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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Current Ph.D. Students

This page is intended to give a sense of the range and focus of graduate student research in our department. Current dissertation titles for Ph.D. students are provisional. You may write to current students via email or care of the Department of History, Herter Hall, University of Massachusetts, 161 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA 01003-9312.

Dan Allosso (ABD)

Fields: Rural American History, Global Environmental History
Advisor: Heather Cox Richardson, David Glassberg, Ted Melillo (Amherst College), Christopher Clark (Univ. of Connecticut)
Education: B.S. Agricultural & Resource Economics (UMass), M.A. History (Minnesota State University) Interests: Rural history; the history of regular people; radicals and freethinkers
Ambitions: To publish best-selling popular histories
Web site:

Mohammed Ataie

Fields: Modern Middle East History, History of Iran and Arab relations, History of Persian relations with the Levant.
Advisors: Mary C. Wilson
Education: B.A., Journalism, Tehran University; Masters in Sociology, Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran; Masters in Middle Eastern Studies, the American University of Beirut.
Interests: Modern Middle Eastern History, in particular the History of Iranian relations with the Levant.
For my Ph.D. research, I would like to investigate the formation of the Syrian-Iranian alliance in the 1980s and its regional ramifications from the angle of factionalism in Iran. The turbulent 1980s was not only the period of fierce power struggle inside the Islamic Republic, it also marked the most difficult and complicated stage of the newly created Syrian-Iranian axis. An in-depth analysis of this seminal period, based on primary sources, is important to understanding the post-1980s phase of the Iranian-Syrian partnership and cooperation over Lebanon and Palestine. I have conducted extensive research and interviews on the subject in Arabic, Persian and English. My recent article, "Revolutionary Iran's 1979 Endeavor in Lebanon", published in the Middle East Policy Journal’s 2013 summer issue, was based on this research.



Christopher Benning (ABD)

Fields: Modern U.S. Cultural History, Public History, World/Global History
Advisors: David Glassberg, Marla Miller, Elizabeth Chilton, Kevin Sweeney
Education: B.A., Amherst College, M.A., Johns Hopkins University SAIS
Interests: Museology, public history, material culture and landscape
Ambitions: Teaching, research and writing history, and museum work.


Amy Breimaier (ABD)

Fields: Atlantic World, Public History, Book History

Advisor: Barry Levy

Education: B.A., SUNY Geneseo (2010), M.A., University of Houston (2012)

Interests: Colonial & Early America; Early Modern England; history of childhood and youth; history of the family; material culture. My research examines the relationship between families and the intellectual, cultural, and economic marketplace of the 18th century English Atlantic through the creation, distribution, and reception of children’s literature, particularly in New England.



Adeline Broussan

Fields: US History, Vietnam War

Advisor: Christian Appy

Education: B.A. and M.A. history at the University Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (France)

Interests: Vietnam War, French Colonization in South-East Asia, Contemporary and Oral History. My research focuses on the involvement of American and Vietnamese women in the Vietnam War.



Justin Burch

Dan Chard

Fields: History of U.S. Diplomacy, Cold War
Education: B.A., M.A. University of Central Oklahoma

Interests: Justin’s proposed dissertation research examines the relationship between America and Great Britain during the 1950s, in relation to Cold War crisis events, to better understand how and why the history of this period unfolded the way it did. Justin will explore the Anglo-American relationship within a multi-national construct spanning Atlantic, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern studies across the middle part of the twentieth century.



Joie Campbell

Fields: 19th and 20th century U.S., Women’s, and African American history, and the intersections of race, gender, and class

Advisor: Barbara Krauthamer

Education: B.A. History, Anthropology minor, Texas State University (2009); M.A. History, Texas State University (2013)

Interests: African American clubwomen and their social and political activism comprise the general focus of my research. The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the contributions of its members from 1895 to the 1920s established the basis of my master’s thesis, which explored the formative years of the NACW and their efforts toward acquiring prison reforms and abolishing the convict lease system. I intend to extend this work with a focus on African American women’s transnational endeavors, including attempts to establish global ties to other women of color, to place U.S. race relations into an international, comparative context, and to develop a diasporic identity. I am especially interested in the evolution of black women’s activism during the interwar years and how they negotiated space and strategized their labors during the Depression, New Deal, and World War II.



