Friday, July 8, 2016

Adventures in the Croatian State Archives

Thanks to a very generous donation by former History faculty member Steven Béla Várdy and his wife Agnes, the Drs. Steven Béla Várdy and Agnes Huszár Várdy International Research and Study Grant has allowed Public History graduate student Alexandra Zaremba the incredible opportunity to travel overseas this summer to conduct international research. 

Public History graduate student Alexandra Zaremba

Alexandra is the first recipient of the Várdy Grant and is currently in Zagreb, Croatia, where she is researching two existing permanent memorials of Jasenovac Concentration Camp: Donja Gradina Memorial Zone and Jasenovac Memorial Site. In studying these commemoration sites, this research will explore how the public memory and historical narrative of Jasenovac is constructed through physical memorial.

We asked Alexandra to check in with us during her trip, and here's what she had to say:

"So, I just finished a week of archival work in Arhiv Jugoslavije (Yugoslav Archive). There I was able to find the document where Jasenovac memorial site first appeared in the Cultural Registry of Jugoslavija and when it was registered as a cultural object. 
Arhiv Jugoslavije (Yugoslav Archive)
"I just arrived in Zagreb for my visit to the Croatian State Archives. The building in magnificent, especially the interior (reminds me of Hogwarts.) Today I registered as a researcher here and received my ID card and ordered materials for review later today and into next week
Public History graduate student Alexandra Zaremba in front of the Croatian State Archives

"This weekend I will be visiting Jasenovac Memorial Site, as well as their museum and archival collection. Then late next week I will visit Donja Gradina Memorial Zone to visit the site and view their archives as well. Following that I'll be in Banja Luka in Bosnia & Hercegovina to visit the Arhiv Republike Srpske (Archive Republic of Serbia) for about a week. 
Hrvatska Kazaliste Croatian Theater
"It has been an amazing trip so far, and it's incredibly cool to not only visit places I've only read about or seen pictures of, but to feel like a public historian and conduct such fascinating and important research. I'm so appreciative of this opportunity."

You can learn more about the Várdy Grant and, if you're a current student, you can apply for next year's funding. If you'd like to donate to the Várdy Grant so that our students can continue to have the incredible opportunity to conduct research overseas and broaden their global awareness, please visit and enter "Vardy Grant" as your preferred designation. You may also mail a check made payable to Duquesne University to the Department of History, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, and write "Vardy Grant" in the memo line. We and our future students thank you sincerely.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Part of the History Family

In this post, senior Michael Romero Moore of Madrid, Spain shares his thoughts on what being a part of the Duquesne History Department has meant to him. Michael is a history major with an art history minor.

Dr. Alima Bucciantini with Michael Romero Moore as he receives 3rd place for the Clio Award for Undergraduate Research.

As my undergraduate career at Duquesne is ending, being asked to do this reflection results in a truly contemplative mental review of my past decisions and how those have resulted in living a truly positive, transformative experience as a member of Duquesne’s History Department. I’m actually upset that I have only been part of the History family--because it truly is a family in my opinion--for four semesters. I switched my major from sports marketing to history at the beginning of my junior year, knowing nothing of the department, and having no particular expectations. This turned out to be a pivotal decision in my life. As a student that needs to be interested and motivated in his classes to be an active participant, I found myself in classes with professors that were not only dynamic and engaging, but were incredibly intelligent and qualified. However, the most important characteristic of Duquesne’s history professors has been their capacity to get students motivated to push themselves to their full potential, and make them realize there is no ceiling to what one can do with a history degree.

Having been a student of half the department's faculty, and having met the others at various departmental events and gatherings, I can truly say that our department’s most valuable asset is our faculty members and staff. As a student graduating in three weeks with hopes to pursue a masters degree in history, I hope that whichever institution I end up landing on the faculty and staff is half as inspiring and motivating as Duquesne History’s faculty and staff have been. I leave with great pride in having worked under such incredible professionals.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pop-Up Museum: #BodyAsCanvas

On Wednesday, February 17, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies and our own Assistant Professor of History Dr. Alima Bucciantini sponsored a pop-up museum in the Duquesne Union 2nd floor atrium with the theme #bodyascanvas.

