Department News

April 2016

The Department of History is pleased to announce that our doctoral student Christian Paiz, has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.  Congratulations Christian!

Please join us in congratulating Dave Neumann, our Americanist doctoral student colleague, who has just been offered a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in History-Social Sciences Education at Cal Poly, Pomona.  Congratulations Dave!

Wolf Gruner’s new book “The Persecution of the Jews in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. Local Initiatives, Central decisions, Jewish Responses 1933-1945”, will be published in German by Wallstein Verlag this fall. He was invited to give the keynote “Forgotten experiences. Video Testimonies as a Source for Holocaust Research” and to serve as a participant of the concluding roundtable at the international conference “The Future of Holocaust Testimonies IV”, on 8 March 2016 at Western Galilee College, Akko, Israel, organized by The Holocaust Studies Program of Western Galilee College, The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia, and the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. At Cornell University, he gave the invited Lecture “Defiance and Protest. Forgotten individual Jewish Reactions to Nazi Persecution” at the Departments of History and Jewish Studies on 17 March 2016, as well as hosted a workshop “Introduction to the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive” for faculty and graduate students on 18 March 2016.

Sarah Gualtieri presented a paper in Mexico City at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Santa Fe as part of the colloquium “Diversidades del Mundo Árabe.”  She spoke on Syrian migration to Mexico and California in transnational perspective. Gualtieri will also be the keynote speaker at the Arab American Civic Council’s Heritage Gala on April 24, in Laguna Hills.

Chinese translation of Brett Sheehan’s Trust in Troubled Times (Harvard, 2003) was published by Cishu Press in affiliation with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences: Shi Hanbo 史瀚波. Luanshi zhong e xinren: minguo shiqi de Tianjin de huobi, yinhang, ji guojia-shehui guanxi 亂世中的信任:民國時期天津的貨幣, 銀行, 及國家-社會關係. Shanghai 上海: Shanghai Cishu Press 上海辭書出版社, 2016.

March 2016

Congratulations to Shaun Ossei-Owusu, the Doheny Library-Institute on California and the West Postdoctoral Scholar, who has accepted a fellowship with the Columbia Law School! While at Columbia, Shaun will complete the two projects he has been working on during his time here at USC. The first, which emerges out of his dissertation, explores the historical development of legal aid organizations and public defender offices (the first of which was in Los Angeles in 1913). The second project, which he began at USC, investigates post-Great Society health care restructuring by examining the relationship between health legislation and urban hospital closings.  Following his appointment at Columbia, Shaun will take his expertise in criminal and health law into the legal world, as he has agreed to join a Washington D.C. law firm.

Matthew Amato, who earned his PhD in 2013 from this department, has been offered a book contract from the University of Chicago Press, for Exposing Humanity: Slavery, Antislavery, and Early Photography in America, 1839-1865.  He currently holds a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at Washington University.

Our colleague Nathan Perl-Rosenthal has just been awarded the 2016 Gilbert Chinard Prize by the Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut français d'Amérique for his book, Citizen Sailors.  This is for "a distinguished scholarly book published in North America in 2015 in the history of themes shared by France and North, Central, or South America."  That make twice for our department, as Vanessa Schwartz won the award as well, for her It’s So French! Congratulations Nathan!

Congratulations to our graduate student colleague Jillian Barndt on her selection as a Finalist for  a 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Japan. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States.  We are happy for you Jillian!

Congratulations to our graduate student colleague Yu Tokunaga, who has been appointed as an assistant professor at the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University, beginning next month!

Our recent Ph.D., Sachiko Kawai, who studied Japanese history with Joan Piggott, has just won the Reischauer Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University for next year.  This is terrific news, and the second year in a row for USC – Michelle Damian was awarded the fellowship last year.  Warmest congratulations Sachiko!

