Author: Carrero, Yesenia

Sharon Harris Book Award 2019 Winners

UCHI is honored to announce the winners of the Sharon Harris Book Award for 2019:

Daniel Hershenzon

Daniel Hershenzon

The Captive Sea: Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)

The Captive Sea Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean by Daniel HershenzonThe Harris Book Award Committee notes, “Prof. Hershenzon’s book is an illuminating study of the redemption of captives in the early modern Mediterranean. The Captive Sea traces the seizure of Christians and Muslims by pirates, their enslavement in hostile lands, and their occasional return through complicated systems of ransom. Deeply researched in Spanish archives, the book examines the flourishing of a slave system that differs from the Atlantic slave trade, and it shows the ways in which the trade in captives encouraged intercultural communication between Southern Europe and North Africa.”

Helen M. Rozwadowski

Helen M. Rozwadowski

Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (London: Reaktion Books, 2018)

Vast Expanses, A History Of The Oceans  By  Helen M. Rozwadowski“Prof. Rozwadowski’s book is an engaging overview of the oceans from deep prehistory to the present. It focuses on the relationship between people and an environment that once seemed beyond human influence. The idea of the ocean as a limitless frontier flourished but eventually withered in the late twentieth century, as people began to confront the damage they had done through pollution and overfishing. In order for us now to produce positive environmental change, Rozwadowski concludes, “We must jettison our perception of the ocean as a timeless place, apart from humans.” This concise and readable book demonstrates the value of the humanities in addressing the planet’s looming environmental crisis.”

We thank the award committee for their service. The Sharon Harris Book Award recognizes scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

Scandal and Murder in the Folger Archives

This post comes from the Early Modern Studies Working Group’s Co-Coordinator, Melissa Rohrer. Melissa is a PhD Candidate in the English Department.


In October of 2018, I visited the Folger Shakespeare Library with generous funding from the UConn Early Modern Studies Working Group and the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute. My dissertation investigates how playwrights of the early modern period adapted notorious true events for the stage—events such as true crimes and scandals. I already had access to the plays which adapted these events, so I my trip to the Folger was centered largely on learning more about how these events were understood, circulated, and commented upon, both at the time of their unfolding and in the centuries after they transpired.

Figure 1: This portrait may be of Sir Thomas Overbury. It is currently hanging in the reading room at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Figure 1: This portrait may be of Sir Thomas Overbury. It is currently hanging in the reading room at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The archival materials I investigated during this trip centered on a scandal known as the Overbury Affair, a bizarre murder conspiracy that unfolded between 1613 and 1616 and which implicated one of the most powerful royal couples in King James I’s court. Sir Thomas Overbury died in 1613 while imprisoned in the Tower of London, and two years later it came to light that he had been murdered at the behest of the Countess of Somerset. Enraged that Overbury had tried to thwart her marriage, the Countess (Lady Frances Carr née Howard) enlisted several co-conspirators of lower birth to poison him during his imprisonment; though poison was slipped into several tarts and jellies sent to Overbury, a poison-laced enema is what eventually killed him. The revelation that Overbury had been murdered caused an uproar in both in the royal court and in larger society; Robert Carr, the Earl of Somerset, was James I’s great favorite, and it was unclear to what extent Carr—or even the King himself—were complicit in the murder. Large crowds turned up to attend the trials of all who were associated with the conspiracy, and transcripts of these proceedings were circulated contemporaneously in manuscript.

The first part of my research was examining some of these manuscript copies, particularly those which transcribed the arraignments of Frances Howard’s co-conspirators: Richard Weston (an assistant jailor), Anne Turner (Howard’s confidante), and Gervase Helwys (Lord Lieutenant of the Tower). These manuscripts demonstrate contemporary interest in the court proceedings, which could not be published and so were circulated via manuscript. Whoever transcribed these documents took great care to recreate these arraignments as closely as possible. For example, the manuscript of Anne Turner’s arraignment includes a word-for-word copy of a letter Frances Howard sent to Turner, including the instructions “Burne this.” Transcripts such as these acted as a kind of news report about the trial, and for those who could read or copy them, it was the best way access the real accusations against and confessions of those who were involved in the Overbury Affair.

Figure 2: Manuscript transcription of the arraignment of Anne Turner, including Frances Howard’s letter to Turner.
Figure 2: Manuscript transcription of the arraignment of Anne Turner, including Frances Howard’s letter to Turner.