Daniel Chard (ABD)

Dan Chard

Fields: 20th Century U.S., World History, 19th Century U.S.
Faculty: Chris Appy, Jennifer Fronc, Jennifer Guglielmo, John Higginson
Education: B.A. History, University of Southern Maine (2008); M.A. History, UMass Amherst (2010)
Interests:  My dissertation examines the U.S. war with domestic leftist guerrillas during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and how revolutionary violence influenced the FBI and its policing of the U.S. Left.  My areas of scholarly interest include: political violence and terrorism, radical social movements, policing and prisons, comparative empires, and Native American history.



Brian Comfort (ABD)

Fields: 19th and 20th Century U.S. cultural history
Faculty: Chris Appy
Education: B.A. Connecticut College; M.A. in journalism University of Colorado; M.A. in American studies University of Massachusetts Boston
Interests: I am particularly interested in post-World War II popular culture and how ideas of race, class and gender intersect in cultural production and reception.



Julie de Chantal (ABD)

Fields: 20th Century US with a focus on race, Women's history in the US, Mexico/Latin America
Advisors: Laura L. Lovett, David Glassberg, John Higginson, Manisha Sinha
Education: BA (2005), MA History, Université de Montréal
Interests: Relationships between race, gender and nation building; development of popular culture in the Northern urban areas; marginality; feminist theory


Erica Fagen (ABD)

Fields: Modern Germany, Public History, South Africa
Faculty: Jon Olsen, Andrew Donson, John Higginson, James Young, (English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies), Jennifer Evans (Carleton University, Ottawa)
Education: BA Honours in History, Concordia University (Montreal); MA in Public History, Carleton University (Ottawa)
Interests: Modern Germany, Public History, memory, social media, visual culture. My research looks at how people discuss the history of the Holocaust through popular culture, with an emphasis on memory practices on Web 2.0. I look at how young people decide to convey their experiences visiting Holocaust memorials and former Nazi concentration camps and how this changed over the past thirty-five years with the introduction of new technologies, which includes social media applications like Facebook and Instagram. Outside of academia, I enjoy traveling, visiting museums, expanding my tea collection, and watching hockey.


Twitter: @erfagen


Jenna Febrizio

Education: B.A. in History & Art History, SUNY Geneseo (2012), M.A. in Art History, Binghamton University (2014)
Interests: 20th Century Germany; banned and looted artwork; memory; collectors, art dealers, and exhibition; restitution




Christopher Fobare (ABD)

Fields: The Civil War & Reconstruction, The Early Republic, Modern China
Advisors: Heather Cox Richardson, Jennifer Fronc, Barbara Krauthamer, Michael Hannahan (Political Science)
Education: B.A., Utica College (2006), M.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2008).
Interests: The political history of Reconstruction.  My dissertation examines the factors that led to the recreation of a national system of party politics following the Civil War.  Primarily, it focuses on the construction, evolution, and solidification of the Third American Party System amid the background of American expansion and industrialization during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Ambitions: Earn a PhD, teach at the college level, and contribute to the political historiography of the late nineteenth century.

Kate Freedman (ABD)

Fields: Early American history, Anglo-Atlantic history, American and European Women's History
Advisors: Barry Levy, Barbara Krauthamer, Manisha Sinha, and Robert Cox.
Education: B.A., History, Hampshire College (2004), MLIS, University of Rhode Island (2007), M.A. University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2009)

Interests: Antislavery; religion, race, revolution, and movements for social change in the Early Modern Atlantic world; In my research, I seek to illuminate how tensions between morality and economics shaped the Quakers' relationship to slavery in the Anglo-Atlantic world. In addition to being a PhD student in History, I am the Undergraduate Education Librarian at UMass, where I teach undergraduate courses on research skills and work with various stakeholders to improve the teaching of research skills (information literacy) at UMass. 
Ambitions: To finish my dissertation and publish it as a book that appeals both to scholarly and non-scholarly audiences.  


