Research Support for History Graduate Students

Three History Ph.D. students are among the recipients of the research fellowships awarded by the MU Graduate School for 2011-12. Bethany Harding and McKayla Sutton received Smith Family Fellowships, while Dominic Faraone received an Arthur J. Schmitt Fellowship.

Dominic is working with Steve Avella on a dissertation titled, “Catholics and Urban Life in Chicago, 1965-1996,” which examines the interplay of Catholics and urban life in Chicago between the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) and 1996—the year that Cardinal Joseph Bernardin passed away. It explores how Catholicism influenced Chicago’s development, and how social, economic, and demographic trends reciprocally affected Catholic life. He is sensitive to conspicuous forms of Catholicism in Chicago, such as Catholic health care, educational, and social welfare programs, as well as Catholic leaders’ influence on local political decision-making. The dissertation devotes equal consideration to more subtle initiatives, such as the Catholic contribution to community formation and urban stability.

Bethany is working with Kristen Foster on a dissertation called "Becoming American: The Struggle for Postcolonial Identity in the Early American Republic, 1789-1815.” Scholars of post-colonialism have emphasized the need to include analyses of what has been called the "second world" or post-imperial societies that were once settler colonies. This project will approach the revolutionary generation in America as one of settler-subjects whose world had instilled in them a dual identity as both colonized and colonizer. It will argue that as such, the search for a postcolonial identity made the issue of relations between Americans and the former mother country one of the most important factors shaping political and, by extension cultural debates between 1789 and 1815.

McKayla is working with Tim McMahon. Her dissertation topic is “Illuminating the Irish Free State: Nationalism, National Identity, and the Promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme.” It examines the promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme, a national electrification project, and its impacts on the development of an Irish national identity in the early years of the Free State. As the most expansive and costly industrial project undertaken in Ireland, the Scheme exemplified the challenges of incorporating modernity into the conservative and agrarian ethos of Irish nationalism. The collective efforts made by the government, press, and church to endorse electricity address issues of gender, race, religion, and perceptions of Irishness, but also transcend an exclusively national focus in redefining the Free State’s relationship with Britain and its status in interwar Europe.

In addition, Sutton, Charissa Keup, and Matt Costello received grants to help fund travel to conferences at which they were delivering papers.


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