Department of History

Department News

March 16, 2023

History PhD student Alexandra Szabo is among three graduate students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who are featured during Women's History Month for bringing important stories to the surface, and, as a result, paving the way for women of today.

Alexandra's research on gendered aspects of genocide and the stories she's uncovered surrounding women's reproductive health in particular are taking women's history in novel directions, breaking long-kept silences.

Sylvia Arrom wins the Howard Cline Prize for best book on Mexican History

January 24, 2023

Professor Emerita Sylvia Arrom's latest book, "La Güera Rodríguez: The Life and Legends of a Mexican Independence Heroine" (UC Press, 2021) just won the Howard Cline Prize for the best book on Mexican History, to be awarded at the May meeting of the Latin American Studies Association.

May 9, 2022

Prof. Greg Childs is among six members of the Brandeis faculty to be honored this year for their excellence in teaching, mentoring, and service. The Michael L. Walzer '56 Award for Teaching recognizes  a faculty member who combines exceptional scholarship with inspired teaching. This marks the fourth year in a row that a History faculty member has received this award, which is a strong testiment to the dedication history faculty members show toward their students and the priority placed on teaching. Prof. Child's award this year follows that of Professors Wangui Muigai ('21), Hannah Muller ('20), and Naghmeh Sohrabi ('19).

July 12, 2021

History PhD student Rafael Abrahams received the 2021 Prize for Graduate Student Research for his paper titled, " 'Intimate With the Stars and the Trees': Black Conservationism in the Progressive Era." Brandeis Library Research Excellence Prizes recognize students who apply exemplary library research skills. Congratulations, Rafi!

June 19, 2021

On Saturday, June 19 — Juneteenth — Brandeis released a virtual discussion between Annette Gordon-Reed, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, and Abigail Cooper, assistant professor of history at Brandeis, about Professor Gordon-Reed's latest book "On Juneteenth." Part history, part memoir, "On Juneteenth" is a timely exploration of the origins of the holiday which marks the arrival of federal troops to Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Their arrival came more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Professor Gordon-Reed is also the author of the 2009 book, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family," which won a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and the National Book Award. 

May 17, 2021

Ryan Shaffer '21 was selected as this year's Doris Brewer Cohen Prize recipient for his senior thesis entitled “The Chase and Waite Courts: Hindering the Reconstruction Promise of Racial Equality.” Focusing on the pivotal years after the American Civil War, Ryan’s thesis explores the courts’ efforts to “inhibit the ability for legislators to expand protections for African Americans, reduce the influence of the newly passed Reconstruction amendments, and establish a distinction between state and federal citizenship.” All of these factors, he argues, hindered the Reconstruction push for greater racial equality, with reverberations until the present day.

April 27, 2021

Professor Alice Kelikian in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor recounts the the story of the three aunts she never knew and the memory of her father, Dr. Hampar Kelikian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide of 1915-23. 

April 21, 2021

For the second year in a row, the Department of History had two faculty members receive awards for teaching and mentoring.  Wangui Muigai was awarded the Michael L. Walzer '56 Award for Teaching, honoring a faculty member who combines exceptional scholarship with inspired teaching. Also this year, Govind Sreenivasan received the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer '69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. 

April 6, 2021

Professor Yuri Doolan was interviewed for the Journal of Asian American Studies podcast (hosted on The New Books Network) about the Atlanta shootings alongside three other scholars and organizers.

March 25, 2021

Professor Michael Willrich is featured in The Atlantic's podcast, "The Experiment: Stories from an Unfinished Country."

March 19, 2021

Professor Yuri Doolan's research is cited in the New York Times.

March 4, 2021

Professor Michael Willrich is featured in the podcast "EPIDEMIC." 

February 19, 2021

Professor Abby Cooper is featured in the podcast "Seizing Freedom." It tells incredible stories of American freedom, told by those who made it a reality. In this episode, Professor Abigail Cooper discusses African Americans building their communities within Civil War refugee camps, as well as their relationship to African traditions.

February 16, 2021

Professor Jankowski discusses his latest book, "Against All: The Long Winter of 1933 and the Origins of the Second World War," with William Friedman ’65. 

January 27, 2021

Brandeis’ Spring 2021 semester is being conducted in a hybrid fashion, with some students living on campus and taking a portion of their courses in person and some students studying completely remotely. Students, faculty and staff coming to campus should comply with all measures required within the Campus Passport, including testing and taking the Daily Health Assessment. For complete information, visit the COVID-19 Response website.

January 20, 2021

Joe Biden's inauguration committee released a series of videos featuring historians discussing past presidential inaugurations, including the Brandeis History Department's Leah Wright Rigueur.

December 13, 2020

In a New York Times article, Professor Michael Willrich discusses the potential civil liberties hurdles caused by the advancement of digital health technologies.

November 23, 2020

Paul Jankowski's book, "All Against All: The Long Winter of 1933 and the Origins of the Second World War" is featured among the Financial Times' "Best History Books of 2020."  FT reviewers state, "It is a rewarding approach, enhanced by Jankowski's engaging narrative style."

November 3, 2020

Leah Wright Rigueur writes an election-day article on the history of Black celebrity GOP endorsements for The Washington Post.

October 22, 2020

Leah Wright Rigueur writes on the GOP's Black-voter strategy in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

October 8, 2020

Abby Cooper is interviewed for HistoryNet about the faith and community building of freed people in refugee camps during and after the Civil War.  Her research will appear in "Pierced Dimes and Placenta Fires," forthcoming in 2021.

June 30, 2020

Congratulations to Yuri Doolan, Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (WGS).  He received the Qualey Award for his article titled, "Transpacific Camptowns: Korean Women, US Army Bases, and Military Prostitution in America." You may read the article here.