Marjorie Becker is very grateful that the English Department at USC twice invited her to present work based on her new book, Dancing on the Sun Stone: An Exploration of Mexican Women and the Gendered Politics of Octavio Paz.  The talk was scheduled for last year; her father’s tragic passing prompted the rescheduling. She gave her talk, “When Mexican Women Consider Paz,” for the English Department lunchtime talk on February 24. The talk and the book itself are based on many years of research into issues of Mexican revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, post-revolutionary gendered histories enacted within and upon worlds of previously unseen or undiscussed  temporality and as many years of research, writing, assessment of Paz and many other poetic, historical and innovative historical forms.

Wolf Gruner was invited to give a keynote on the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany at the international conference “From Euthanasia to the Holocaust” in November in Frankfurt, Germany.  He also received an invitation for a keynote lecture at a conference “Exhibiting National Socialism” in Tutzing, Germany, in October (declined).

Vanessa R. Schwartz will be speaking at the University of Delaware, Rutger and Princeton this month. She will be a professeur invité at the Ecole Normal Supérieure in Paris in April. In addition, Schwartz’s former graduate students, Laura Kalba was recently tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art at Smith College, and Mark Braude’s book, Making Monte Carlo will be appear with Simon and Schuster next month.

February 2016

Our Professor Emeritus Lois Banner has been awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Uppsala in Sweden for six months of the next academic year.  She is also appearing on many television shows in the United States, Europe, China, and Japan for her research on Marilyn Monroe.  She is beginning to publish on her work on Greta Garbo and is giving papers, etc. at conventions.  Congratulations to Lois for her many accomplishments!

Marjorie Becker’s “Had Pilar Ternera co-written Cien Aňos de Soledad, Gabo, I’d never write you now: toward a letter to the dead,” has just appeared in Rethinking History: the Journal of History and Practice.  Her sixth innovative historical article, it is based on her longstanding training and practice in innovative historical writing, music studies, journalism, gender studies, Latin American and deep Southern history, oral history, fiction and poetry.  An ethno-historical work of fictive history, it places the late Gabriel García Márquez in conversation with some of the remarkable rural women Becker knew during her time serving in the Peace Corps I rural Paraguay. It specifically emerged in response to her students and her own sorrow over Garcia Marquez’s passing. That is, this article was in part prompted by her longstanding focus on Garcia Marquez’s journalism and fiction, journalism and fiction she has been fortunate enough to teach in an array of Latin American history and Arts and Letters courses over many years.

Sarah Gualtieri has accepted a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her project, “Syrian Migrants in Southern California, 1880-1945.”  She will be on sabbatical next year conducting research and writing. Gualtieri will also be giving a talk on February 23, at Cornell University in the Comparative Muslim Societies Program.

January 2016

Marjorie Becker’s former graduate student, Alex Aviňa was awarded The María Elena Martínez Book Prize in Mexican History for 2015 for his monograph Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside (Oxford University Press.)

Bill Deverell's short story Evangel has been accepted for publication in the spring issue of The Southern California Literary Review.

Wolf Gruner published the peer reviewed book chapter: “Indifference? Participation and Protest as Individual Responses to the Persecution of the Jews as Revealed in Berlin Police Logs and Trial Records, 1933-45”, in: Alan Steinweis/Susanna Schrafstetter (eds.), The Germans and the Holocaust. Popular Responses to the Persecution and Murder of the Jews, New York: Berghahn 2015, pp. 59-83.

Gruner also co-organized with Thomas Pegelow Kaplan the panel: “Rethinking Jewish Petitions During the Holocaust. Towards Integrated Histories of Collective and Individual Acts of Contestation” (panel participants: Tim Cole, University of Bristol, Marion Kaplan, NYU (chair), Thomas Pegelow Kaplan, Davidson College, Wolf Gruner, USC) and delivered his paper “Letters and Memoranda. Overlooked Jewish Means of Opposition and Protest against the Persecution in Nazi Germany” at the 47th Annual conference of the Association of Jewish Studies, Boston, 13 December 2015.  He also gave an invited commentary to the 35th Annual Jerome Nemer Lecture “How to provide imperfect justice for Holocaust victims in the 21st Century" delivered by Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat on 15 November 2015 organized by the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the USC Max Kade institute for German, Austrian and Swiss studies. In addition, he presented the International Family Film Festival (IFFF)’s 2015 Humanitarian Award to Rwandan filmmaker Eric Kabera and his film Intore about reconciliation through music and dance in the post-genocide society of Rwanda, on 8 November 2015 at Raleigh Studios, Hollywood.