What's a pop-up museum?

A pop-up museum is a temporary show created by the general public. The sponsors name the theme, and the members of the public bring an object on that topic to share...and those members of the public write the brief history and/or meaning of that object.

For #bodyascanvas, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies and Dr. Bucciantini asked individuals "to participate by bringing an item to express yourself that is connected to the body -- specifically, something that either currently or in the past has clothed, decorated, embellished, costumed, or otherwise adorned your body. Each object will be displayed along with a short description of its meaning (written by you). An item for display might be a tee-shirt, a hat, your 'lucky' sweater, a feather boa or a football helmet. It could be the glasses you wore (and hated) in the fourth grade."

Check out some of the great items that were collected for the pop-up museum!

Thanks to everyone who participated and/or stopped by to check out the display!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

We're thrilled to announce that Secondary Social Studies student Peter Mysels, who has worked very closely with us in the Department of History and with our own Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Andrew Simpson, is one of only two undergraduate students selected to represent Duquesne University at the Annual Undergraduate Research Conference at the Capitol in Harrisburg on April 5, 2016, where he will present his original research. Way to go, Pete!

This photo is of Pete at his student teaching experience at Pleasant Hills Middle School, helping two students create an application as George Washington for the position of President.

Congratulations, Pete!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A History & Classics Double Major's Adventures in Rome (and Elsewhere!)

Feb. 2 - 5, 2016

Have you ever thought about studying abroad? Maybe you're a little nervous? Maybe you're overwhelmed by all of the details that go into planning a semester abroad? Then this is your week! Be sure to check out the Office of International Programs in 601 Union and make an appointment with a study abroad advisor and/or a peer advisor.

History and Classics double major Nicole Cordier in Rome
History and Classics double major, Nicole Corider, who studied at Duquesne's Italian Campus in Rome last semester, is our guest blogger for Study Abroad Week. And Laura Donaldson, the administrative assistant for the Departments of History and Classics, was in Rome last semester and had the opportunity to interview Nicole about studying abroad. Enjoy!

"I’ve been asked to write a blog post about what were quite literally the best three months of my life, which is really not an easy thing to do. It’s so difficult to put into words just how wonderful my time abroad was. Never before have I had my life so thoroughly changed in just 89 days. Let’s just start from the beginning, yeah?

"Ciao. I’m Nicole. I’m a History and Classics double major who is interested in literally everything. I am currently a junior, and I am spending approximately 50% of my time on homework, 25% working, 10% of my time worrying about grad school, and 15% of my time wishing I was back in Rome. With all the worrying and the studying, I don’t exactly seem like the type of person who would go abroad or who would succeed studying abroad. I will admit that. I’ve been an introvert all my life, and I was afraid. This begs the question, then, why I wanted to study abroad at all.

"It’s really a combination of two things. The first is a strong sense of Wanderlust. I’ve always wanted to travel and explore. I grew up on a steady diet of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, so the need for adventure is second nature to me. The second is a passion for learning. I have studied Latin and ancient civilizations since middle school. I may be skilled at languages or have enough empathy to put myself in the shoes of ancient Romans, but nothing quite puts history into perspective like walking through the cobblestone streets of Rome. I was completely at one with what I’ve studied for so long.

Marie Antoinette's Garden, Versailles, France

"Even when I visited Versailles in France, I understood the French Revolution on a deeper level than I ever have before. It is one thing to look at pictures of these places but it is quite another to feel cool marble on your hand and know that what you’re touching has been here for hundreds or thousands of years.

the Colosseum

"That’s just how it felt walking in places like the Vatican or the Forum. Another truly amazing part is seeing famous artwork. I know that might not sound interesting to you, but you have never been led through Florence by Liz Lev. It might be tiring running around countless museums, but nothing beats the feeling of rounding the corner and seeing the David standing right in front of you. Pictures don’t do it justice, and the David wasn’t even my favorite work. (Raphael’s Transfiguration 4ever.)