June 23, 2020

Abby Cooper studies how African Americans living in Civil War-era refugee camps imagined — and constucted — their futures after slavery.  Her work is featured in the summer issue of Brandeis Magazine. 

May 29, 2020

The Department of History was well represented among the teaching awards this year, with two faculty recipients among the five prizes awarded by Brandeis. Hannah Muller was awarded the Michael L. Walzer '56 Award for Teaching, honoring a faculty member who combines exceptional scholarship with inspired teaching. This marks the second year in a row that a History faculty member has received this award, with  Naghmeh Sohrabi having received the honor last year.  Also this year, Michael Willrich received the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer '69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. 

May 22, 2020

Naghmeh Sohrabi publishes in

May 19, 2020

The Berlin Prize provides recipients with the time and resources to step back from their daily obligations to engage in academic and artistic projects they might otherwise not pursue. During her semester-long fellowship at the Academy in spring 2021, Sohrabi will reconstruct the intimate lives that were folded into the vastness of the 1979 Iranian revolution. 

May 18, 2020

María Ignacia Rodríguez de Velasco (1778-1850) is a fascinating Mexican woman who has become an icon of the nation’s popular culture. Over time the stories told about her have grown increasingly fanciful. Known by her nickname, “La Güera Rodríguez,” she has been – erroneously – portrayed as a courtesan who seduced Simón Bolívar, Alexander von Humboldt, and Agustín de Iturbide; as a major independence heroine; and as a feminist who defied the conventions of her day. "La Güera Rodríguez: The Woman and the Legend" reconstructs her biography and then traces the way she has been remembered in historical chronicles and in the press, novels, plays, comic books, movies, an opera, television programs and blogs. Showing when and why false facts and apocryphal stories appeared, the book not only illuminates the neglected social history of her day but also highlights the degree to which historical memory reflects ever-changing worldviews and concerns.  

May 5, 2020

Paul Jankowski discusses his new book, "All Against All: The Long Winter of 1933 and the Origins of the Second World War," in BrandeisNow.

May 5, 2020

The victory over smallpox shows the beginning of more modern public health and can teach us about today’s COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Willrich argues in

May 1, 2020

Zachary Matusheski is a lecturer in the history department at Ohio State University. He specializes in late 19th- and 20th-century U.S. diplomatic and military history and is currently working on a book project about the ways East Asian crises shaped Dwight D. Eisenhower’s foreign policy reforms.

April 28, 2020

As he weaves together the stories of the influences that conspired to lead the world to war, Jankowski offers a cautionary tale relevant for western democracies today. The rising threat from dictatorial regimes and the ideological challenge presented by communism and fascism gave the 1930s a unique face, just as global environmental and demographic crises are coloring our own. While we do not know for certain where these crises will take us, we do know that those of the 1930s culminated in the Second World War.

From The Kirkus Reviews, "Expert ... [Jankowski] shrewdly juxtaposes interminable peace and disarmament conferences and political events with the national mood in a dozen countries whose leaders revealed a distressing eagerness to discover the source of their misery in rival nations or undeserving minorities." 

April 17, 2020

Professor Muigai received this prestigious award for her current book project, "Infant Death and the Black Experience."  Given annually by the American Association for the History of Medicine to an early-career scholar, the Pressman-Burroughs Wellcome award recognizes a book project that stands to make a significant impact in medical and health history.  Members of the award committee state, "we believe that when published, 'Infant Death and the Black Experience' will make a dramatic mark on our field, helping us to rethink race, gender, and public health in the 19th and 20th centuries."

April 9, 2020

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellowships and grants are awarded to individual scholars for excellence in research in the humanities and related social sciences. Professor Sohrabi will spend her fellowship year working on her current book project, "The Intimate Lives of a Revolution: Iran 1979."

March 13, 2020

In support of public health efforts and for the safety of our community, Brandeis has determined that all classes should be moved online for the spring semester. Additionally, all on-campus events have been canceled for the remainder of the academic year. You may read all messages to the Brandeis community and access the frequently asked questions page by clicking on the headline above.

February 14, 2020

Research by historian Abigail Cooper shows how newly emancipated people forged a new path.

December 18, 2019

In this episode of the Highlights Podcast, Alexander Herbert, a PhD candidate in the history department, discusses his book, "What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot."

October 28, 2019

Patrick Brown defended his dissertation this September and will receive his PhD in February 2020.

PhD Candidate Cassandra Berman Awarded 2019 Merrill Travel Grant from Organization of American Historians

April 9, 2019

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) has awarded Cassandra Berman a 2019 Samuel and Marion Merrill Graduate Student Travel Grant. The grants are supported by a bequest from the Merrill Trust and help sponsor the travel-related costs of graduate students who are confirmed as participants on the OAH conference program. 

Cassandra’s dissertation examines the figure of the transgressive mother in American print culture from the 1760s to the 1860s, focusing on women who were either unwilling or unable to live up to the demands of white, Christian maternity. At the 2019 OAH Annual Meeting, Cassandra presented a portion of this research on the panel she organized, “Negotiating Freedom, Slavery, and Womanhood in Popular Print.”

Gregory Freeze has just published a large volume in Russia, Gubitel’noe blatochestie: Rossiiskaia tserkov’ i padenie imperii [Subversive Piety: The Russian Church and the Fall of the Empire]

December 21, 2018

This volume was published by the Evropeiskii universitet in St. Petersburg. It consists of eight chapters, all based on extensive archival research; the main theme is that the Orthodox Church (and especially common believers) were not a mainstay of the old regime, but a key factor in its demise.