Cornell historians, undergraduates, and graduates research the World. Our expertise stretches across the globe and through the centuries, illuminating the present.
Professor Lawrence B. Glickman, Stephen and Evalyn Milman Professor of American Studies in the department of history, has a new book, Free Enterprise (Yale University Press), that is an incisive look at the intellectual and cultural history of free enterprise and its influence on American politics.
Throughout the twentieth century, “free enterprise” has been a contested keyword in American politics, and the cornerstone of a conservative philosophy that seeks to limit government involvement into economic matters. Lawrence B. Glickman shows how the idea first gained traction in American discourse and was championed by opponents of the New Deal. Those politicians, believing free enterprise to be a fundamental American value, held it up as an antidote to a liberalism that they maintained would lead toward totalitarian statism. Tracing the use of the concept of free enterprise, Glickman shows how it has both constrained and transformed political dialogue. He presents a fascinating look into the complex history, and marketing, of an idea that forms the linchpin of the contemporary opposition to government regulation, taxation, and programs such as Medicare.
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH
History & Science Research Synergize for Greater Understanding
The research of Kevin Bloomfield, a Ph.D. candidae in history, and colleagues, was recently honored with a publication in Climatic Change.
The paper, Beyond One-Way Determinism: San Frediano's Miracle and Climate Change in Central and Southern Italy in Late Antiquity, examines the cultural impacts of climate change in Italy during the first millennium by studying scientific data and historical records.
"This article stands at the intersection of climatology and history," Bloomfield said. To obtain data about past climates, researchers examined a stalagmite from Renella Cave in northern Tuscany, concluding that the 6th century in the north and central Italy was distinguished from others by excessive moisture. With information from The Cults of Saints in Antiquity Database, researchers compared writings from this time period in Italy against the entirety of late antiquity and early medieval texts.
Adam Izdebski, a member of the press relations office at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, will include details about the project in a forthcoming press release. In it, Giovanni Zanchetta, professor of geology from the University of Pisa, comments, "geochemists, geologists, and climate specialists proved a climactic change that written sources only hinted at. In the sixth century, at least part of Italy really did become a land of torrential rains and floods."
"In addition to climate change, late Roman Italy also experienced numerous 'barbarian' invasions – but these difficult experiences did not lead the society of the time to collapse," Bloomfield said. "On the contrary, it seems that climatic change actually contributed to strengthening its internal cohesion during a dramatic historical moment."
The Department of History commends Kevin Bloomfield and his colleagues on this collaborative paper, expanding knowledge and insight through the synergy of scientific and historical research.
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH
JOEL & ROSEMARY SILBEY FUND RECIPIENTS
Pictured left to right are three graduate students who received Silbey funds to pursue their research. They are Spencer Beswick, Jacob Walters, and Claire Cororaton. Each student shared with the Department of History the research they pursued with the award funds.
Spencer Beswick is a third-year PhD student studying the history of the US Left with a focus on anarchism in the late twentieth century. He used the Silbey grant to conduct formative preliminary dissertation research on the post-1960s resurgence of social anarchism at the Brooklyn Interference Archive in Spring 2019.
Jacob Walters researches early to mid-20th-century African-American thought and debates around African-American Marxism, working at the intersection of American intellectual history, radical social thought, and African-American cultural production. Through the Silbey Grant, he conducted research at the Fisk University W.E.B. Du Bois Archives in Nashville, Tennessee, which houses some of Du Bois' neglected late-period writings, much of which is unpublished. His particular focus is on Du Bois' conception of "political" and "scientific" experimentality and experimentalism and its links to both European Marxist thought and the American Pragmatist tradition.
Claire Cororaton’s research is on the relationship between citizenship, territoriality, and capitalist development in the Philippines from the late 19th to the early 20th century, particularly during the first decade of the American occupation. More specifically, she is interested in debates around "the Philippine Question" and how people made claims to the “state” given evolving conceptions of “citizenship”, “national economy”, “welfare”, and “sovereignty”. Her work is at the intersection of Philippine studies and global approaches to US history and empire. The Silbey grant will fund her research at the National Archives, Library of Congress, and the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.
Ezra's Archives is a publication put forth annually by the Cornell Historical Society. The Cornell Historical Society (CHS) is an undergraduate organization at Cornell University founded in 2010. CHS educates and fosters appreciation for historical topics and methodology with the undergraduate student population and the community at large. This journal, launched in the Spring of 2011, showcases stellar examples of undergraduate research in the field of history. In 2015, Ezra's Archives was published online and articles can be read on e-Commons.
I don’t know how else to approach a moment like this, with all its uncertainties. I’m very lucky to be in a position where I can be flexible and shift things around to make it work. Flexibility, and just general kindness, seem to be the only humane and workable philosophies for dealing with the current situation.
— Emily Donald, Summer 2020