understanding of agricultural policies and agricultural transformation during this crucial period in Nigeria’s history.

 Graduate Student Awards and Fellowships:

Several graduate students also received research funding this spring.  Cory Haala s200_cory.haalareceived one of a handful of Schmitt Fellowships from MU’s graduate school. This provides a full year fellowship to complete research and begin writing his dissertation on “The Progressive Center: Midwestern Liberalism inn the Age of Reagan, 1978-1992.”

The MU Center for Transnational Justice awarded $2500 Graduate Student Research Grants to PhD candidate Lisa Lamson and MA student Luke Greenwalt.  Lisa’s grant will help fund research for her dissertation on “Black Girlhood and Education in Baltimore City, 1820-1890,” while Luke’s will help him complete research on “Patterns of Racism and Nationalism in post-WWII Germany.”

40030Lisa has also received a Lord Baltimore Research Fellowship from the Maryland Historical Society and a Graduate School Dean’s Research Enhancement Award. The former gives her expanded access to the Historical Society’s collection, give her the chance to present her research-in-progress in a brown-bag presentation, write a post for the library’s blog, and submit my finished work for possible publication for the Maryland Historical Magazine.  The latter provides a $5,000 stipend to allow her to prepare and write a major extramural research funding application.

HarshnerSam Harshner received a $4000 Colonial Dames Fellowship to help fund research on his dissertation, which is tentatively called “Pope’s Day and Masculinity: An Ideology of the American Revolution.”

Ben Nestor received full funding to attend a workshop on “Teaching Anti-Semitism in the Twenty-First Century,” at York University (Canada), which is Sponsored by the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto photo-ss-benjamin-nestorand the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. This intensive summer institute is for advanced graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career scholars.

Maggie Nettesheim-Hoffman’s travel grant from the Economic History Society partially funded her travel to the New Directions in American Philanthropy Conference in Sheffield, England, where she delivered the paper, Maggie-Nettesheim“A Menace to the National Welfare: The Final Report of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations & The Progressive Era Critique of American Philanthropic Foundations.”  The Tilly Award from the Social Science History Association recognizes an outstanding graduate student paper at the SSHA’s annual conference (this year in Montreal, Canada); Maggie’s award-winning paper was on“The Philanthropic Factory: Capitalism, Corporate Charity, and Forging New Socio-Economic Worker Identities in Milwaukee,”

Mellon Grants

The College of Arts and Science’s Mellon fund provides funding for projects that enhance undergraduate education. The department has received a number of these grants over the years, many of which have funded public history programming. This year,  Laura Matthew received $13,000 for “Remembering Madre Rosa: Oral Histories of a Marquette Matthew-KS2A8144Doctor in Highland Guatemala, 1962-1992.” She is leading an undergraduate student research team to investigate the history of dozens of Maryknoll Sisters who studied at Marquette in the mid-20th century, then ran a rural regional hospital in the middle of the Guatemalan civil war. The Mellon grant will pay for Laura and the students to travel to Guatemala in the summer of 2018. The  team visited the archives of the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining, NY, over spring break, with support from the Office of International Education.

alisonAlison Efford received nearly $1000 of Mellon funding forHIST 4120 Collaboration with St. Rafael School to Research the Latino History of Milwaukee,” which enables students from St. Rafael School on Milwaukee’s South Side to travel to campus several times during the course of a semester to work on Milwaukee Latino history projects with students in her immigration history class.  William Denzer, a graduate assistant, blogged about this project last spring at Historians@Work (https://marquettehistorians.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/marquette-history-students-collaborate-with-middle-schoolers-to-research-the-latino-history-of-milwaukee/).

Annual Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Awards

            Finally, although not directly related to research, two members of the department received prestigious awards at the annual Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Awards.

Lezlie Knox was named Mentor of the Year.  Honored chiefly for her work as Director of Graduate Studies for half a decade, Lezlie was described by one student supporter in this way:Without her counsel, I may have passed up a number of significant opportunities that proved to be key components in my journey as a scholar. She has a way of listening to her students and understanding the variety of individual strengths we bring to our studies, and makes individual recommendations for success based upon our unique talents. I owe much of my success as a graduate student and as an academic to Dr. Knox. My successes, however, are only one example. She is an advocate for all of her students and has guided many of my colleagues on to similar achievements.  We are stronger students and professional academics, and better prepared for the world outside Marquette University because of Dr. Knox’s work on our behalf.”

