History Academic News

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will welcome 26 new tenure-track and tenured professors in the fall of 2017.

Joining the college as assistant professors are Aaron Brantly, Political Science; Cara Daggett, Political Science; Matthew Fullen, School of Education; Edward Gitre, History; Katherine Haenschen, Communication; Benjamin Katz, Human Development; Karin Kitchens, Political Science; Ashley Landers, Human Development; Evan Lavender-Smith, English; Christopher Lindgren, English; Gonzalo Montero, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Shaily Patel, Religion and Culture; Ashley Reichelmann, Sociology; Patrick Ridge, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Micah Roos, Sociology; Donna Sedgwick, Sociology; Eonyou Shin, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Lee Vinsel, Science and Technology in Society; and Chelsea Woods, Communication.

Hired as tenured faculty at the rank of associate professor are Shannon Bell, Sociology; Su Fang Ng, Cutchins Chair in the Department of English; and Bonnie Zare, Sociology.

Joining the college at the rank of professor are Kenneth Hodges, English; Sylvester Johnson, Religion and Culture (as well as director of the Center for the Humanities and assistant vice provost for humanities); Carmen Giménez Smith, English; and Paul Steger, director of the School of Performing Arts.

Danna Agmon, an assistant professor of history and a core faculty member in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT), has been selected as the faculty principal for the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston. West Ambler Johnston is one of the 16 living-learning communities at Virginia Tech; it consists of four “houses” with 200 students each. Agmon will live in the community and facilitate lectures, social activities, and educational programs.

Several College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members received Curriculum Globalization Grants from Virginia Tech’s Global Education Office and Outreach and International Affairs.

Vanessa Diaz, an instructor in the Department of Human Development, and Anisa Zvonkovic, a professor and head of the Department of Human Development, will develop a new course titled “Immigrant Families: Child Development and Acculturation.”

Sharon Johnson, an associate professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and director of women’s and gender studies, received a grant to develop a new course, “Gender and Sexual Violence in a Global Context.”

Brett Shadle, a professor in the Department of History, received a grant for efforts to globalize the curriculum through a new course titled “A History of Refugees.”

Vinodh Venkatesh, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was honored for his efforts to globalize the curriculum through a new course, “Spanish for the Natural Sciences.”

Each award was for $5,000. The award winners were celebrated at a reception at the Hahn Horticultural Garden on March 30.

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students and faculty were recognized at the 17th Annual Graduate Education Week Awards Banquet on March 30.

Carmen Bolt, History, received the William Preston Society Outstanding Thesis Award for Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities. Human Development faculty member April Few-Demo was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Mentor Award. Francine Rossone de Paula, ASPECT, received the Outstanding Dissertation Award for Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Graduate Student Awards went to Daniel Newcomb, a master’s student in history, and Shekila Melchior, a doctoral student in counselor education. Ricky Mullins, Curriculum and Instruction, received the Graduate Teaching Excellence – Assistant Award. Honored as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges were Samantha Fried, Science and Technology Studies, and Erin Lavender-Stott, Human Development. 

Kelly Cooper, a history major, was one of six students selected to represent Virginia Tech at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Meeting of the Minds Conference. Cooper presented “The Illumination of the York Minster and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Two Preservation Approaches.” The conference was held March 31 to April 2 at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Students from each of the 15 ACC member schools send representatives. The conference is funded in part by revenue from ACC athletic events.

Eight College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students presented at the 2017 Dennis Dean Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Conference.

Presenting papers were: John Chandler, Music, Jonathan Elmore, Music, and Allison Harris, Mechanical Engineering and Music, National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition;Kelly Cooper, History, “The Illumination of the York Minster and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Two Preservation Approaches”; Rhiannon Hasenauer, Human Development, “The Future of Honduras”; Alec Masella, Literature and Language, “First Contact: The Influential Exchange between the American Fireside Poet and the Arab Mahjar Poets”; and David Snyder, Communication, “Sheppard v. Maxwell: Revisited.”

Presenting posters were: Rachel Beisser, Literature and Language, “Master of Deceit: The Malicious and Cunning Nature of Mephistophilis in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus,” and A. Slough, Human Development, “Attention in Infancy: Links to Childhood Attention and Academic Achievement.”

The Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Research selected several of the presenters to receive awards. John Chandler, Jonathan Elmore, and Allison Harris won for Best Performance; their faculty mentor was Ariana Wyatt, an assistant professor of voice in the School of Performing Arts. Kelly Cooper was named an ACC Meeting of the Minds awardee for Oral Presentation; her faculty mentor was LaDale Winling, an assistant professor in the Department of History.

The winning presentation from each category received $500, and ACC Meeting of the Minds awardees presented their projects at the conference of the same name.

The conference was held February 20–23 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

The 2017 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Faculty Awards Reception and Ceremony took place in Owens Banquet Hall on March 14. Presenting this year’s awards were Interim Dean Rosemary Blieszner, Associate Dean for Graduate Study and Research Tom Ewing, and Joseph Pitt, Philosophy and chair of the College’s Honors and Awards Committee.