Gary Garrison (ABD)

Fields: U.S. Constitutional & Intellectual History as well as Early Modern and Enlightenment Political Theory
Advisors: Daniel Gordon, Joyce Berkman and Barbara Krauthamer
Education: B.A., Economics, The Ohio State University (1984), J.D., Capital University Law School (1987), LL.M., Capital University Law School (1991), M.A., History, Miami University (2005)
Interests: My research interests focus on historical relationships between the state and those over whom the state exercises sovereignty.  I am particularly interested in how minority rights, the marginalized and individual liberties have been (or, more appropriately, not been) protected from the evils of “excess democracy” and the power of an overweening res publica.  To take a movie line from several years ago: “People should not fear their governments, governments should fear their people.”
Ambitions: Write and teach (law school and/or university level)


Cheryl Harned

Fields: Colonial U.S. Cultural/Intellectual History, Modern U.S. Cultural/Intellectual History, Early Modern History of Science
Advisors: Marla Miller, David Glassberg, Brian Ogilivie
Education: B.A., University of Delaware; M.A., UMass Amherst
Interests: Material, visual, and popular culture; cultural production and reception; the role of creativity in education; museology and antiquarianism; history of the book and history of science; collectors, collecting, and collecting networks.


Carl Herzog

Fields: Early American History, Environmental History, Caribbean History
Advisors: Barry Levy, Julio Capo, David Glassberg
Education: B.S. Journalism, University of Florida; M.A. History, University of Rhode Island
Interests: Maritime history, coastal development, history of navigation. My current research looks at the infrastructure and operational aspects of maritime smuggling in the Caribbean and North America during the 18th century.


John Higgins(ABD)

Amanda Goodheart
Fields: Early Medieval Ireland; Byzantium; Literacy and Orality
Faculty: Anna Taylor
Education: B.A. Classics, Fordham University; M.Litt. Classics, Trinity College, Dublin.
M.Litt. Thesis: A Commentary on Suetonius? Life of Nero
Interests: I began as a Roman historian and keep a strong interest in ancient history. My current research concerns the early medieval period in Ireland and surrounding countries, with a particular focus on Seventh Century monastic literary culture.


Felicia Jamison

Fields: 19th and 20th Century U.S. History, Race and Gender
Education: B.A. Spanish, Mercer University; M.A. Africana Studies, Morgan State University

Interests: My research focuses on the constantly evolving roles of race, religion, and gender in 19th and 20th century United States. 


Kathryn Julian (ABD)

Fields: Modern Europe, People's Republic of China, Early Modern Europe
Faculty: Jon Olsen, Andy Donson, Sigrid Schmalzer, Jennifer Heuer, Jonathan Skolnik
Education: B.A. History, German minor, Birmingham-Southern College (2007); M.A. Modern European History, University of Tennessee (2010)
Interests: My dissertation centers on the role of religious orders under socialism, in particular Catholic orders int eh post-war period in East Germany. I explore how these organizations carved out a unique place in society, negotiated with the state, and existed under the constraints of an authoritarian government. I also focus on notions of sacred space and pilgrimage in socialist societies, including Hungarya nd China. Other interests include running, cats, coffee, youth fiction, comics, and cooking.


Melanie Kourbage (ABD)

Fields: Medieval Religion; Social History of the Middle Ages; Gender
Advisors: Anna Taylor, Brian Ogilvie and Anne Broadbridge
Education: B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A., Fordham University
Interests: My research focuses on medieval religion, specifically the concept of miracle in hagiography, liturgy and historiography in eleventh-century France. Other interests include gender and social history of the later middle ages, and the medieval Middle East.