IMG_3781Jolene Kreisler was named Outstanding Staff Member. Jolene’s nomination declared thather enthusiastic kindness towards students and her commitment to fulfilling her duties  . . . contributes to the academic mission of the University. Jolene has definitely taken ownership of her position at MU, and considers herself a representative of the university when dealing with students, parents, and other members of the MU community.  She is very, very good at her job, but her demeanor, kindness, professionalism, and good cheer truly separate her from many other administrative assistants on campus.

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Where in the World Are MU Historians?

Years ago PBS aired a popular children’s show called “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” With the clever live-action sketches, animation, and an acapella group, viewers learned geography—not just where a country was on a map, but how the people of those countries lived.

One of the primary objectives of Historians@Work is to present the many “journeys” taken by MU historians and students.  Some are figurative, but many are literal.  The latter is certainly the case in this installment, as we learn about the upcoming summer research adventures of a half dozen of our associate professors.  Each was recently awarded funding from Marquette’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which grants Summer Faculty Fellowships (stipends) and Regular Research Grants (for travel expenses) to two or three dozen Marquette faculty each year.

This summer our band of historians will outdo the fictional Carmen San Diego, as they conduct research in Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, as well as Virginia, California, and Chicago.

This year’s awards, worth over $50,000, made history for our department—we have never received so many awards in a single year. This obviously reflects the interesting subjects these historians are exploring, as well as the success of their previous research.  Below, in their own words, you can read about their projects and their travel plans.

Michael Donoghue: Race, Identity, and Gender in U.S. Military-Cuban Relations 1941-1964  I plan to travel to Cuba and Virginia this upcoming summer to investigate the local records of U.S. Military-Cuban relations from 1941-1964 in Havana and Guantánamo City, Cuba and at the Marine Historical Division in Quantico.  3The focus of my research is on the intersections of race, identity, and gender that occurred between U.S. military personnel and the Cuban people from World War II until the closing of the U.S. Guantánamo naval base from Cuban contact in 1964 – and how these interactions contributed to the anti-American atmosphere of the Cuban Revolution.  I hope that this project will make a significant contribution toward our understanding of the many strands and forces that helped shape the Cuban Revolution beyond, high status actors, larger events, and economic indices, as it focuses on the personal and social relations that contributed to many revolutionary processes.  Michael is author of Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone (2014).

Alison Clark Efford, Suicide and Immigrant Emotions, 1882-1924  I received funding for two research trips, one to San Diego to investigate suicides among Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century and the other to Chicago to research suicide, immigrant Catholicism, and the influential “Chicago School” of sociology. My larger book project explores the negative emotions that sometimes accompanied immigration by addressing the extensively documented act of suicide. I probe the inner lives of a variety of immigrants and shows how suicides drew wider attention to immigrant emotions. As early as 1861, the New York Times noted that the foreig1n-born accounted for about a third of the city’s population but three-quarters of its recorded suicides. By the turn of the century, the suicidality of immigrants was accepted as common wisdom. Whether commentators thought it reflected ethnic characteristics or the trauma of relocation, immigrant suicide became entangled with fears about alienation in modern society and rapid demographic change.  Alison is author of German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (2013)

