University at Buffalo Department of History

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Conference to Honor Roger Des Forges

October 2, 1:00- 7:00

The UB History Department presents GLOBALISM IN CHINESE PERSPECTIVE:  China’s Roles in World History and Historiography

After more than forty years on the History faculty of the University at Buffalo, Roger Des Forges plans to retire in January 2015. The History Department presents a symposium to commemorate his extraordinarily productive scholarly career and his work as a thoughtful and caring instructor and adviser. Participants—many of whom are Roger’s former students—have been invited to reflect on a manuscript that he has been working on in which he lays out a framework for understanding world history that extends his conceptualization of “centrality” in Chinese history. Participants will address some of Roger’s ideas in their own comments on the topic.

The Symposium and reception are co-sponsored by the Confucius Institute, Office of the Vice Provost for International Education, Humanities Institute, and Asian Studies Program.


More detailed information can be found here.




Native Brazil: Beyond the Convert and the Cannibal, 1500-1900, edited by H. Langfur, Released

The earliest European accounts of Brazil’s indigenous inhabitants focused on the natives’ startling appearance and conduct—especially their nakedness and cannibalistic rituals— and on the process of converting them to clothed, docile Christian vassals. This volume contributes to the unfinished task of moving beyond such polarities and dispelling the stereotypes they fostered, which have impeded scholars’ ability to make sense of Brazil’s rich indigenous past.

This volume is a significant contribution to understanding the ways Brazil’s native peoples shaped their own histories. Incorporating the tools of anthropology, geography, cultural studies, and literary analysis, alongside those of history, the contributors revisit old sources and uncover new ones. They examine the Indians’ first encounters with Portuguese explorers and missionaries and pursue the consequences through four centuries. Some of the peoples they investigate were ultimately defeated and displaced by the implacable advance of settlement. Many individuals died from epidemics, frontier massacres, and forced labor. Hundreds of groups eventually disappeared as distinct entities. Yet many others found ways to prolong their independent existence or to enter colonial and later national society, making constrained but pivotal choices along the way.


The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment by Liana Vardi released in paperback in January 2014.

The Physiocrats believed that wealth came exclusively from the land, that nature was fecund and man could harness its reproductive forces. Capital investments in agriculture and hard work would create profits that circulated to other sectors and supported all social institutions. Physiocracy, which originated in late eighteenth-century France, is therefore widely considered a forerunner of modern economic theory. The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment places the Physiocrats in context by inscribing economic theory within broader Enlightenment culture. Liana Vardi discusses three theorists - Francois Quesnay; Victor Riquetti, marquis de Mirabeau; and Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours - and shows how their understanding of mental processes, science, politics, and the arts influenced their individual approach to economic writing. The difficulty in explaining the doctrine, combined with the expectation that the public would be persuaded by its arguments, mired physiocracy in endless contradictions. This work offers a framework for understanding physiocratic theory and its complicated relation to modern economics.


A History of Asia, 7th edition by Rhoads Murphy with Kristen Stapleton released

Before he passed away in December 2012 at the age of 91, Rhoads Murphey asked UB professor Kristin Stapleton, who had studied with him as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, to help him update his textbooks. She worked with him first on the fifth edition of his _East Asia: A New History_ and then on the seventh edition of his _A History of Asia_, which has just appeared in print.


Samantha Barbas, UB Law, Talk in the History Department

The History Department was happy to welcome Associate Professor of Law Samantha Barbas on Friday October 11th.  Theauthor of two books: Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001) and The First Lady of Hollywood (University of California Press, 2005), Prof. Barbas spoke about her new project "The Laws of Image"


Welcome back!

Welcome back to our returning students, faculty, and alumni.  And just plain "welcome" to our new students.  Those of you who follow us on Facebook (and if you don't, you should) have already heard all this good news, but it bears repeating here.

• Carole Embarton was formally promoted to Associate Professor.

• Susan Cahn was awarded a major fellowship for the 2013-14 academic year.  She will be a William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow at the Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt University

• Andreas Daum was awarded a UB Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship for Fall 2013

• Gail Radford received the Milton Plesur Award for Excellence in Teaching, from the UB Student Association

• Victoria Wolcott was appointed a “Distinguished Lecturer” by the Organization of American Historians, and her name will be made available by the OAH to universities.


Congratulations to 2013-2014 Undergraduate Scholarship and Award Winners

Milligan Scholarship:

Destiny Johnson
Senovia Cuevas

Plesur Merit Scholarships:

Cristian Andzel
Peter Malia

Plesur and Schoellkopf Study Abroad Awards:

Daniel Azzinaro
Yerin Seo

Plesur / Walker Study Abroad:

Brian Ash
Senovia Cuevas (with Plesur and Schoellkopf Study Abroad)

Horton Paper Prize:

1st place: Megan McInerney, “Indentured Servants in Seventeenth-Century Virginia: The Role of the Legislative System in their Collective Abuse”

2nd place: Ari Goldberg, “City of Homes: Parkways, Expressways and Olmsted in Buffalo, New York.”

Honorable Mentions: Kathryn Horn, “Roots of Tourism at Gettysburg: 1863-1913” and Suzanne Starr, “Perce

ptions of Welfare: How the War on Poverty became a War on the Poor.”


Helping Historians Enliven Their Classes with French Film and Fiction

Liana Vardi has since 2010 been the editor of an exciting new project, Film and Fiction for French Historians, which is being housed under the H-France umbrella.  The mission statement of the electronic bulletin, the first issue of which appeared in December 2010, explains,  "From time to time, individuals write to H-France asking for suggestions about possible fictional materials to assign in a French history course. A flurry of emails follows with recommendations of movies or novels. Sometimes, as in the case of Sofia Coppola’s film Marie-Antoinette (2006), a lively debate ensues. Such exchanges suggest the usefulness of 'a cultural bulletin' that informs list-members of new novels or films related to the history of France, especially with an eye to their use in the classroom. Reviews written by paid critics for such venues as The New York Times or The New Republic rarely assess the compatibility of fictional representations of the past and historians’ knowledge of it. They certainly never consider recent cultural productions from the perspective of pedagogy. That is the purpose of Film and Fiction for French Historians: A Cultural Bulletin."




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