Greetings from the Richards Center! 


It has been a busy and exciting fall semester at the Richards Center. Thank you to everyone who has contributed and continues to make this community thrive. I hope you will enjoy this fall/winter newsletter (which is now being issued on a quarterly schedule). Here you'll find highlights of our recent activities, including the well-attended Brose lectures, our manuscript workshop series, and our scholar-practitioner conversations, as well as a glimpse of the remarkable work being done by our affiliated faculty, Fellows, and graduate students. 


We are already making exciting plans for the schedule next semester; please keep an eye out in January for the spring schedule! 



All my best,


Emma Teitelman 

Associate Director 

The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center 

Penn State

Fall/Winter 2021 Newsletter

Virtual Book Launch and Discussion

Please join the Richards Center on Wednesday, December 1 from 4:00–5:15 p.m. EST for a conversation about Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery, recently published by LSU Press. The conversation will feature Sasha Turner (Johns Hopkins University) as moderator, and comments from editors Sean Morey Smith (Humanities Research Center, Rice University), Christopher D.E. Willoughby (Charles Warren Center, Harvard University), and contributors Deirdre Cooper Owens (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Rana Hogarth (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and Elise A. Mitchell (New York University).  

Come Write with the Richards Center!

Every Monday afternoon from 2:004:00 p.m. the Richards Center, holds a virtual writing group for center affiliates. Come for the accountability; stay for the solidarity! Consistent attendance is not required. To join, please register here.

Recent Events at the Richards Center

RCCWE Manuscript Workshops

This semester we launched a new series of manuscript workshops; the goal is to create a space to engage with works-in-progress by members of the center’s intellectual community. Our first workshop of the year (pictured above) featured former postdoctoral Fellow Jonathan Jones (Virginia Military Institute), followed by associate director and research professor Emma Teitelman this month on Zoom. We look forward to contiuing this series next semester; please stay tuned for the schedule!

Lunchtime Discussions with Scholar-Practitioners

This year, the Richards Center is also convening a series of lunchtime discussions with prominent historians to discuss their methods, research processes, and experiences as scholars who are embedded both within academia and in communities beyond. These have been lively conversations and opportunities to deconstruct our intellectual processes.


Former postdoctoral Fellow Alaina Roberts (University of Pittsburgh) kicked off this series to discuss her work at the intersection of Native and African American history, giving insight into the process of writing her first book, I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (Penn Press 2021).


In October, Whitney Martinko (Villanova University) discussed her recent book, Historic Real Estate: Market Morality and the Politics of Preservation in the Early United States (Penn Press 2020), her methods in material culture, and her engagement with historic preservation today. 

2021 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Series





The 2021 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Series was held last month, featuring Sarah Gardner, Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University, on the subject of “Shakespeare Fights the Civil War.” This three-part series examined how warring parties engaged Shakespeare during America’s deadliest conflict. Dr. Gardner explored, among other questions, the role Shakespeare played in the nationalist strivings of both the Union and the Confederacy. By elucidating how Unionists and Confederates interpreted Shakespeare and, in turn, how Shakespeare shaped their understanding of war, these lectures revealed how the war’s participants articulated what they thought and felt about the war and its consequences. Dr. Gardner's lectures will be published in the future by the University of North Carolina Press. 


Lorien Foote Publishes Brose Lectures Book
Lorien Foote, Patricia and Bookman Peters Professor of History at Texas A&M University, has published a book drawn from her 2019 Brose Distinguished Lecture Series. Rites of Retaliation: Civilization, Soldiers, and Campaigns in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press 2021) explores notions of civilized warfare and rituals of retaliation in the Union and the Confederacy. Blending military and cultural history, Rites of Retaliation sheds light on how Americans fought over what it meant to be civilized and who should be extended the protections of a civilized world. Dr. Foote reflected on these themes in an essay on the UNC Press blog in commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. 
Professor Blair's Latest Book Covers Violence
and Narrative After the Civil War
William A. Blair, Ferree Professor Emeritus of Middle American History and director emeritus of the Richards Center, published his latest book with the University of North Carolina Press this month. Grounded in deep archival research in the records of the Freedmen's Bureau, The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction investigates federal efforts to document and deploy information about violence against formerly enslaved people in the early days of Reconstruction. Exploring themes of narrative, violence, and information, Dr. Blair raises questions that remain deeply relevant about the politics of truth in highly polarized times. 
Congratulations to Recent Prize Winners!