Lezlie Knox, Mariano of Florence and Religious Life in Cinquecento Italy.    Mariano was a prolific author—in less than 25 years, he wrote fifteen treatises in both Latin and Italian.  These works range from shorter works on devotional themes to lengthy—really lengthy–histories of his religious order (male, female, and lay branches of the Franciscan Order) and his native Tuscany.  Many of these works remain in manuscript, due in no small part to Mariano’s cramped handwriting!  This grant will fund my completion of archival work in Italy, as well as time to do work at the Antonianum, the Franciscan Order’s pontifical university in Rome, which has one of the best libraries for my subject.  However, I am not just interested in Mariano as a Franciscan historian, but also in the ways his works describes religious culture in the towns and ecclesiastical centers of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Italy.  My study of his life and writings contributes to a broader 2understanding of society and culture during the later Middle Ages, particularly one which approaches that era as vital in its own right rather than symptomatic of later medieval decay or, conversely, a threshold to the humanistic attractions of the Renaissance.  Lezlie is author of Creating Clare of Assisi: Female Franciscan Identities in Later Medieval Italy (2008) and co-editor of the forthcoming Visions of Sainthood in Medieval Rome:  The Lives of Margherita Colonna by Giovanni Colonna and Stefania.  She has also received a $3000 Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to help fund this research.

Laura Matthew: Circulations: Death and Opportunity on Mesoamerica’s Costa del Sur, 1500-1630  I will devote the summer to research for a book-length project examining migration, networks, and trade along Mesoamerica’s southern Pacific6 Coast in the century after European invasion. The SFF and RRG will fund a deep foray into the Guatemalan national archives, a first exploration of the regional archives of Chiapas, and travel along the routes described in the documents to achieve a more grounded sense of the places and spaces she is writing about.  Laura is author of Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (2012), recipient of the 2013 Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History and the 2013 Murdo MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association. 

Timothy G. McMahon, Beyond the Boundary Commission: Partitioned Identities in Modern Ireland   The United Kingdom government partitioned the island of Ireland through legislation in 1920, creating two states that claimed distinct identities (Northern Ireland as British, the Irish Free State as Irish). Partition had, however, been proposed and rejected on two prior occasions by many of the people who seemingly embraced it in the 1920s. A the new states sought to reinforce the distinctiveness of their populations, people living on either side of the new border continued to interact in spite of the new reality. The present project builds on the work of Rogers Brubaker to propose a new way of thinking about how the reality of a novel state boundary shaped identities, examining the 4interdependence of daily lived experience with movement politics and parliamentary legislation. Given the recent Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the possible shake-up of the United Kingdom—which has already seen calls from some in Scotland to secede and from some in Ireland and Northern Ireland to examine the relevance of the existing border—a detailed study of identity formation on this frontier has both historical and contemporary relevance. My proposal will enable me to undertake three weeks of archival research in Dublin and Belfast before spending approximately six weeks drafting an article to address the changed attitudes of the early 1920s.  Tim is author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893-1910 (2008) and editor of the memoir Pádraig Ó Fathaigh’s War of Independence: Recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (2000).

Peter Staudenmaier, The Politics of Blood and Soil: Environmental Ideals in Nazi GermanyMy project aims toward a book manuscript examining controversial historical questions about the role of environmental protection efforts and ecological sustainability within the Nazi regime. Though scholars in a variety of fields recognize the prominence of “blood and soil” ideology in the Third Reich – the belief in an essential link between natural regeneration and racial renewal – there is no consensus on its historical significance or practical relevance. My research represents the first comprehensive analysis of the topic, based on extensive archival research5 over the past five years. It is structured around three main case studies: the emergence of early alternative agricultural movements during the Weimar era and their reception under Nazi rule; the role of Nazi “advocates for the landscape” in environmental planning during the Third Reich; and the ecological components of Nazi policy in conquered territories in Eastern Europe during World War II. I plan to use the Summer Faculty Fellowship to complete the final stages of research and begin writing the book.   Peter is author of Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era (2014).

Commemorating Easter 1916

By Timothy G. McMahon

On Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, nearly 1,500 men and women in Dublin launched what came to be known as the Easter Rising, the prelude to the Irish War of Independence of 1919-21. Over the ensuing days, several hundred more in counties Galway, Louth, Meath, and Wexford joined in this effort to create an independent republic. Plans had called for even more to participate, but a series of events—including the failed landing of an anticipated arms shipment from Germany and a countermanding order from the chief of staff of the paramilitary group being used surreptitiously by the rebel leaders to carry out their design—thwarted that larger enterprise. Nonetheless, the rebels held out for six days before surrendering.