Nicole at Paestum, Italy

"I’m not going to lie to you and say that you won’t have bad moments. You will get homesick sometimes, you will miss pancakes and bacon at least once, and you will regret the fact that you have almost no money left two and a half months in (if you’re as bad at saving money as I am). Here’s the thing though: it is so incredibly worth it.

The Castel Sant'angelo in Rome

"There are certainly things that I would do differently, but I would always make the decision to go abroad. It is through the bad moments that you learn how to cope with the unexpected or the disheartening. Above all, you realize that you are never alone. You are on the greatest adventure of your life. And suddenly you realize that you can conquer anything…except maybe the craving for gelato!

boat ride to the Isle of Capri, Italy

"So, where will you find your next adventure? Eating gelato in beautiful Piazza Navona? On the quiet streets of Florence? In gorgeous Dublin? Wandering the garden at Versailles?"

St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Graduate Assistant Spotlight: Andrew Spate

Every fall semester, we welcome a new cohort of graduate students into our Public History and Historical Studies programs. Among that cohort are several students who receive assistantships, which provide full tuition remission, a modest stipend, and the opportunity to work closely with faculty and staff within the Department of History.

First-year graduate assistant Andrew Spate

This year, we welcome Andrew Spate among those students with assistantships. Andrew is a first-year Historical Studies graduate student focusing on American history. His assistantship requires him to work with Dr. Holly Mayer and Dr. John Mitcham, providing research assistance and other duties as assigned.

We asked Andrew to tell us a little bit about himself:

1. Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?

I graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, in Buckhannon, WV.

2. What did you major in?

I was a dual major with History and Secondary Education.

3. Where is your hometown?

My hometown is Belle Vernon, Pa.  It is about 30 miles South of Pittsburgh.

4. What's your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Remember the Titans.

5. What's your favorite historical period?

I enjoy the antebellum period, in particularly the Confederate movement within the United States.

6. Did you have any extracurricular activities in college?

During undergraduate, I played football for 3 years, was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order as well as Phi Alpha Theta, and active member of the campus community.

7. Tell us a little known fact about yourself.

I was a 2015 Gilder Lehrman History Scholar, and was awarded a trip to New York to meet and discuss with scholars such as Martha Hodes, David Blight, and Kenneth Jackson.

8. What area of history are you focusing on in your graduate program at Duquesne University?

I will be focusing on American History, in the Antebellum Era.

9. What are some of the responsibilities you'll have as a graduate assistant in our department? What faculty are you assisting?

Some of my responsibilities include proctoring, research, and indexing.

10. How do you like Pittsburgh so far?

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I always liked it, but moving into "the city" has been a unique experience. I love proximity to so many different activities and things to do, as well as the research opportunities provided by having many different institutions in the same area and also a strong library system like the Carnegie helps as well.

11. What are your plans (or your dreams) for after you finish your M.A. degree?

That is a good question...  I would love to pursue my Ph.D in History, yet would be open to other positions as well.  Being an education major as well, I would be open to going and teaching high school and community college classes as a start while I work on my Ph.D, but in reality I am very open minded and would just love the opportunity to do anything that I feel is contributing to society in a way that is pleasing.

12.What is one of the things you're most excited to experience here at Duquesne and/or in Pittsburgh?

The thing I am looking forward to the most, is the chance to engage within the culture of Pittsburgh. Being in a small college town, there were limited opportunities outside of the college, and personally being about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh required ample planning for making the most out of any trip into the city.  With my new location, I am looking forward to doing the little things in Pittsburgh that I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to such as trying new restaurants, going to the different events in the city, and just exploring everything this wonderful city has to offer.