Dr. Kirchmann wins Halecki prize

Dr. Anna Jaroszynska-Kirchmann and Theodore L. Zawistowski, who co-authored Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902-1969: A Corner for Everybody (Lexington Books: 2014), received an Oskar Halecki Award for the best volume on the history of the Polish American experience. The award ceremony took place during the Polish American Historical Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta, GA, January 7-9, 2016 (in conjunction with the American Historical Association).

The book includes close to five hundred letters from readers published in the Polish-language weekly Ameryka Echo for over seven decades. Zawistowski, who translated the letters, and Jaroszynska-Kirchmann, who edited the volume and also translated the letters, collaborated on the project for nearly ten years. For more information on the volume see https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739188729 .


In the photo from left: Theodore L. Zawistowski, Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchmann, and Grazyna Kozaczka (Czenovia College, NY), President of the Polish American Historical Association.

Dr. Katie Lynch

The History department is extremely sad to note the passing of one of our own, Dr. Katie Lynch. She taught East Asian history at Eastern from 1995-2007, and was chair of the department from 2005-2007. She will be missed.

Her obituary:

Catherine (Katie) Lynch passed away on December 5th, after a brief and unexpected battle with cancer.  She was born on November 7, 1949, grew up in Watertown, MA and spent her summers on Martha’s Vineyard with her family.  Over the years, the Vineyard served to bring her family and friends together and remained a central part of her life until the end.  As a teenager on the Vineyard, she built a “Mirror Dinghy” with her father from a blueprint and the boat sailed on the Menemsha pond for years.  In her youth, she also rode horses, threw pots and played the flute rather well.  She went on to earn a BA in Civilizational Studies from the University of Chicago and a MA and Ph.D. in East Asian History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She taught East Asian History for over twenty-three years, and retired from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2007 where she was a devoted teacher and scholar and department chair from ’05 to ’07.  Katie spent more than seven years in China between early study abroad and later research trips, spending considerable time in Beijing, Suzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai.  In her retirement, she was a Fellow at the Institute of Modern Chinese Thought and Culture, East China Normal University, in Shanghai, China.  Katie was an accomplished scholar in modern Chinese intellectual history and during her brief illness, she finalized two major works for publication on the thinker and social activist, Liang Shuming—the culmination of decades of research.  Katie also spent her retirement serving on two Chaplin town boards, on the board of directors for the Coventry Lake Community Rowing club, and devoted time to the Eastern Connecticut land conservancy, Joshua’s Trust, where she formed half of the boundary “crew”.  Her friends loved her for her warmth, good humor, constant smile, and intellectual curiosity.  She had a passion for learning and a zest for life.  As an enthusiastic Justice of the Peace for the town of Chaplin, Katie officiated at several weddings over the years including those of friends.   Katie loved good food and good company and will be sorely missed by all her friends and family.  She was predeceased by her parents, Anne Borders and Kevin Lynch.  She leaves behind her siblings and their families:  brother David Lynch and his daughter Sophia; sister Laurie Lynch and husband Hans Peters; and brother Peter Lynch, his wife Jessica, and their sons Ian and Micah.  She also leaves behind her cousin Molly Borders and her daughter Cynthia, her dear friend Naomi London, as well as her two Connecticut families:  Hill, Andy & Sarah Bullard, and Sarah’s daughter, Simonne, and Nicole Krassas, husband John Moran, and their daughters Maggie and Anna.  A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held in the Johnson Room of the Eastern Connecticut State Library in Willimantic, CT at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in her name to Coventry Lake Community Rowing, Inc., 412 Browns Road, Storrs, CT 06268 or to Joshua’s Trust, 624 Wormwood Hill Road, Mansfield Center, CT 06250. The rowing club is naming a boat after Katie and she was honored by the gesture.  She said she liked to think of herself as a boat and we like to think of her rowing off to her next adventure.

La revedere to Dr. Clark

The History department is sad to report that Dr. Roland Clark will be leaving us at the end of Fall 2015, heading for England. The department, and our students, will miss his explorations of eastern Europe and fascism, his trenchant wit, as well as his numerous contributions to the department and to Eastern. We wish him and his family well.

Teachers teaching teachers teaching teachers (unto the third generation)

Dr. Kirchmann has heard from another History alumna! Logan Tonucci graduated in May with a degree in History/Social Science. She also served as the Department of History Student Marshall for the 2015 commencement. Logan writes: “I have some exciting news to share with you. I’ve been working as a 6th grade social studies teacher at a middle school in New London, CT. It has been such a challenge, but even more of a blessing. My students are truly amazing. I am so thankful I chose teaching (Thanks to Doug Craig).”

Mr. Doug Craig graduated from Eastern in 2003 with a History/Social Science degree, went on to get his Master’s in History, and was Logan’s high school history teacher! Now we are counting on Logan to eventually send our way some great students of hers to continue the tradition. Congratulations, Logan!

What the French feared and the English loved

Dr. Ostwald just had published a chapter on “Popular English Perceptions of Louis XIV’s Way of War” in the book collection Louis XIV Outside In: Images of the Sun King beyond France, 1661-1715, edited by Tony Claydon and Charles-Edouard Levillain (Ashgate, 2015). It describes England’s fascination with field battle circa 1700, and how this infatuation shaped English understanding of their, and their French enemy’s, conduct during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714).