Among the factors that led to greater retrospective sympathy for them, three stood out. The first was the harsh response from the United Kingdom leadership, which was understandably shaken and angered by such an event on the home front while the country was embroiled in the Great War: Rebel leaders faced courts martial and execution, while nearly 3,500 others—many of whom had had nothing to do with the Rising—faced arrest and periods of imprisonment that lasted from a few weeks to nearly 15 months. The second was the recasting of the executed leaders as martyrs, aided in part by the glossing over of their often radical (if not fully anti-clerical) pasts by a new generation of leaders

IMG_0200

An original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on display in Dublin.

who appealed to the Catholic strain that had motivated many Irish nationalists of the pre-Rising period. And the third was the breadth of their political idealism, expressed in their Proclamation of the Irish Republic, drafted by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly and read outside of the rebel headquarters in the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin at the start of the Rising. Its call to “Irishmen and Irishwomen” and its promise to cherish “all the children of the nation equally” seemed a far cry from the traditional politics of the island. What is beyond question is that the move to a more independent Irish state than had been on offer prior to the Great War began in earnest that April Monday.

 

Little wonder, then, that the Republic of Ireland determined to mark this year’s Easter weekend (27-28 March) with a spectacular series of public events in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Rising. I had the great good fortune to attend as an invited speaker at two venues on Easter Monday and as an interested spectator for the rest of the weekend—because these events conveniently coincided with Marquette’s long spring break this year. Falling in the middle of what Irish people are calling the Decade of Commemorations (or Decade of Centenaries), these events featured everything from solemn wreath-laying ceremonies at sites redolent with echoes from the Rising (such as the prison exercise yard where the leaders faced the firing squad) to the opening of new museum exhibits, and from the holding of public concerts to the presentation of more than 100 panels that explored aspects of the Rising from various academic perspectives. (Depending on the venue and time, panels included historians, literary scholars, sociologists, or political scientists.)

72342_10153406024515308_1948023962092155836_nThe central public action was a parade that wound through the center of Dublin and past a reviewing stand of dignitaries that included the elected President (Michael D. Higgins) and Acting Taoiseach (or Prime Minister) Enda Kenny. Along the route, giant viewing screens enabled the assembled crowds—estimated at well over half a million people—to watch a live feed of the parade broadcast on the national television network, RTÉ. In the middle of the parade, the marchers paused so that a member of the Irish Defense Forces, wearing the uniform of the Irish Volunteers (the paramilitaries at the time of the Rising), came to the front of the GPO to read the proclamation. A band struck up the national anthem (“The Soldier’s Song,” in Irish “Amhrán na bhFiann”), which the assembled crowds along the parade route joined in singing. What made that moment particularly poignant for me, as a historian of the Irish-language revival, was that the 40-50,000 or so gathered on College Green where I stood sang the Irish lyrics to the song spontaneously. At what was a particularly solemn moment of commemoration, they chose to use the first national language, a language that all had been taught as a school subject but that a relatively small percentage use on a regular basis, yet it was that language which—for whatever reason—expressed their collective sensibility at that moment.

In addition to witnessing the parade (albeit with an obstructed view, thus my own reliance on one of the aforementioned big screens), I will relish four particular memories. First, visiting the newly opened “Proclaiming a Republic” exhibit at the National Museum of 12321263_10153402990215308_1031891175934311784_nIreland’s Collins Barracks location. This superb and extensive collection of items from the revolutionary period includes an original copy of the Easter Proclamation (owned by one of the women prominent in the revolution, Dr. Kathleen Lynd), as well as the flags flown by the Volunteers atop the General Post Office and that of the Irish Citizen Army, which these labor activists raised above the Imperial Hotel as a particular act of defiance against the hotel’s owner, William Martin Murphy, whose conflict with the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union led to the creation of the ICA.

IMG_0267

Liam McMahon exploring the Gaelic League HQ.

