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Chabraja Center Happenings

The Chabraja Center for Historical Studies

Amy Stanly at Harris 108 Podium 2022

In Fall 2022 the Chabraja Center welcomed new Director Amy Stanley, an award-winning historian of Japan, whose energy and enthusiasm is propelling the Center in new directions. 

In October, CCHS celebrated (a bit late due to the Covid pandemic) its fifteen-year anniversary with a lecture from Henry Binford on the social, cultural, and economic significance of ice cream. We had a great turn-out of students, faculty, alums, and administrators from across the university, and lunch and ice cream cake were served. We now plan to kick off the academic year with an annual Ice Cream Lecture by History faculty on topics of broad popular interest.

The Center moved to holding 2022-23 events in person, much to the delight of historians at Northwestern. Improved international conditions also allowed us to resume our global doctoral exchange with Queen Mary University of London, which had been suspended during the pandemic. The Center sent a group of graduate students to London during Spring Break to engage with their QMUL peers and faculty at a workshop and other joint activities. Next year a group from QMUL will visit Evanston.

At our public lunch lectures guest speakers addressed a slew of wide-ranging subjects, from “Rethinking the Aztecs” by Camilla Townsend (Rutgers) to a survey of changing perceptions of the Japanese Empire by Louise Young (U of Wisconsin—Madison), from Charles Postel (San Francisco State University) on “Pearl Harbor Blues: The Black Experience in the World War II Era” to Emily Greble (Vanderbilt) exploring legal matters in the Ottoman-European borderlands. CCHS annual collaborative lectures dealt with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as well as early African American book history, while our own Dyan Elliott gave the Gray Boyce Memorial Lecture in Medieval History, speaking on “Digging Up Dirt: Exhumation in the Middle Ages.” These events are always well attended. In addition, in the winter and Spring quarters Northwestern historians participated in faculty work-in-progress workshops. As part of the March prospective graduate students weekend, the Center organized the annual celebration of recent books by History faculty, showcasing 13 books published from 2021 to 2023.

CCHS Center Associates gather around the table

The Center June 2 graduate conference on “Commercial Networks: Connections, Conversations, Conflicts,” convened by our T.H. Breen Fellow Claire Arnold, brings back to campus former Northwesterners Sarah Pearsall (Johns Hopkins) as keynote speaker and Peter Thilly (University of Mississippi) as faculty commentator.                                 

For the CCHS Teaching Initiative Professor Ken Alder and graduate student Colin Bos designed a new history course, taught in the Spring Quarter, on “History of the Future.” Chabraja Teaching Postdoctoral Fellows taught History seminars, while two Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellows in Public Service worked on the online publication Public Books and at the Chicago Leather Museum and Archives, respectively. Each summer the Center also dispenses a number of summer fellowships for graduates to work for various non-profit organizations in Chicago     and beyond. Throughout the year Center associates—postdocs and graduate T.H. Breen Fellows and the Quinn Fellow—meet to participate in CCHS events and collaborative workshops.

Under the aegis of CCHS twelve History professors oversaw a total of 24 Leopold Fellows throughout the year. These undergraduate researchers—selected from a pool of applicants from various schools and programs within Northwestern—help historians with their projects, conducting research in digital and actual archives. This year several of them were able to travel to archives around the country. They present their research to their peers and Center associates in a series of three meetings. The program is increasingly popular, and this Spring an unprecedented 78 undergrads applied to work on 19 faculty projects in the summer and 2023-24.

More on all these activities can be seen on the CCHS website.

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