The History Department is pleased to welcome all new members of the Trojan Family.  Here, we shine a light on a few of the accomplishments of new additions to our wonderful department.  Fight on!


The History Department Welcomes Gina Greene

We are delighted to welcome Gina Greene to Los Angeles, to USC, and to the History Department.  Dr. Greene will arrive in the summer to take up her recent appointment as a USC Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities.  This program is a key element in USC’s distinctive contribution to scholarship and academic excellence in the realm of the humanities.  Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars will play a pivotal part in fostering the strengths of the humanities at USC, and they will link the expertise of USC faculty and doctoral students with the knowledge and insights gained from their own research and scholarship.

Gina Greene completed her doctorate in Architectural History at Princeton University. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and her M.A. in Art and Architectural History from UC Riverside. Her research is remarkably interdisciplinary, exploring especially the intersection between public health and the built environment from a historical perspective. In her dissertation, she examined the collaborative efforts of physicians and architects in late nineteenth- and early twentieth- century France as they strove to reduce high rates of infant and child mortality through modifications to the built environment. It is a project that makes a critical intervention into the history of early twentieth-century public health policy by demonstrating how architecture became intimately involved in broader social hygiene movements in France. Since completing her graduate work, Dr. Greene has been a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania; this appointment has allowed her to continue studying the historical relationship between public health initiatives and architectural design in an American context.


We recently asked Dr. Greene a few questions about her research and teaching.

     1.  Tell us about your work -- what are your major interests?  What are you working on right now?

My scholarly interests focus on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European and American architecture, urbanism, and visual culture, and their intersections with histories of medicine and technology, particularly as such intersections are complicated by cultural attitudes towards race and gender. Right now I have two major projects underway. One is turning my dissertation into a book manuscript. The projected manuscript, Children in Glass Houses: Toward a Hygienic, Eugenic Architecture for Children during the Third Republic in France (1870-1940), examines an eclectic array of architectural spaces and technologies ranging from incubators to infant hygiene centers that were developed to improve children’s health. The other major project I am developing is tentatively titled Architecture in Utero: From Maternity Ward to Maternal Environment and looks at the history of maternity care in the United States through the lens of the built environment.

     2.  Tell us about your education -- where, what you studied, with whom?

My background is interdisciplinary. I studied literature and fine arts at Harvard as an undergraduate before returning to school to do graduate work. I have an M.A. in Art and Architectural History from U.C. Riverside where I worked with Pat Morton and wrote my thesis on luxury brothels in fin-de-siècle France. These have a peculiar history that intersects with visual culture, literature, architecture, and urban design.  In 2012, I received my Ph.D. in Architectural History from Princeton University where I developed my dissertation under the supervision of faculty in the School of Architecture and the Department of History.  Right now I am completing a postdoctoral fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where I have been looking broadly at the historical intersection of the built environment and public health.

    3.   What are some of your favorite classes to teach?

I love to take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. In the fall I will be teaching a European urban history course and I intend to integrate a great deal of material from the domains of architecture, visual culture, and literature. Going forward, I hope to develop a course that examines architecture, war, and propaganda in the twentieth century.  I am also interested in developing a course on the historical evolution of the visual and material culture of medicine.

     4.  When did you know you wanted to be an historian?

The desire to understand how other people lived, what they believed, and why they believed it has been a constant in my life.  And I’ve always been interested in the stories at the margins. Being a historian who draws a great deal on architectural and visual culture allows me to complicate and supplement dominant historical narratives in a way that feels more holistic to me.

Dr. Greene will teach HIST 429: Street Life: Urban Culture in Modern Europe in the Fall of 2014.


The History Department Welcomes Shaun Ossei-Owusu

We are delighted to welcome to USC Shaun Ossei-Owusu, who has recently accepted our offer to become the inaugural Doheny Postdoctoral Scholar, a position jointly-established between the USC Libraries and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.


Shaun will arrive in the summer of 2014.  We asked him a few questions about his background and his work.

      1.  Tell us about your work -- what are your major interests?

I am an interdisciplinary socio-legal scholar.  My work sits at the intersection of history, law, sociology, and African American studies.  My interests include race, class, and gender; legal inequality; urban history; criminal justice; and public health.

     2.  Tell us about your education -- where, what you studied, with whom? 

I’ll receive my PhD from the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley this spring.  My primary advisors have been Ula Taylor and Charles Henry at Berkeley.  I’m also a JD candidate at Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law.  I completed an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Africana Studies and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (where I worked with Deborah Thomas and John Jackson Jr.).  My undergraduate degree is in Communication Studies from Northwestern University.

      3.   You lived near campus before; tell us when that was at what you remember about USC and/or                 Los Angeles.

As an undergraduate, I participated in Northwestern’s Los Angeles internship program, where I spent six months interning at Warner Bros. and lived two blocks from USC’s campus.  What particularly impressed me was the school pride possessed by students and alumni.

     4.  What will you be working on as the Doheny Postdoctoral Fellow?

I developed an interest in social science history while conducting his dissertation research, which explored the historical development of legal aid institutions and public defender offices. Los Angeles created the United States’ first public defender office in 1914, which piqued my interest in public administration in LA.  While at USC, I expect to turn my dissertation into a book manuscript and continue archival research on my second project, which examines the evolution of Los Angeles’ public health and criminal justice bureaucracies and their relationship to race, class, gender, and citizenship.  I am excited about conducting this research at USC, which hosts rich archival collections on LA’s administrative state as well as an impressive cadre of scholars who specialize in the history of Southern California.

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