LECTURE: Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Profess or History and Professor of African-American Studies, Harvard University
Tacky's Revolt and the Coromantee Archipelago A New Cartography of Slave Revolt"
Thursday, January 30th, 4.15 PM, L01 Carson Hall
During the 2005-06 academic year, Dartmouth’s History Department had the honor of hosting Robert Bonner as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Joshua Guild as the Chavez/Eastman/Marshall Dissertation Fellow.
Visiting Assistant Professor Robert Bonner joined the History Department during winter and spring terms and taught classes on the American Civil War and Black America since the Civil War, the introductory course on the United States since 1865, and a first-year seminar on popular patriotism and war.
Unlike visiting faculty unfamiliar with Dartmouth, Professor Bonner lives in Hanover and had become acquainted with the History Department through his wife, Professor Leslie Butler. They have three sons, Will (age 7), Matt (age 4), and Cameron (age 1). Though he often worked in the Baker-Berry Library for his research, Professor Bonner admits that it’s much nicer having an office in the department and getting to spend more time there.
Along with his two course-per-term teaching load, Professor Bonner also worked on two books that he hopes to complete by the end of the summer. One is The Soldier's Pen: Firsthand Impressions of the American Civil War (Hill and Wang), a project about Civil War diaries and letters, for which he was able to draw upon the resources of the Rauner Special Collections Library.
The other book he is working on is titled Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood (Cambridge University Press), which, according to Professor Bonner, deals with the broader topic of “taking the past on its own terms and resisting the distorting effects of hindsight,” which ”has been a major part of my re-evaluation of Southern slaveholders.”
Professor Bonner received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1989, majoring in American Studies. Though he grew up in Tennessee, his interest in Southern history “developed after I left home for college. William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, C. Vann Woodward, Toni Morrison, and others helped me to appreciate how this region has been haunted by history; fiction did as much as history to focus my imagination on how the Southern past relates to the Southern present.”
After receiving his B.A., Professor Bonner decided to take a couple of years off from academics to work at the Admissions Office at Princeton, something he very much enjoyed: “it was a nice experience, not being a student for a while.”
Subsequently, Professor Bonner received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1996. His dissertation was a study of proslavery politics and culture, for which he conducted research in New Haven, at the Huntington Library in California, as well as in several Southern states. Though his permanent position is at Michigan State University, Professor Bonner has taught Civil War History and African-American History at the University of Southern Maine and at Amherst College.
He has already published a book called Colors and Blood: Flag Passions of the Confederate South (Princeton University Press), which is about Confederate flag culture and, by extension, popular Confederate patriotism. Most recently, Professor Bonner received the 2005 John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article on Civil War History for “Slavery, Confederate Diplomacy, and the Racialist Mission of Henry Hotze,” which examines transatlantic nineteenth-century scientific racism. For the next academic year, Professor Bonner has been awarded an NEH fellowship to conduct research on the Fugitive Slave Law at the American Antiquarian Society in Worchester, Massachusetts.
Josh Guild hails from Brookline, Massachusetts, and has lived in New Haven, Connecticut, for the last six years, working toward his doctorate in African-American Studies at Yale University. Josh’s main fields of research interest are Twentieth-Century African-American History, general Twentieth-Century History, Urban History, and the African Diaspora.
After graduating from Wesleyan University and before enrolling at Yale, Josh worked at a newly established charter school in Boston for two years. At the charter school, he taught students in the fifth and sixth grades just about every subject—Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, and Science. Josh said, “It was probably the hardest thing I’ll ever do because I was a teacher at a brand-new school, so I had to develop the curriculum as I went along. One of my colleagues characterized it perfectly as ‘building a plane while you’re flying it.’”
However, according to Josh, he did gain one important lesson from this experience: “It gave me perspective on hard work. Whenever I get discouraged about writing my dissertation, it’s something to remind me that working on the dissertation isn’t so bad.”
Beginning in Fall 2005, Josh was at Dartmouth working on his doctoral dissertation, entitled “You Can’t Go Home Again: Migration, Citizenship, and Black Community in New York and London, World War II-1980.” He hopes to complete the dissertation this coming fall.
“My dissertation examines black migration and the politics of community change in the neighborhoods of central Brooklyn and west London during the long postwar period,” said Josh. His wide range of sources include oral interviews with migrants, which he used to argue that the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the urban North was part of a broader reshaping of the African Diaspora that also included the massive movements of peoples from the Anglophone Caribbean to both the United States and Great Britain after World War II. “The project ultimately situates these patterns of black migration within the context of realignments of race, citizenship, and national identity in the second half of the twentieth century."
When asked how much he liked working at Dartmouth, Josh exclaimed, “I love it!” He credits the supportive colleagues and the new friends he made in the History Department for the enjoyable time he had at Dartmouth. He also noted, “I want to give a special shout-out to Leo Spitzer for letting me use his office.”
This fall Josh will be heading to Princeton University to take up a position in the African-American Studies division of the History Department. And, in the long term, he sees himself publishing a book based on his dissertation and going on to work on community history and popular history projects, particularly in Brooklyn.
But, in the meantime, at least through the summer, Josh will be in Hanover “working on my dissertation and watching the Red Sox.”
Last Updated: 10/15/08