Second, my family’s tour of the present headquarters of the Gaelic League, the organization at the heart of my work on the language revival, with its present archivist Cuan Ó Seireadáin. I had visited there years ago doing research, but what made this two hours completely enthralling was that the building at No. 6 Harcourt Street was, during the revolutionary decade, the headquarters of the Sinn Féin party and the republican women’s organization Cumann na mBan. Cuan pulled out all the stops, including having my children read from witness statements from Ireland’s Bureau of Military History about raids on the room we were

12919644_1063137253727515_4881862835606942582_n

The author (blue sweater, right of center) speaks at the Royal Irish Academy.

standing in—which just happened to have been Michael Collins’s office. Third, having the chance to speak at events on Easter Monday, including a talk in the Royal Irish Academy sponsored by the Digital Repository of Ireland and the Inspiring Ireland digitization project. That talk highlighted the part played by Bulmer Hobson in reinvigorating the revolutionary Irish Republican Brotherhood. It also underlined the irony that his opposition to the Rising led to his being held over Easter weekend in 1916 by his former comrades. In the audience that day were descendants of Mortimer O’Connell, one of the IRB men who kept Hobson at bay. Meeting them at that moment was extraordinary. And fourth, attending a roundtable on the historical legacies of the Rising that featured an address by President Higgins and talks by leading scholars in my field, including Mary E. Daly and Diarmaid Ferriter of University College, Dublin, and Kevin Whelan and Bríona Nic Dhiarmada of the University of Notre Dame.

 

Needless to say, I had much to share with graduate students in my seminar on Memory, Commemoration and Material Culture when I returned to the USA, but the experience also enhanced what was already shaping up as an amazing experience with my undergraduate students in Irish history. They were participating in a special interdisciplinary program that I had planned out with my colleague Dr. Leah Flack from the Department of English.

Knowing that people would be commemorating the Rising and reflecting on its impact over time, we hoped to ask questions such as “What creates revolutions? How do people process what is happening around them? How do they reflect back on those experiences as they build a new state and society?” With Leah scheduled to teach her course on Irish literature during the same term I would run my course on Modern Irish History, we proposed to do things: first, we would link our courses to focus on the period surrounding the foundation of the modern Irish Republic (me) and on the poetry, short stories, novels, and plays that interrogated the revolution’s impact throughout the twentieth century (Leah); and second, we would host a series of public lectures and in-class discussions featuring major scholars in the field whose works would be among the readings we used in our classes. We, therefore, applied for a Mellon Grant from the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences to fund this interdisciplinary look at the Irish Revolution that we called “Reconsidering the Rising.”

We launched our “reconsideration” in January with the College’s endorsement. I led off the lecture series in early February with a look at the role of land agitation from the 1870s through the early 1920s. Professor Mary Trotter of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an expert on Irish theater and literature, visited in early March, discussing the important role of women as cultural and political revolutionaries. Professor Brian Ó Conchubhair of the University of Notre Dame, who publishes widely in Irish- and English-language publications on the Gaelic revival in language and sport, came in early April. Later that month, Professor R. F. Foster of Hertford College, Oxford, addressed questions about the expectations and hopes of the revolutionary generation, as well as their disappointment with aspects of the independence achieved in the 1920s. And Leah concluded the series with a wide-ranging discussion of literature from James Joyce through Seamus Heaney to Colum McCann.

Individually, each talk addressed a different aspect of the revolutionary era; collectively, they raised numerous issues for our students to consider, especially about the importance of taking interdisciplinary approaches to questions as profound as what leads to revolution. Of course, every answer raised further questions, including what constitutes a revolution and whether or not what occurred in Ireland between 1916 and 1922 constituted a revolution. (I am of the opinion that a revolution did occur, albeit not the one that the planners of the Easter Rising anticipated, but I recognize that such questions remain fiercely debated.) Bringing them up with our students—alongside scholars noted for their innovative readings of the period under review—was truly exciting. Watching Marquette students asking our visitors about their evidence, about their methodology, and about the stumbling blocks they had to overcome in the research process was one of the highlights of my fifteen years on campus. So too was reading their final papers and examinations, which provided ample evidence that they had incorporated insights from our visitors into some of the most sophisticated reading of sources and argumentation that I have seen from undergraduates.

