Department of History

The Dangerous Perhaps: The Reception of Derrida and Politics of Différance in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1967 to the Present

With the generous support of the Division of the Social Science’s Research Travel Grant, I was able to travel to Berlin in the summer of 2015 and make use of the vast holdings of the city’s Staatsbibliothek (state library) to complete my dissertation proposal and gather material for several chapters.   

De-stereotyping Taiwan

A Japanese agricultural official in the 1930s quipped, “What can be done with incentives in Taiwan has to be done with coercion in Korea.” This offhand remark appears to contain a grain of truth in retrospect. Not only do we know that Koreans were definitely more recalcitrant during colonial rule, but we also observe a greater degree of colonial nostalgia in Taiwan into the present. Is this difference the result of “national character?” In contemporary academic discourse, any such stereotypical designation would be immediately criticized for being an “essentialist” approach.

Field Notes on Alchemy: Investigating Its Influence on Agriculture, Husbandry, and the Life Sciences

In my dissertation I am researching the influence that the alchemical concept of “immanent vitalism” had on various fields not traditionally associated with alchemy: husbandry, agricultural improvement projects, horticulture, botany, and the incipient “life sciences,” such as they were, in mid-to-late seventeenth-century England and its colonial sphere.

Documenting the Existence of a Community of Letters in Late Medieval Spain and North Africa

Thanks to the generous support provided by the Division of Social Sciences Travel Grant, I have been able to spend much of the last year (July 2015 to May 2016) undertaking intensive research for my dissertation in Spain and Morocco. My dissertation project—entitled “Dynastic Ideology, Historical Writing and the Chancery in al-Andalus and the Maghrib: A Study of Itinerant Court Secretaries (Kuttāb) in the Late Medieval Islamic West”— explores the relationship between intellectual networks, historical writing and political power in fourteenth-century Iberia and North Africa.