December 2015

Kyung Moon Hwang was promoted to full professor, and his book, Rationalizing Korea, was published by UC Press.

November 2015

Congratulations to Paul Lerner who has just been promoted to Full Professor of History!

The History Department is proud to announce that our PhD candidate Stefan Smith has been hired as a writer for the television program Drunk History!  

Marjorie Becker’s poetic and historical eulogy for our colleague Maria Elena Martinez just appeared in the Hispanic American Historical Review on line.  The eulogy is entitled, “And Cry Again and Shout as We . . .”  She also was invited to and has agreed to chair the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Grant Committee, on which she served last year.  She is co-chairing the history department’s colonial Latin American search committee, and will serve again on the Woodrow Wilson Charlotte Newcombe grant committee.

Bill Deverell and Darryl Holter have just published Woody Guthrie L.A., 1937-1941 with Angel City Press.

Wolf Gruner organized together with Nick Strimple (USC Thornton School of Music) "Singing in the Lion's Mouth: Music as Resistance to Genocide," a successful two-day event series on campus. The program began with two film screenings, Screamers, a film by Carla Garapedian, and Following the Ninth, a film by Kerry Candaele. Both films were followed by very interesting discussions involving the audience and the filmmakers. The second day started with an academic symposium with seven scholars from Europe, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United States. Their research presentations discussed and challenged our understanding of how music serves as a means of resistance. The events series on October 10th and 11th, 2015, supported by the USC Vision and Voices initiative and co-hosted by the USC Shoah foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research and the USC Thornton School of Music, ended with a moving evening concert that included performances by choral and instrumental USC students as well as original recordings of songs used or created as resistance during the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and the Indonesian Purges.

Peter Mancall has received a Dyason Fellowship from the University of Melbourne and is the PI for a newly awarded ACLS Postdoctoral Partnership Initiative grant.   He is also now the Vice Dean for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Dornsife.

Vanessa Schwartz delivered a lecture on Teaching Western Civ. at Berkeley at a conference in honor of Tom Laqueur;  delivered the closing keynote, “Paparazzi: The Last Professionals" at the Reconsidering Photography Conference for the Mois de la Photo in Montréal, at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art lectured on “Networks” at the Terra Foundation Symposium, "Shifting Terrain: Mapping a Transnational American Art;” at the Cullman Center at the NYPL spoke on “Jet Age Aesthetics” and will give the Edith Bleich Lecture at the University of Miami Center for the Humanities on the origin of media events in late nineteenth century Paris. She is also an invited Professor at the Van Leer Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Ben Gurion University in December 2015 where she will lecture on France and the culture of mobility. 

Schwartz also published a response essay in Elkins, et. al. Farewell to Visual Studies. A Stone Seminar Book. (Penn State, 2015).

October 2015

Wolf Gruner was invited to author two chapters, one about his early research on Jewish Forced labor and one about his recent work on local and regional anti-Jewish policies in the annexed territories, to a two volume special edition of Revue d’histoire de la Shoah on German historiography on the Holocaust since 1990 which features original contributions by the most influential German historians. The planned volumes are a cooperation of the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris and the Center for Holocaust Studies of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

Steve Ross was interviewed by Vince Houghton, director of the International Spy Museum, for his hour-long Spycast Podcast as part of the first Politicon Convention held in Los Angeles October 9-10, 2015. He was also interviewed by the Boston Globe for an article on “Presidential Celebrity Endorsements.”