During my time at the Folger, I also examined the 1651 quarto, A True and Historical Relation of the Poysoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, With the Severall Arraingments and Speeches of those that were executed thereupon. This tract was published at the close of the English Civil War, when it was no longer prohibited to publish content that presented a critical view of the monarchy and aristocracy. Without these restrictions, the pamphlet gathered together a multitude of official and legal documents—such as arraignments, confessions, and royal speeches—concerning both Overbury’s murder and the divorce Frances Howard orchestrated in order to marry Robert Carr. While the materials included in this pamphlet include no commentary by the compiler, the original owner of the Folger’s copy made several comments and corrections in the margins. These marginal comments are what make this pamphlet useful to my project, as they demonstrate how ordinary citizens engaged with the scandal of Overbury’s murder. The owner’s careful correction of errors suggest that the scandal was still well-known nearly 40 years after it occurred, and his comment of “preposterous” alongside an opinion given by King James in Frances Howard’s divorce trial suggests that ill feeling about the scandal and its participants still lingered in the public consciousness.

Figure 3:Page from A True and Historical Relation of the Poysoning of Sir Thomas Overbury (B4) with marginal commentary.
Figure 3:Page from A True and Historical Relation of the Poysoning of Sir Thomas Overbury (B4) with marginal commentary.

I spent the rest of my research time looking at various other materials related to the Overbury Affair, including responses to the scandal written centuries after Overbury was murdered. I transcribed a handwritten theater review, supposedly written by David Garrick, for the 1777 production of Sir Thomas Overbury: A Tragedy by Richard Savage. My dissertation is largely concerned with scandals that were adapted for dramatization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but Savage’s play and Garrick’s review of it indicate that these scandals remained relevant and of interest to theater audiences over a hundred years after they occurred. A similar interest inspired Andrew Amos to write his 1846 book, The Great Oyer of Poisoning: The Trial of the Earl of Somerset for the Poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury. Amos is one of the first writers to treat the Overbury Affair as a subject of significant legal and scholarly inquiry, and his book remains an important source on the trials for historians and legal scholars.

In their own way, all these materials hint at the lingering impact scandals can have on a society and its culture. We may think of scandals as phenomena of the moment, events which inspire outrage while current, but which fade from importance once resolved. My study of the Folger’s holdings which relate to the Overbury Affair suggest that this is not the case; scandals can linger in a society’s collective memory for many years, serving as cultural touchstones and points of societal self-reflection. As our own society looks back on the scandalous crimes of the 1990s and adapts these events into movies and television dramas (American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, Casting JonBenet, Lorena, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders), we can look back on the Overbury Affair and its legacy in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century culture for an important precursor.

You Should… Read: Aftermath

Susan Brison’s Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self (Princeton University Press, 2002)

You really should read Susan Brison’s Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self (Princeton University Press, 2002). In this era of random terrorist violence, in the age of #MeToo and those who systematically doubt reports of rape, Brison’s insightful analysis of the process of rebuilding a life after cataclysmic violence is more timely than ever. The book combines first person narrative with careful consideration of survivor testimonies, and weaves these together with philosophical and psychological theories about the nature of the self and the effects of trauma. It is a rich and powerful book. The issues are fraught but the writing is not– it is lucid, engaging, and powerful.

(This book is also available through JStor)

-Lynne Tirrell
Associate Professor of Philosophy
UCHI Fellow in Residence 2018-2019
Department of Philosophy

Announcing the 2019 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Competition

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the ninth annual competition of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program. This initiative places humanities PhDs in substantive roles in diverse nonprofit and government organizations, demonstrating that the capacities developed in the course of earning a doctoral degree in the humanities have wide application beyond the academy. The two-year fellowships carry an annual stipend of $68,000, health insurance, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds for the fellow.

In 2019, ACLS will place up to 21 PhDs as Public Fellows in the following organizations and roles:

 Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA) – Community Engagement & Audience Development Manager

 American Public Media (St. Paul, MN) – Senior Research Analyst

 Center for Court Innovation (New York, NY) – Communications Project Manager

 Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago, IL) – Program Manager

 Citizens’ Committee for the Children of New York (New York, NY) – Policy & Budget Analyst

 Committee to Protect Journalists (New York, NY) – Research Manager

 Community Change (Washington, DC) – Policy Advisor

 Data & Society Research Institute (New York, NY) – Editor

 The German Marshall Fund of the United States (Washington, DC) – Program Officer

 Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (Hartford, CT) – Grants Manager

 Library of America (New York, NY) – Outreach Programs Manager

 National Conference of State Legislatures (Denver, CO) – Legislative Policy Specialist

 National Low Income Housing Coalition (Washington, DC) – Research Analyst

 Natural Resources Defense Council (Washington, DC) – Campaign Advocate, Latin America Project

 PEN America (New York, NY) – Festival Programs Manager

 Public Books (New York, NY) – Associate Editor

 Rare (Arlington, VA) – Community Engagement Manager

 Reinvestment Fund (Philadelphia, PA) – Policy Analyst

 San Francisco Arts Commission (San Francisco, CA) – Community Impact Analyst

 Seattle Office for Civil Rights (Seattle, WA) – Senior Researcher

 World Justice Project (Washington, DC) – Program Manager

Applicants must have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences conferred between September 1, 2015, and June 21, 2019, and must have defended and deposited their dissertations no later than April 5, 2019. US citizenship or permanent resident status is required. The deadline is March 13, 2019, 9 pm EDT.

Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS online application system.

Applicants should not contact any of the organizations directly. Visit ACLS Public Fellowship Competition for complete position descriptions, eligibility criteria, and application information. This program is supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Four Questions with Jason Chang

Jason Oliver Chang

  1. Tell us a bit about the project you are working on at UCHI.
    This project has allowed me to learn a great deal about Asian maritime history and has taught me how little I know. My initial interest in Asian sailors who came to the U.S. but did not become immigrants has opened up a broad inquiry across the Indian Ocean, the archipelagos of southeast Asia and the coastal regions of the South China Sea going back to the seventeenth century.
  2. What drew you to this topic and what exciting developments are you anticipating?
    I was very much seduced by the concept of sailors as being estranged from the national and international order, but sailors are difficult to study because they do not leave many records. More importantly, I have found sailors and the maritime world not all together separate from terrestrial and continental histories, but deeply intertwined but often shadowed from each other.
  3. What are you looking forward to in regard to this year at UCHI?
    I’m looking forward to finding out how wrong I was about my maritime subject. With a great deal of new research from India, UK, China, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Middle East, I know my earlier conceptions will be altered and that is exciting.
  4. Many people wonder what value the humanities and humanities research has in today’s world. What are your thoughts on what humanities scholarship “brings to table?”
    One thing this project has taught me is how regionally diverse, complex, and interlinked seemingly mundane lives can be when put together comparatively. This realization underscores, for me, the enormous value of exploring subjectivity, cultural production, and epistemology in power relations. Not only because it is important to understand the dynamics between the hegemon and subaltern but also to account for, acknowledge, and ward against the erasure of ways of being, ways of signifying, and ways of knowing by those who struggle to be recognized.

The William Benton Museum of Art featured in the Boston Globe

It’s streets lined with shops, galleries, boutiques, and eateries, the quaint old whaling village of Mystic has long been a Bostonian’s go-to day trip. If you did the aquarium last time, try the Mystic Museum of Art. By the banks of the Mystic River, the community art hub houses a permanent collection, rotating exhibits, and, through Dec. 22, a Holiday Gift Market. Shop sailor knot bracelets, ornaments, wine stoppers, pottery, handcrafted soaps, handcrafted jewelry, prints, and the like. Free admission. 9 Water St., Mystic, 860-536-7601.

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.

Publishing NOW: Peter Catapano

Publishing NOW speaker, Peter Catapano of the New York Times and UCHI Director Michael Lynch discussed publishing and careers in journalism.

Publishing NOW speaker, Peter Catapano of the New York Times and UCHI Director Michael Lynch discussed publishing and careers in journalism.


Peter Catapano, Editor, Opinion Section, New York Times
October 2, 2018 4-5pm, with reception to follow

Catapano began his career at The Times as an assistant to The Times Editorial Board in 1998. He became a copy editor in 2000 for The New York Times News Service and joined the Opinion section as an editor in 2005, where he began developing projects specifically for the web.

Catapano has created and edited some of the most popular New York Times online series — The Stone, Anxiety, Happy Days, Menagerie and Home Fires — which helped launch the careers of several writers. He received a Publisher’s Award in 2008 for his work in pioneering the online series.

Catapano has edited and published more than 1,000 pieces in The Times, and has worked directly with both beginners and highly accomplished thinkers and writers, including Arthur Danto, E.O. Wilson, Frans de Waal, Peter Singer, Simon Critchley, Thomas Nagel, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Pico Iyer, Phil Klay, Roy Scranton, Steven Pinker, Siri Hustvedt and Oliver Sacks.

In 2015, Catapano was asked by Dr. Sacks to edit his final essays in The Times chronicling his illness and death, which were collected in “Gratitude” — now a best-selling book by Knopf.

Catapano’s The Stone, established in 2010, is the longest-running online series in Opinion, and draws millions of readers each year. In 2015, Liveright published “The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments,” an anthology of essays from the series. Catapano has sold more than 15,000 copies. Since 2012, about half of the American Philosophical Association’s public philosophy awards have been given to essays published in The Stone. The series has helped bring philosophical thought back into the national conversation.