Former postdoctoral Fellow Alaina Roberts (University of Pittsburgh) was awarded the Vicky L. Ruiz Award by the Western History Association for the best article on race in the North American West. Dr. Roberts's article, A Different Forty Acres: Land, Kin, and Migration in the Late Nineteenth-Century West” appeared in The Journal of the Civil War Era in June 2020. Exploring the history of land allotment in Indian Territory, it shows how some people of African descent privileged the acquisition of land over the realization of political rights.

Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City was named as the best academic book at the college level by the International Latino Book Awards. Barrio America is the latest book by Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz, associate professor of history and director of the Latina/o Studies program. The book explores how Latino and Latina immigrants revived American cities beginning in the 1970s, following decades of disinvestment and white migration to the suburbs.
Crystal Sanders, associate professor of history, was the recent recipient of an Equity Award by the American Historical Association. The AHA Equity Award recognizes those who have achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical discipline. Dr. Sanders also delivered the 2021 Annual Earlie E. Thorpe Memorial Lecture presented by North Carolina Central University. Dr. Sanders's lecture, which was recorded, examined histories of Black graduate education during the era of Jim Crow.  
Former postdoctoral Fellow Jessica Marie Johnson, assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland, has received the Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora history from the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History for her first book, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. Centering New Orleans as the quintessential site for investigating Black women's practices of freedom in the Atlantic world, Wicked Flesh argues that African women and women of African descent endowed free status with meaning through active, aggressive, and sometimes unsuccessful intimate and kinship practices. 
Mary E. Mendoza, assistant professor of history, has been awarded the Gordon Bakken Award of Merit by the Western History Association. This award is given for outstanding service to the field of western history and to the WHA. Dr. Mendoza's contributions to western history include her work on the intersections between the natural and built environments along the U.S.-Mexico border. She also serves on the WHA's Committee on Race in the American West.
Martha Few, professor of Latin American history and women's, gender, and sexuality studies, has been awarded the 2021 Teaching Edition Award by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender for her book,  Baptism Through Incision: The Postmortem Cesarean Operation in the Spanish Empire, co-authored with Zeb Tortorici and Adam Warren.
Faculty Publications
Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of history and African American studies, recently published a state-of-the-field essay, “New Directions in African American Sports History,” in a special issue of the Journal of African American History. She has also been busy this fall giving a number of talks at Auburn University, King’s College, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and ProQuest, among others, and contributing her expertise in the history of sport to HBO’s documentary Leveling the Playing Field
The King of Crenshaw (a four-part podcast series presented by ESPN’s 30 for 30), and Michael Johnson’s new podcast from Audible , Defiance.
Cynthia A. Young, associate professor of African American studies, English, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, recently published an opinion editorial in The Guardian in the wake of Colin Powell's death. The piece explores themes of integration and Blackness in the U.S. military and Powell's own trajectory as a figurehead of American empire.  
Julie Reed, associate professor of history, contributed to the newly released documentary, Searching for Sequoyah. The film chronicles the life and accomplishments of the legendary nineteenth-century Cherokee visionary, Sequoyah (George Guess), through the oral stories of five modern-day Sequoyah descendants. In honor of Native American Heritage Month in November, Penn State hosted a screening and panel discussion featuring Dr. Reed.
Richards Center Director Rachel Shelden co-authored an essay (with Erik B. Alexander of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) in The Washington Post. Drs. Shelden and Alexander address longstanding myths about the presidential election of 1876 and its relevance to the state of American democracy today. Dr. Shelden also delivered a lecture last month to the National Civil War Museum that explored the history of the Supreme Court and the coming of the Civil War.
Graduate Student Publications
Doctoral candidate in history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies Paulina Rodríguez recently co-authored a chapter, “Un Puente a la Mesa: The Role of Cultural Consultants in the Production of Disney/Pixar’s Coco,” with Litzy Galarza, that was published in Immigrant Generations, Media Representations, and Audiences.
Doctoral candidate in history and African American and diaspora studies ShaVonte’ Mills recently published an article, An African School for African Americans: Black Demands for Education in Antebellum Boston, in the History of Education Quarterly. ShaVonte’ was also featured on the History of Education Quarterly's podcast to talk about the article and answer questions.  
This publication is available in alternative media upon request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status. U.Ed. LBS 22-206 

Richards Civil War Era Center | 108 Weaver Building | University Park, PA 16802

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