Students & Student Interests
Christopher Allison studies the intersection of race, religion, and reform in the early 19th century, especially the development of the early abolitionist movement. He received his B.S. in Social Sciences Education from Olivet Nazarene University in 2006, and his M.A.R. studying American religious history from Yale Divinity School in 2010. His master’s thesis dealt with the transitional black abolitionist minister, and senior editor of the first African American newspaper in the United States, Samuel Cornish.
John Frederick Bell received a B.A. in Religious Studies and History from the College of William and Mary in 2007. He studies the history and literature of the nineteenth-century United States, in particular the relationship between religion and popular culture. Intermittently he pursues side interests in Bob Dylan and twentieth-century music subcultures. Before beginning graduate study, he worked as an analyst at the National Archives and as a high school social studies teacher with Teach For America.
Steven Brown studies representations of utopia in America, especially the evolution of those representations from the religious communal boom of the nineteenth century to today's ecologically-minded intentional communities. His work looks at utopian literature, history, and photography. Brown earned his MA in literature and MFA in poetry from McNeese (2008). He recently collaborated with photographer Jerry Uelsmann on a book of his poems and Uelsmann's photographs titled Moth and Bonelight, published by 21st Editions [www.21stphotography.com] (2010).
Carla Cevasco received her B.A. in English and American Literatures from Middlebury College in 2011. She specializes in early American agricultural history, with a focus on New England. Her other interests include food studies, environmental history, material culture, and the industrialization of American agriculture in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Holger Droessler received his M.A. in American Cultural History from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich in 2008. In his master thesis he explored the transatlantic debates about the Afro-German occupation children after the Second World War. His research interests center on the history of the long and global nineteenth century, especially U.S. and European imperialism. Currently he is working on an entangled history of imperialism, racism, and capitalism in the Euro-American Pacific at the turn of the twentieth century.
Katharine Gerbner studies the religious dimensions of race, authority and freedom in the early modern Atlantic world. Her dissertation, “Christian Slavery: Protestant Missions and Slavery Conversion in the Atlantic World, 1660-1760,” asks why enslaved and free Africans participated in Christian rituals in the Protestant Caribbean. She argues that their conversion conditioned the emergence of whiteness, transformed the practice of religion and redefined the idea of freedom in both Europe and the Americas. Before coming to Harvard, Katharine received her B.A. in Religion from Columbia University and lived in Germany on a Fulbright grant.
Brian K. Goodman studies the history of twentieth-century American literature, thought, and culture in comparative perspective. He first experimented with transnational approaches to American studies as an undergraduate at Stanford, where he wrote his thesis on the influence of Beat literature on Czech dissident culture. His master’s thesis at Oxford focused on Philip Roth and counterfactual history, reflecting an ongoing interest in the links between literary form and political history. His current research attempts to map the literary and cultural relationship between the U.S. and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War in order to discover what happens when artists and their work move between supposedly free and unfree political spaces.
Aaron Hatley received a B.A. in Music and the Integrated Program in Humane Studies from Kenyon College in 2008. His current research focuses on radio, popular music, and automobile travel in the 1930s and '40s, in an effort to understand the concurrent expansion of mass media and changing patterns of mobility and popular culture in the prewar period. His teaching interests include various facets of music, literature, and the arts in the context of American cultural history.
Jack Hamilton received his B.A. in English from New York University in 2003. His research interests include American music, race, media, and cultural history, and he is currently finishing his dissertation, "Rubber Souls: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination," about race and popular music in the 1960s. He is a working musician and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and other publications.
Anna Lvovsky received her B.A. in literature and intellectual history from Yale University in 2007. Her research interests include Cold War American culture, the history of homosexuality, state and military regulation, expertise, science and technology studies, and the sociology of knowledge. Her dissertation will focus on the history of law enforcement against homosexuality in the twentieth-century United States, relating especially to shifting perceptions of gay visibility. Currently, she is cross-enrolled as a JD candidate at Harvard Law School.
Theresa McCulla received an A.B. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard College in 2004 and a Culinary Arts Diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 2010. >From 2004 to 2007, she worked as a European media analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. From 2007 to 2010, she managed the Food Literacy Project for Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services. There, she educated the Harvard community about nutrition, food preparation, and agricultural sustainability with on-campus farmers’ markets and cooking classes. Theresa’s research interests include food, ethnicity, gender, language, and cultural representations of the immigrant experience.
Charles Petersen received a B.A. in English literature from Carleton College in 2005. Before coming to Harvard he worked as a journalist and cultural critic, writing for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Nation, and the New York Review of Books. He has been an editor at n+1 magazine since 2007. As a graduate student, he plans to study the cultural and intellectual history of the American West, particularly the effects of environmental change and capitalist development on artists, intellectuals, and the culture at large.
Sandy Placido works at the intersections of History, Literature, and Performance Studies in order to study migration (to, from, within, and around the United States, and ranging from forced to voluntary); U.S. history that focuses on diversity and simultaneity, and which is situated globally; the transnational history, politics, and effects of mass incarceration; colonial, imperial, and liberation processes; and social/political/cultural movements, with a focus on the labor and intellectual history of radical women, migrants, and popular culture producers of the Caribbean, (Latin) American, and African diasporas. Sandy was born in the Bronx to parents born in the Dominican Republic. She received her BA, with honors, in American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, from Yale in 2008. Sandy was an immigrant rights organizer in Washington Heights, NYC, before she enrolled at Harvard.
Summer Shafer earned her B.A. in American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (2008). Her interests include 19th- and 20th-century U.S. History with an emphasis on environmental history and American Political Development. Her current research centers on the political and economic aftermath of environmental catastrophe.
Jacob Spencer. American literature of the antebellum period. Historiography. Romanticism. The “long” Eighteenth Century as a transatlantic phenomenon. Intellectual history. Critical theory. Philology. My dissertation is on American biography, its development during the early-national and antebellum US.
Stephen Vider received a B.A. in English and Psychology from Yale University in 2003. From 2004 to 2007, he worked for Nextbook.org, an online magazine about Jewish literature and culture (their archive can now be found at Tabletmag.com). ). He is currently working on a dissertation about the cultural history of gay domesticity from 1880 to 1980. His article on social identity and crowd violence can be found in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. His writing has also appeared in the Village Voice and Newsday. He blogs at the Lazy Scholar (http://lazyscholar.wordpress.com), a guide to digital archives for students and teachers of American history and culture.
D. Clinton Williams received a B.A. from Oberlin College (2003) and an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School (2005). He is currently exploring the intersection of religion, history and African American Studies, to locate the role religion played in American and African American social cultural movements in 20th-century America.