Since coming to Marquette in 2001, I have tried to remain cognizant of the strong tradition of Irish scholarship here, and I have sought to extend that line in my work, always with the support of colleagues in the department, the College, and the Graduate School. This spring carried that support to a new level, such that those few days in Ireland in March, coupled with the “Reconsidering the Rising” program, made Spring 2016 one of the most intense, challenging, and delightful terms of my career.

Tim McMahon is associate professor of history at Marquette, the author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893-1910 (Syracuse, 2008), and editor of the memoir Pádraig Ó Fathaigh’s War of Independence: Recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (Cork, 2000). He is currently writing a monograph tentatively entitled Éire Imperator: Ireland’s Imperial Ambivalence .

Benedict Anderson: An Appreciation

By Timothy G. McMahon

Late in 2015 saw the passing of Benedict Anderson, Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government & Asian Studies at Cornell University. His book Imagined Communities (first published in 1983) is a staple in discussions of nations and nationalism, subjects that are at the heart of much of my research, and I have been wrestling with his ideas for more than two decades now and inviting my students to join that struggle too. Indeed, just before Anderson’s death, my graduate readings course debated and wrote papers on the method and implications of his adaptations of Walter Benjamin’s ideas.

Had Andandersonerson (1936-2015) never written IC, however, it is likely that I would have encountered him (or at least his father) at some point in my research into Irish actors in the British Empire. The elder Anderson, you see, was an Anglo-Irishman whose career took him to China, where he worked for the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs Service, which had been overseen by another Irishman, Sir Robert Hart, from the 1860s through the first decade of the twentieth century. Hart’s voluminous papers are vital source material for scholars of nineteenth-century China, but (as I hope to show in the near future), they are also important records of Irish engagement with the world beyond the United Kingdom. Hart famously recruited European agents to oversee his Chinese staff—the majority of whom came from Ireland and Britain—and among the many traits he required of his subordinates was a facility with Mandarin and a respect for indigenous customs. Facility with languages beyond English seems to have passed through the generations in the Anderson family, as an appreciative piece in the New Republic noted over the weekend. Benedict alone could read Dutch, German, Spanish Russian, and French and was fully conversant in Indonesian, Javanese, Tagalog, and Thai, though he claimed in the 2006 edition of IC that English and Indonesian were the only two languages in which he felt truly at home.

That comment came near the end of the Afterword that Anderson included in the 2006 edition, which might seem at first blush a self-serving 22-page homage to how widely known IC had become since it first appeared. But I choose to read these pages, and particularly its concluding sentence, as a call to the rest of us to pick up the baton where Anderson left it. What is, after all, the intent of scholarship? It is to seek out new knowledge, both for its own sake and for the sake of informing wider audiences, whether in the classroom or the public sphere beyond the university. Too often these days we hear universities and faculties portrayed as out of touch with the “real world” and in need of a reminder of their duty to their students—a charge that I find laughable when not offensive given the work I know colleagues put into their careers. It is difficult to envision someone more engaged in the real world than Anderson, whose wider career looked deeply at southeast Asia and especially at Indonesia, deeply enough in fact that he was banned from Indonesia for several decades after his work had exposed some of the worst atrocities of the Suharto regime.

In no way am I suggesting that all of us—or even a high percentage of us—would ever have that kind of impact, but in his recognition that translations of IC had subtly changed its meaning for different audiences (“IC is not my book anymore,” he once wrote), Anderson offers the most generous piece of advice to scholars and students that one possibly can.1 It is that what we are all really involved in is a prolonged conversation, a game of telephone, in which our ideas become part of a stream of others’ ideas that, over time, helps us to perceive our world with greater clarity and, hopefully, to act accordingly. That is a vision I can imagine with a smile.

  1. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London and New York: Verso, 2006 rev. ed.), p. 229.

 

Tim McMahon is associate professor of history and Vice President of the American Conference of Irish Studies. He is the author of Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893-1910 (Syracuse, 2008) and editor of the memoir Pádraig Ó Fathaigh’s War of Independence: Recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (Cork, 2000). He is currently writing a monograph tentatively entitled Éire Imperator: Ireland’s Imperial Ambivalence.


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