Get to Know Our Fellows: Christine Sylvester

sylvester-christine-What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

My formal academic background is in the field of International Relations, which in the USA is located in departments of Political Science, and elsewhere is often a field on its own. I have spent most of my academic career in regular tenured positions abroad, in Australia (Australian National University), the Netherlands (The Institute of Social Studies, The Hague), and England (Lancaster University), with visiting research appointments at the University of Zimbabwe, University of Southern California, Gothenburg University and Lund University. Currently I am Professor of Political Science and of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies here at Uconn, in my home state (I am from Milford).
-What is the project you’re currently working on?
In recent years I have been associated with critical war studies in International Relations, emphasizing  war as experience rather than war as military strategy, weapon systems, and foreign policy. I am interested in everyday and ordinary experiences with war inside and outside of war zones, and am spending my year with the Humanities Institute researching new ways of apprehending war through war objects and their display. With a focus on the Vietnam and Iraq (2003) wars, I consider objects that are displayed by professional curators at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, by communities of loss at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, and by veterans of the wars who write novels about their war experiences and mention objects they grew attached to or despised in war zones. The project, called Objects of War: Whose Wars Are on View? is, in effect, a three-way recreation of both wars that works through the power of objects to communicate grand stories of national significance about war and countervailing stories about America's recent wars as experienced by a range of ordinary people involved in them.
-How did you arrive at this topic?
My field of International Relations has a history of writing people out of war studies. This has never sat well with me, especially after I experienced war in Zimbabwe in the days when the new government of Robert Mugabe sought retribution against people in the southern part of the country who supported a different would-be leader. I was there when the infamous Fifth Brigade of the national army, trained by North Korea, moved into the second city of Bulawayo and started shooting and smashing heads. Suddenly and unexpectedly the locals and I were in a war zone, and that experience early in my career, which I wrote up for the magazine The Progressive (1983), has never left me. While working in the UK (2005-2012) I started a multi-disciplinary and collaborative research project called Experiencing War, with colleagues based in Europe, and that project rolled into an ongoing book series I edit with Routledge (London) on War, Politics, Experience. Several volumes in the series are collections by project participants --the latest is Masquerades of War (2015) --while my own theorizing of war as physical and emotional experiences of collective armed conflict appears as War as Experience (2013). The Objects of War research is an off-shoot of that larger project and incorporates my serious interest in museums as important but often overlooked institutions of international relations (Art/Museums: International Relations Where We Least Expect It (2009) and a longstanding tendency to embed quotes from "fictional" people and tales in works of supposed war facts.
-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?
To me it is important for all of us to pay attention to the power of ordinary people to shape international relations and domestic politics today. In the case of war, it is ordinary people who conduct and suffer (and in some cases enjoy or reap benefits from) war. We should not hide the ordinary behind cold abstract terms like "collateral damage," "troops," or "civilians." The current wars in Syria and Iraq are central to the daily lives of everyone there and have become increasingly central to people who live in areas of the world that Syrians and Iraqis seek to enter as international war refugees. We miss so much of what the dailiness of war if we skip over people entirely or uncritically buy into stories of war reported from only one, supposedly expert, angle; when Americans thank soldiers on the street for their service and do not ask them their views on the war and how it is going, we fail to recognize that they are true experts on war, too. It is akin to learning about war from an exhibition at the Smithsonian and not going to see what "ordinary curators" of war display at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or in Section 60 of Arlington. I'm interested in producing a book from the project that is of use to academics and is also accessible to the interested public, because it concerns me that America has rebounded from utter defeat in Vietnam with such a ramp up of the military and war willingness that it makes sense to say that we are in a militarist era of permanent war.

Congratulations to our former Fellow Mohammed Albakry for the publication of: ‘Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution’ Edited by Mohammed Albakry and Rebekah Maggor

Tahrir Tales

Plays from the Egyptian Revolution

Edited by Mohammed Albakry and Rebekah Maggor

360 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 7 1/2 | © 2016

The ten plays in this collection offer unprecedented grassroots perspectives on the jubilation, terror, hope, and heartbreak of mass uprising as seen during and in the wake of the Tahrir Square demonstrations. Collectively tracing events as they unfolded in Egypt from the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime through Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s ascendance to the presidency, the plays present a picture of Egypt in the midst of epochal change, with all the attendant fear, hope, and uncertainty. Ranging from naturalism to documentary to more avant-garde representations, the plays collected in Tahrir Tales represent contemporary Egyptian drama at its most interesting, and, not coincidentally, most politically, committed.