September 2015

Based on her committee work for the AHA and for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Marjorie Becker was asked to help link the two regarding a new Woodrow Wilson fellowship.  She was also invited to the first ever poetry reading of her longstanding poetry salon, populated by poets trained by English Department chair and professor David St. John. She and her poetry from her previous collections and the one in the making were introduced by St. John.  Among other poems, she read her eulogy to the late Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who emerges in a distinct form in her forthcoming history article, itelf in part based on her longstanding experience teaching ARLT students fashions in which to assess history and literature. Her last poem was a eulogy to her late father, Marvin Jerome (“Buddy”) Becker.

Daniela Bleichmar's article, "The Imperial Visual Archive: Images, Evidence, and Knowledge in the Early Modern Hispanic World," has just appeared in the Colonial Latin American Review.

August 2015

Marjorie Becker’s article, “Had Pilar Ternera Co-Written Cien Aňos de Soledad, Gabo, I’d Never Write You Now: Toward a Letter to the Dead,” has been accepted for publication in Rethinking History. She has been invited to serve a third year on the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship prize committee.  She has also been invited to participate in a panel focusing on the Spanish Civil War and the literature it prompted.

Daniela Bleichmar has co-edited (with Meredith Martin of NYU) the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Art History, a collection of twelve essays entitled Objects in Motion in the Early Modern World that will also come out as a stand-alone paperback book from Wiley in a few months. Daniela's contribution is a co-written introduction and an article entitled "History in Pictures: Translating the Codex Mendoza," which is part of her ongoing monograph project on knowledge-making in colonial Mexico and early modern Europe.

Wolf Gruner
received a USC Vision and Voices grant to organize together with the Center for Advanced Genocide Research and the Thornton School of Music several events around the international symposium “Music as Resistance to Genocide” on October 10th and 11th, consisting of documentary screenings and an evening concert, where students performed pieces of resistance music.  In June and July, he stayed in Berlin, Germany as a DAAD fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies in Berlin. During his residency he gave an invited paper on “What could Germans and German Jews in the Third Reich know about the Armenian Genocide?” at the Third international ICRAR conference “Gender, Memory and Genocide - Marking 100 Years Since the Armenian Genocide”, organized by the Technical University Berlin, the Central European University Budapest and Sabancı University Istanbul, on June, 5th 2015 at the Center for the Research on Antisemitism in Berlin. On June 27th, he gave an invited paper for the concluding round table at the international conference “Der Ort der »Volksgemeinschaft« in der deutschen Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Internationale Abschlusskonferenz des Niedersächsischen Forschungskollegs »Nationalsozialistische ›Volksgemeinschaft‹?« in Hannover, Germany.  On 9 July 2015 Wolf Gruner led a workshop about the “USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen für die Forschung” at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies. The same day he gave there an evening keynote lecture: “Defiance and Protest. Forgotten Reactions of German Jews to the National Socialist persecution 1933-45”.  Gruner was also invited for a guest lecture at the class “Modern German Jewish History and the Holocaust” of the international Berlin Leo Baeck Summer School 2015 by Dr. Stefanie Fischer.  On 21 July 2015 her seminar was on “Persecution, Nuremberg laws, Kristallnacht and Emigration”. The assigned text was an article by Gruner on the initiative role of municipalities regarding the persecution of the Jews that the students would discuss with the author. Lastly, In August a digital reprint of Gruner’s 2005 book “Widerstand in der Rosenstrasse” was published by S. Fischer in Frankfurt.

George Sanchez is President of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association in 2015-2016.  He will preside over the 109th annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch on August 4-6, 2016 at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott in Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii on the Big Island.  This year’s theme is “Uncharted Terrain: The Challenge of Re-Imagining Traveling to the Past.”  You are welcome to submit a complete panel proposal or individual paper submission to the program committee by December 4, 2015.  The Program Committee chairs are two USC Ph.D. Graduates, Associate Professor Ana Elizabeth Rosas (of History) at and Assistant Professor Mark Padoongpatt at


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