The Diversity Award winner was David Cline, History. Yannis Stivachtis, Political Science, garnered the Excellence in Administration Award. The winner of the Shannon Award was Paul Heilker, English. Gerard Lawson, School of Education, was recognized with the Land Grant Scholar Award. Recipients of an Excellence in Advising Award were April Few-Demo, Human Development, and Richard Hirsh, History.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence Award winners were: Jennifer Barton, English; María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Foreign Languages and Literatures/Spanish; Christine Labuski, Sociology; Richard Phillips, Foreign Languages and Literatures/Classics; Helen Schneider, History; and Ashley Shew, Science and Technology in Society.

Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Awards were presented to Nicholas Copeland, Sociology, and Phillip Olson, Science and Technology in Society. Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Awards were presented to Brian Britt, Religion and Culture; Billie Lepczyk, School of Performing Arts; Erika Meitner, English; and Carol Mullen, School of Education.

The 20th annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference — held March 18–19 at the University Club and the Graduate Life Center — featured 23 presentations by students from 11 U.S. institutions, including Virginia Tech.

Presenting papers were the following master’s students in History: Mason Ailstock, “Making Their Mark: World War I Memorial and Commemoration Formation by Veterans in Johnson City, TN, 1918–1999”; Kevin Caprice, “No True Veteran . . .: Constructing a Hierarchy within Union Veteranhood”; Earl Cherry, Jr., “Training Virginians: Rural Training Schools of Virginia’s Segregated Education System, 1895–1955”; Grace Hemmingson, “The Battle in Richmond: Catawba Sanatorium and Virginia’s ‘War on Tuberculosis’”; Chris Keller, “Bluegrass by Flatt and Scruggs: Sophisticated and Nostalgic”; Jonathan MacDonald, “Reel Guidance: Midcentury Classroom Films and Adolescent Adjustment”; Jenny Nehrt, “The Opportunity in Disaster: Securing White Supremacy in Memphis during the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic”; Daniel Newcomb, “‘Living in a New World’: World War One and the Decline of Military Tradition at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1916–1923”; and Rebecca Williams, “‘Weird Old Figures and a New Twist’: Cultural Functions of Halloween at the Turn of the 20th Century.”

Department of History graduate students organized the conference and faculty members served as discussants.

Appalachian Studies Program faculty members Anita Puckett and Emily Satterwhite, and English faculty member Serena Frost, served as conference chair, program chair, and local arrangements chairs respectively for “Extreme Appalachia,” the 40th annual Appalachian Studies Conference, which was held on the Virginia Tech campus March 9–12. This was the first time the conference was held in Blacksburg since 1994.

In addition to academic presentations, the program included public performances; fiber arts exhibits curated by Kathy Combiths, English; photography exhibits (Katie White, Material Culture and Public Humanities, assistant curator); a series of documentary screenings; a plenary co-organized by Barbara Ellen Smith, Sociology; and training sessions and workshops.

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students presented and participated in a range of sessions. Judson Abraham, ASPECT, presented ‘‘How Marcuse and Bloch Contribute to a Critical Appalachian Utopianism’’ and participated in the “Exploring Critical Theory for Appalachian Scholars and Activists” roundtable. Katie Brooks, Rhetoric and Writing, presented “‘What’s the Catch’: Strategies for Recruiting Central Appalachian High School Teachers for University Partnerships to Promote College Access.” Rachel Hargrave, Creative Writing and Literature and Language, presented with faculty member Abby Walker, English (and , “/z/-devoicing: A Feature of Appalachian English”? (co-authored with Amy Southall, Professional and Technical Writing). Christopher Keller, History, presented “Flatt & Scruggs and Martha White: Complicating Nostalgia in Bluegrass TV.”

Robert Kitchens, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, presented “Murder by Dynamite and Other Stories: Visions of Staging Contemporary Appalachian Performance. Jordan Laney, ASPECT, participated in the “Examining Feminism in Appalachia through Contemporary Issues: A Discussion of Intersections and Place” roundtable. Ricky Mullins, Curriculum and Instruction, presented “Coal Power: Four Stories of How the Coal Industry Affected Individual Lives in Central Appalachia.” Micah Untiedt, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, “The Crockett House, Circa 1840: Endangered Appalachian History in Seven Mile Ford, Virginia.” Shelby Ward, ASPECT, presented ‘‘The Appalachian in Exile: Redrawing Regional Boundary Lines with the Poetic Imaginaries of a Wandering, Mountainous Body.’”

In addition, the following master’s students in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, under the direction of Danille Christensen, Religion and Culture, as curator, designed #HandsOn: Skill and Creativity in Southwest Virginia, an exhibit of their fieldwork: Elizabeth Howard, Danielle Lewandowski, Kendall Lucy, Heather Lyne, Martina Svyantek, Sarah Taylor, Drew Walton, Moriah Webster, and Elizabeth Wells.

Numerous faculty from across the university presented papers and served as discussants, contributing to the largest Appalachian Studies conference ever, with 1,045 registrants, approximately 500 attendees at public events, and more than 210 sessions.

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