Jeffrey D. Kovach (ABD)

Fields: Early American religion, specifically focusing on Quaker communities in New England
Advisors: Barry Levy and Joyce Berkman
Education: B.A., History, Franklin & Marshall College, (1997), M.A., History, William Paterson University (2003)
Ambitions: I hope to continue research in Quaker communities, specifically Nantucket in early 18th century.


Sarah Lavallee

Fields: modern German history, specifically memory and war memorials.
Faculty: Jon Olsen
Interests: I'm interested in how Germans remember World War II, how they represent themselves and their soldiers in memorials, and how the design and interpretation of memorials has shifted from the 1940s to the present. I hope to expand my research to examine differences between local and national memorial cultures.


Destiney Linker

Fields: 20th Century US History, African American History, Latin American History
Education: B.A., History and English, Salem College; M.A., History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Graduate Certificate, Africana Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Interests: Civil Rights and Black Power, Harlem Renaissance, African Diaspora, 20th century radicalism, global Cold War, oral history.



Amanda Goodheart Parks (ABD)

Fields: Women and Gender, Nineteenth-Century U.S., Global & Environmental, Public History
Faculty: Joyce Berkman (Chair), Marla Miller, Barry Levy, and Manisha Sinha
Education: B.A.S. in American History and Secondary Education, Salve Regina University (2008); M.A. in Public History, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2010)
Interests: As a public historian employed full-time in the museum field, I bridge the divide between academia, museums, and the K-12 educational community. My dissertation represents my decade-long fascination with gender and maritime history, focusing on the lives of antebellum New England whaling captains' wives and their experiences at sea aboard whaleships as I examine the whaling industry's unique conceptions of gender within the context of the social, cultural, and political changes of the mid-nineteenth century. Outside of graduate school, I enjoy traveling with my husband, historical fiction, long walks on the beach, and entertaining friends at our home in Westfield.
Ambitions: Continue my work as a public historian, write popular history, see the world, and most importantly, enjoy life to the fullest!


Sandra Perot (ABD)

Name:  Sandra Perot (ABD)
Fields: Early American History, Public History, Victorian Women's History
Faculty: Marla Miller, David Glassberg, Joyce Berkman
Education: MA History, UMass Amherst; MA English, San Jose State University; AB English Princeton University
Interests: Revolutionary-Era Transatlantic Anglophone Women's Theatre, Cultural history of Early American Women, Women and Literature in the Anglophone World, Transnational Museum Narratives,Oral Traditions and Memory,17th-Century Interracial Relations

John (J.D.) Roberts (ABD)

Fields: Modern Latin America, Global History, Colonial Latin America, Illicit Drug History, Colonial America, Global Environmental History, Modern West African History, Organized Crime History, Agricultural History.
Faculty: Jose Angel Hernandez, Joel Wolfe, David Glassberg, Barry Levy, John Higginson
Education: B.A., Anthropology, SUNY-Albany; M.A., History, UMass-Amherst
Interests: I am particularly interested in the global networks drug trafficking and global crime syndicates create linking producers and consumers from around the world. I am also dedicated to utilizing hard sciences in my historical research, particularly biology, geology, chemistry, and climatology. In my spare time, I am an avid record collector, and I like to travel and hike.

Ann Robinson (ABD)

Fields:  History of Science, 19th & 20th century U.S. History, World History
Faculty:  John Servos (Amherst College), Larry Owens, Sigrid Schmalzer, Jeff Ramsey (Philosophy, Smith College)
Education:  BA, History, UC San Diego (1993); MLIS, San Jose State University
(1995); ALM, History of Science, Harvard University (2007)
Interests:  My dissertation explores the creation of a standard periodic table of the elements.  I'm broadly interested in classification, organization, and nomenclature, as well as visual representation and scientific organizations. I was an academic reference librarian for 14 years; I'm a life-long Baltimore Orioles fan and I like rugby (watching, not playing!).