Eastern Connecticut State University Student Emily Komornik of Shelton Conducts Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research and creative activities at Eastern Connecticut State University provide opportunities for students to work closely with faculty mentors on research or creative work.

Eastern student Emily Komornik ’16 of Shelton has been participating in an undergraduate research project related to her major. Her research during the summer of 2015 included accessing the Jonathan Edwards Collection at Yale University’s Divinity Library. Komornik’s major is History and English.

The foundation of her current research began her sophomore year after taking a historical methods course with History Professor Caitlin Carenen. The final project for the class was a research paper based on a primary source document. Komornik chose to write about Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” due to her interest in religious history — the Great Awakening in particular.

She submitted her original project for consideration for the J. Eugene Smith Library Research Award Scholarship and won. At that point, Professor Carenen and Komornik discussed expanding the research paper into an honors thesis. The proposal and literature review for her thesis was approved in April. Komornik plans to complete her work during the fall 2015 semester.

“My thesis focuses on the rhetoric of two movements, the Great Awakening, a religious movement in colonial New England which lasted from 1737 to 1745, and the American Revolution. I explore how these movements compare in terms of the use of rhetoric, as well as the types of publications utilized as strategies for its use. So far, I have found that the propaganda of the American Revolution, including newspaper articles, speeches, pamphlets, as well as the sermons of the ministers of the Great Awakening, are both deeply rooted in appeals to emotion. Harnessing the power of language and linguistic persuasion has proven to be an important strategy for everything from propaganda to presidential speeches,” said Komornik.

According to Carenen, “Emily is extremely gifted and her project is an exciting and ambitious one. Even though it’s set in the 18th century, the question she is asking — “how does rhetoric inspire rebellion?”–has relevance for us today. As a historian of American religious history, I have helped Emily fine-tune her project and it’s been a pleasure to work with her.”

During the spring 2016 semester, Komornik will be writing a critical research paper as an independent study with English Professor Maureen McDonnell. The focus of the paper is three Shakespearian tragedies – Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear – and the interplay of Catholic ghosts and “pagan” representations throughout.

Komornik plans to present both research papers at Eastern’s undergraduate research and art conference in the spring. She also intends to apply to other research conferences in the spring, including the Council of Public Liberals Arts Colleges (COPLAC).

After graduating in May 2016, Komornik is considering pursuing either a master’s degree or Ph.D. in history, with an interest in publishing and archival work, or a law degree with a focus in employment or appellate law.

“My research has developed into a much more complex research topic than I started with, but if anything, my passion for the subject has grown. I believe I am so interested in the primary documents of the Great Awakening and of the American Revolution because they inspired controversial, extreme rebellions. I am fascinated by the way that words can hold the power to influence people so profoundly,” said Komornik.

-Anne Pappalardo

History Alumna Christine Geer reports from grad school in Boston

We are pleased to hear from History/Social Science major and recent graduate Christine Geer, who was a recipient of the Outstanding History/Social Science Student award for 2015, as well as a member of Phi Alpha Theta. Christine is now pursuing a graduate degree in public health, her minor at Eastern, at Boston University. She writes that she enjoys both BU and living in the big city. Christine credits her academic success in graduate school to the academic rigor of the Eastern history program; she writes:

“I have to say how much I think my degree in history & social sciences is helping me. I’m taking a policy course and a behavioral theory course, and I think I am much better prepared than some other students who did not come from this background.  All of the practice with researching and writing has paid off, too! Admittedly, though, I am thankful to take a break from Chicago Style citations (ha-ha). I believe I might be the only teacher in the program, so that gives me a unique perspective and skill-set, also.”

Thanks, Christine, for keeping in touch!

C-SPAN American History TV comes to Eastern!

On Thursday, November 12, 2015, Professor Balcerski’s HIS 120: Early American History to 1877 class was filmed by C-SPAN American History TV for their program “Lectures in History.”  Professor Balcerski delivered a lecture entitled “The Political Culture of the Antebellum Congress.”  The lecture will eventually air on television (date TBD) and the show’s web site at URL: http://www.c-span.org/series/?lecturesInHistory

Professor Balcerski lectures to his HIS 120 class for C-SPAN American History TV.

Politics inspired by History

Recent Eastern graduate Kyle Donovan (double major in Political Science and Sociology, with a History minor) was recently elected to the town of Manchester’s Board of Directors. The Hartford Courant profiled him before the election here. Drawing on the skills learned in his History courses, he’ll undoubtedly conduct library research to uncover long-forgotten ideas for municipal tax reform. Congrats to Kyle.

Debate over Manifest Destiny

In HIS 241: The American Frontier, students debated the question: “To what extent was manifest destiny inevitable?”  Divided into two larger teams—either “For” or “Against” the question—each side was asked to work in smaller groups to prepare key points of supporting evidence.  From these smaller teams, two spokespersons were chosen (nicknamed “Lewis and Clark”) to participate in the debate, with one sub-group each offering an opening statement of five minutes, a rebuttal of two minutes, and open-ended debate of five minutes.  Professor Balcerski scored the debate.  Each side offered compelling commentary on the historical questions of expansion of the American nation, the process of frontier settlement, and the removal of Native Americans.  While both sides faithfully defined their views, Professor Balcerski awarded the win to the “Against” team.  Both sides left with smiles on their face, as seen in the photo taken after the debate.

Students who debated pose for the camera in the American Frontier class