Professor Tom Visser of our Historic Preservation program was recently interviewed on a podcast of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) of the National Parks Service about the HP program and about his recent book, Porches of North America.

Listen to the podcast or read a transcript here!


Three scholars from around the globe are coming to UVM to speak on medieval Europe!

This year a group of professors from the Departments of History, Religion, English, and Romance Languages, with the support of Dean William Falls and of Bailey-Howe Special Collections, inaugurated the “College of Arts and Sciences Medieval Studies Lecture Series.”  The 2016-2017 series got off to a great start with a lecture from our own Professor Emeritus Al Andrea in November, and now it continues with three high-profile lectures by world-famous medievalists coming to UVM from three continents.  For anyone interested in medieval history and culture—and particularly in medieval manuscripts–January and February will be extraordinarily rich at UVM!

First, on Thursday, January 19, at 5:00 PM in 338 Waterman Building, Memorial Lounge, we kick off the winter semester with Dr. Tracy Adams, who is coming all the way from the University of Auckland in New Zealand to give a public lecture on “The French Royal Mistress and the Politics of Representation”.  This promises to be really interesting!

Then, on Wednesday, February 8, at 6:00 pm in Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library, Dr. Ray Clemens, Curator of Early Books & Manuscripts at Yale University will speak on “The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript.” The title of his talk refers to the Voynich manuscript, an early 15th-century codex now at Yale, written in an unknown language that no one has yet been able to decipher. Colorful illustrations of unidentifiable plants, zodiac signs, astronomical and cosmological diagrams, and naked women in bathing pools add to the mystery.  Check out the manuscript online and then come to hear the talk!

Finally, on Monday, February 13, at 5:00 PM in 338 Waterman Building, Memorial Lounge Dr. Jacques Dalarun, member of the Institut de France, will give a public lecture on “The ‘Rediscovered Francis of Assisi’ in the Rediscovered Life by Thomas of Celano.” This is one of the biggest stories in medieval studies from the last few years—the startling discovery of a “new” life of St. Francis in a beat up thirteenth-century manuscript that surfaced in the hands of a dealer in Chicago.  Dr. Dalarun will fly in from Paris to talk about his electrifying discovery and what it means for our knowledge about Francis, one of the medieval world’s iconic figures!

Often guest speakers tend to come to Burlington in the early fall and late spring. . . medievalist are made of sterner stuff!  January and February will be lit up with these three presentations by world-famous scholars in the second half of our 2016-2017 College of Arts and Sciences Medieval Studies Lecture series!

Have questions? Contact Professor Sean Field sean.field@uvm.edu

Proud to see Jack Zelinga’s MA thesis work included in this article.



“Five Questions With…” is a regular feature on our blog that profiles a member of the UVM history department.

To request a profile of a particular history department professor or staff member, or to submit questions for consideration for particular professors, please email history@uvm.edu with the subject line “Five Questions.”

This month, we are chatting with the newest member of our department, Assistant Professor Mary Mendoza.  A native Texan, Professor Mendoza joined the UVM History Department in the fall of 2015. She received her B.A. from Middlebury College in 2006, an M.A. in U.S. History from American University in 2010, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 2012 and 2015.  Her work focuses on the intersections between environmental and borderlands history and she teaches courses on colonial and modern U.S. history, race in the American West, environmental history, Chicano history, and borderlands history.


What are you teaching this year?

This fall I am teaching a first-year TAP class about the environmental history of the U.S-Mexico border fence called “Unnatural Border” (the class is based on my book topic) and a general survey of the U.S. Southwest called “The Southwest Borderlands.” Next semester I will teach the intro to Critical Race and Ethnic Studies as well as a seminar called “History of Race in the U.S.”

What’s your favorite thing about teaching history?

My favorite thing about teaching is my students. I enjoy talking with them, hearing what they think, and how reading and discussing events in the past informs their understanding of the present. I especially love it when students realize that studying history is so much more than just memorizing dates, facts, and key actors. It is learning to read critically, recognize patterns in human behavior, write for a wide audience, among other things, all of which are skills that they can transfer to any job that they might have in the future.

What are you working on these days?

I am working on a couple of things, actually. My primary project is that I am writing a book on the environmental history of the U.S.-Mexico border tentatively titled, Unnatural Border: Race and Environment at the U.S.-Mexico Divide. The book explores the intersections between the natural and the built environments along the U.S.-Mexico border from a transnational perspective. Specifically, I explain the causes, development, and legacy of fence construction along the international boundary line. I argue that the construction of the border fence began in 1911 as a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative to stop the movement of a cattle tick—a non-human natural threat—and, by 1945, grew into a multi-pronged effort to control the dynamic flow of human migration. As the United States and Mexican governments passed laws, built fences, and hired agents to police the boundary between the two nations, the border became an expression of human imagination rather than a geographical certainty. At every turn, environmental realities undermined state action. And while state-sanctioned efforts to control movement largely failed, the symbolic power of the border increased, creating and solidifying a highly contested and racialized landscape of power, difference, and exclusion by the end of the twentieth century.

The other project I am working on is an edited collection tentatively titled, Not Just Green, Not Just White: Race, Justice, and Environmental History. That book brings together a number of environmental historians that analyze the relationships between environment, race, and justice through a historical lens, exploring how environmental injustices are produced in different historical contexts in ways that profoundly shaped, and still shape, the experiences of communities of color in the US. More broadly, the included essays ask how power relations have been articulated through resources and resource exploitation; how the environment has been a literal and figurative terrain of struggle over rights, inclusion, or differentiation; or how nature has come to signify and symbolize race in ways that produce unequal or unjust power relations. Ultimately, the collection seeks to underscore the reality, long apparent to communities of color but too rarely articulated in scholarship on environmental history, that racial injustice and environmental degradation (and sometimes preservation) are co-constituted.

What’s the best historical book you’ve read recently?

This is a tough question. I have read a lot of good books lately, so I think I will just go with my two favorite books from the past couple of years. One book that I really loved and love to teach is Ari Kelman’s most recent monograph, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek, which won several prizes. The book covers the history of a bloody massacre of indigenous communities in Colorado at the hands of U.S. soldiers. Kelman opens with a 2007 scene in which the National Park Service is working to memorialize the massacre, but in doing so, they realize that the site of the massacre is uncertain because various actors have remembered it differently. From there, he goes back in time a traces the history of the massacre, but he does so using three different perspectives of the event, ultimately making the argument that perspective matters and dramatically shapes how we remember and learns about the past. And then, moving to a larger scale, he argues that the massacre which happen in the midst of the Civil War, shows that the Civil War was not just a war of liberation (because it ended slavery), but a war of empire.

The other book is Lori Flores’s new and fabulous book Grounds for Dreaming: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement. Her book is a much needed contribution to the fields of Latino Studies, Borderlands, and Mexican-American history. She writes about migrant workers fighting for equality in grueling working conditions in the Salinas Valley in California before Cesar Chávez’s farmworker movement. One of the things I appreciate most about it is that she is careful to differentiate between Mexican guest-workers known as “braceros,” Mexican Immigrants, and Mexican Americans, which few studies on Mexican American history actually do well. It’s extremely well-written and very informative. It’s a book I have wanted someone to write for a long time, and Flores not only wrote it, but she nailed it. 

What are you up to when you’re not on campus?

 When I am not on campus, I spend time with my family, my wonderful dogs, and my friends. I especially enjoy taking the dogs for walks and swimming in ponds. I spend a lot of time kayaking and hiking when I’m not writing,  and I travel quite a bit both for work and for pleasure.





We are pleased to announce two upcoming talks on campus by historians, sponsored by our department.  Please join us!



History majors, please join us tomorrow for a history department social hour.  Come for snacks, to chat with your professors, and to get a sneak preview of next semester’s history course listings.

Tuesday October 4, 4-5 PM, Billings Library Apse


Book announcement

The history department is pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Professor Patrick Hutton (Emeritus).


Patrick H. Hutton. The Memory Phenomenon in Contemporary Historical Writing.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

From the publisher:

“In this book, the author provides a comprehensive overview of the intense and sustained work on the relationship between collective memory and history, retracing the royal roads pioneering scholars have traveled in their research and writing on this topic: notably, the politics of commemoration (purposes and practices of public remembrance); the changing uses of memory worked by new technologies of communication (from the threshold of literacy to the digital age); the immobilizing effects of trauma upon memory (with particular attention to the remembered legacy of the Holocaust). He follows with an analysis of the implications of this scholarship for our thinking about history itself, with attention to such issues as the mnemonics of historical time, and the encounter between representation and experience in historical understanding. His book provides insight into the way interest in the concept of memory – as opposed to long-standing alternatives, such as myth, tradition, and heritage – has opened new vistas for scholarship not only in cultural history but also in shared ventures in memory studies in related fields in the humanities and social sciences.”

Here is a listing of history related talks coming up on campus this semester!  Keep an eye out here for further event updates and reminders.
“Reading Thoreau in the 21st Century”

The College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture, to be given by Bob Pepperman Taylor, Professor, UVM Department of Political Science

Thursday, October 6, 4:00 pm, Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building


“The Crusades in the Context of World History”

Lecture by Alfred J. Andrea, Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at UVM and past president of the World History Association

Tuesday, October 18, 5:00 PM, Waterman Building, Memorial Lounge

Professor Andrea’s lecture is sponsored by the Department of History, and kicks off the 2016-2017 UVM College of Arts and Sciences Medieval Studies Lecture Series.


“The Voyage of the St. Louis and American ‘Refugee’ Policy”

Lecture by Professor Paul Vincent, Keene State College

Wednesday, October 26, 7:00 PM, Old Mill, John Dewey Lounge (room 325)


“Uncle Sam Wants You: Vermont, the First World War, and the Making of Modern America”

Lecture by Professor Chris Capozzola, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thursday, October 27, 6 PM at UVM Library Special Collections


“Out of the Limelight or In: Raul Hilberg and the Future of Holocaust Studies”

Lecture by Professor Doris Bergen, University of Toronto

Friday, November 4 2016, 7:00 PM, Waterman Building, Memorial Lounge (room 338)


For more information on any of these events, please contact Professor Harvey Amani Whitfield (hwhitfie@uvm.edu).

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Skip to toolbar