Mark Roblee (ABD)

Fields: Late Antiquity, Ancient Religions, Memory and Identity
Faculty: Carlin Barton, Richard Lim, Jason Moralee, Anna Taylor
Education: B.A., Wesleyan University (1987); M.A. Spirituality and Psychology, Holy Names College (1991); M.A. History, UMass Amherst (2012).
Interests: Roman Egypt, Neoplatonism, Hermetism, Esotericism. I am interested in the thoughts and emotions--the mentalities--even more, the imaginations--of late antique writers, readers, and thinkers for whom self-deification was seen as an option on their horizons. What did it mean to "become a god"? What are the underlying assumptions about selves and the divine that allow for the possibility of self-deification?


Karen Sause

Dan Chard

Fields: Native American, Colonial America, Atlantic World

Advisors: Joel Martin, Kevin Sweeney

Education:  B.A., History, Gettysburg College (2005); M.A., History, (Concentration: Atlantic World; Secondary fields: Colonial America and Early Modern Europe), Villanova University (2009)

Academic Interests: I am continually fascinated by the complex process of exchange, interplay, and negotiation between the Native American, European, and American peoples. Focusing on Native American history also allows me to meld my side interests in environmental history, medicine, and very occasionally with much creativity, the Protestant Reformation. I am looking forward to continuing my past work with captivity narratives, and examining Native Americans who self-selected to leave their homes and travel abroad. I will also be pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Native American Studies.

Interests External to Academia: Volunteer EMT-B, piano, cross-stitching, painting, gardening, hiking, camping, and biking. Catching up on classic literature and devouring young adult fiction. I am alternatively terrorized and snuggled by my cat, George "Catlin."   

Ambitions: To be a professor at a small liberal arts college. I hope to meld my Residence Life background with academia and teach a First Year Seminar within a residence hall.



Gina Talley (ABD)

Fields: U.S. Women and Gender History, 20th Century U.S. History, Sex and Society in Modern Europe
Faculty: Jennifer Fronc, Barbara Krauthamer, Daniel LaChance
M.A. Thesis: "Connections Between the Mainline Eugenics Movement and African-American Communities, 1910-1940"
Interests: Broadly, my research interests include social and cultural issues related to women, gender, race, and sexuality in the U.S. from the Reconstruction Era to the present. My dissertation explores childlessness by choice in the early 20th century U.S.


Amanda Tewes (ABD)

Fields: Modern U.S. Culture, Public History, 19th- and 20th-Century Borderlands
Advisors: David Glassberg, Marla Miller, Richard A. Lopez (Amherst)
Education: B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara (2007); M.A. California State University, Fullerton (2010)
Interests: Material, visual, and popular culture; public history and memory; the American West; oral history; museums and archives; as well as theme parks and tourism. My research looks at how Old West tourism in California reflects and even shapes history and identity in the state.


Jen Turner (ABD)

Fields: Colonial U.S., poverty studies
Advisors: Barry Levy, Marla Miller
Thesis Title: "The Best Poor Man’s Country and the City Upon the Hill: Pennsylvania and Masssachusetts’ Reponses to the Poor"
Education: B.A., Bates College (1999), M.A., University of Connecticut (2001).
Interests: Knitting, Cooking, Labor Unions, 1950’s girls’ Literature.
Ambitions: Finish my PhD, help other grad students unionize, teach college.


Miriam Wells (ABD)

Fields: Public history, 19th and 20th Century US
Education: AB, History, University of Chicago (2001); MS, Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009); M.A., History, UMass Amherst (2011).
Interests: Generally, the way that written histories or museum exhibits use oral histories, material culture, ethnography, and the built environment to tell stories.  Specifically, New Deal arts programs, public art and building, labor and trades, nursing, Progressive Era social programs and immigration.
Web site: