Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • The new Star of 1572 and the Ascendancy of the Mathematical over the Causal Epistemology of Natural Philosophy

    Author:
    Douglas Godley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joseph Dauben
    Abstract:

    Abstract The New Star of 1572 and the Ascendancy of the Mathematical over the Causal Epistemology of Natural Philosophy By Douglas Godley Advisor: Professor Joseph Dauben The arrival of the new star of 1572, the first nova recorded in the western canon of natural philosophy startled and challenged the scientific community of the age. As they worked to observe and to understand the nature of this new star, astronomers across Europe quickly discovered that the traditional intellectual tools that they had come to respect and rely upon when observing the heavens were by and large useless in helping them to gather data, and thus to come to conclusions about the star's location, its physical nature and its meaning. In the records that contemporaries have left, modern readers may see how the nova's observers quickly adapted new tools and revised old theories in an effort develop satisfying answers to the questions the nova's arrival forced them to ask. The literary records and physical artifacts of the star's fourteen month long visit also reveal the extent to which natural philosophers had begun to distrust and even to jettison the fundamental tenets of the millennia old epistemologies that had guided their basic beliefs in the ways in which the cosmos was to be understood. In these reports and letters, readers will find technical accounts that will also help them to gauge how far those observers had moved towards the acceptance of an epistemology based upon the values of observation and mathematical analysis. Nova observers of the post Copernican half century, it will be seen, were flexible and independent thinkers, open to new theories and intellectual crosscurrents. They were also active gathers and disseminators of natural knowledge, as well as participants in the continent wide network of scientific investigators; responding to the age's onrush of new information, new technologies and experiences.

  • Tinturae Romanorum: Social and Cultural Constructions of Color-Terms in Roman Literature

    Author:
    Rachael Goldman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Jennifer Roberts
    Abstract:

    Literary sources in poetry, prose and inscriptions offer many examples of the use of color-terms in Latin texts, which carry connotations of value, both negative and positive, based on their associations with contemporary social groups. In this study I discuss several themes dealing with color-terms and their use in Latin literature which have not been explored in previous scholarship. I examine the debate on color-terms in Aulus Gellius' Attic Nights 2.26; the Roman dye industry and Roman clothing; class distinctions in Roman society, with particular emphasis on the freedman; color-terms as applied to physiognomic principles in descriptions of people and ethnic groups; and a special category of color-terms which cover multiple colors, such as versicolor and bicolor. By exploring the use of color-terms in these cultural contexts, we may gain a deeper understanding of the Roman mind.

  • The Temptation of Saints in Latin Narrative: England, France, and the Low Countries, 1100-1230

    Author:
    Adina Goldstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Head
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines a series of twelfth- and early thirteenth-century narratives in which holy men and women are tempted and tormented by what they and the shapers and readers of their life stories understood to be the devil. By analyzing the social and cultural conditions that brought about the creation of particular relationships between saints and the devil, it looks beyond the hagiographic topos of the saint defeating the "ancient enemy" in the "desert" to the particulars of the "desert" for each holy person. These episodes can reveal aspects of medieval religious life that may otherwise be ignored within the set pattern of a saint's life (conversion, temptation, victory over the devil). By replacing "the devil" with the concept of struggle or crisis, the temptation stories become charged moments in a life when new relationships are formed and old relationships changed-- points at which the status quo is threatened. Several models of how this works emerge. The hagiographer may focus on an individual's spiritual development through his relationship with the devil. In these vitae, the inner life of the saint is critical and the devil will build up his attacks as internal torments which include the sins of doubt and despair. In another model, the hagiographer focuses on the individual holy person who leads a community. In these cases, the internal spiritual development of the saint is less important than the stability of his public role and responsibilities to his community. Some vitae concentrate on the saint's struggle to enter the religious life. In others, the entry appears seamless and difficulties (almost, but not always, associated with the devil) emerge well after the conversion. In each of these cases, the role of the devil in the vita reflects a larger story in which social background, age, gender, and choice of religious lifestyle are critical.

  • The Temptation of Saints in Latin Narrative: England, France, and the Low Countries, 1100-1230

    Author:
    Adina Goldstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Head
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines a series of twelfth- and early thirteenth-century narratives in which holy men and women are tempted and tormented by what they and the shapers and readers of their life stories understood to be the devil. By analyzing the social and cultural conditions that brought about the creation of particular relationships between saints and the devil, it looks beyond the hagiographic topos of the saint defeating the "ancient enemy" in the "desert" to the particulars of the "desert" for each holy person. These episodes can reveal aspects of medieval religious life that may otherwise be ignored within the set pattern of a saint's life (conversion, temptation, victory over the devil). By replacing "the devil" with the concept of struggle or crisis, the temptation stories become charged moments in a life when new relationships are formed and old relationships changed-- points at which the status quo is threatened. Several models of how this works emerge. The hagiographer may focus on an individual's spiritual development through his relationship with the devil. In these vitae, the inner life of the saint is critical and the devil will build up his attacks as internal torments which include the sins of doubt and despair. In another model, the hagiographer focuses on the individual holy person who leads a community. In these cases, the internal spiritual development of the saint is less important than the stability of his public role and responsibilities to his community. Some vitae concentrate on the saint's struggle to enter the religious life. In others, the entry appears seamless and difficulties (almost, but not always, associated with the devil) emerge well after the conversion. In each of these cases, the role of the devil in the vita reflects a larger story in which social background, age, gender, and choice of religious lifestyle are critical.

  • THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: SMALLPOX VACCINATION AND THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN CUBA

    Author:
    Stephanie Gonzalez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Herman Bennett
    Abstract:

    This dissertation tracks the introduction and development of smallpox vaccination in colonial Cuba from the early nineteenth century to the American occupation of 1898. Native (creole) medical practitioners utilized smallpox vaccination as an instrument for securing status as professionals and conceptualizing new identities in a colonial slave society. The smallpox vaccination program allowed licensed practitioners to create a medical monopoly, foster scientific standards and cultivate a medical ethic. Creole vaccinators initially identified with a colonial state that protected their professional interests as necessary for the maintenance of Cuba's slave-based, agro-industrial sugar complex. By the end of the nineteenth century however, professional divestment and ethnic strife convinced fledgling medical professionals to mobilize their creole, scientific identities against Spanish colonial rule.

  • In the Shade of Tocqueville

    Author:
    Sheryl Gordon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Richard Wolin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the reception of Alexis de Tocqueville by American and European intellectuals who worked and lived in America during the 1940s and 1950s. The intellectuals featured in the dissertation include David Riesman, Louis Hartz, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. I analyze their personal correspondence and seminal scholarly works, each of which has helped promote different images of Tocqueville. Re-evaluating the Tocquevillean aspects of these influential works, such as The Lonely Crowd, The Liberal Tradition in America, Origins of Totalitarianism, and Natural Right and History, sheds new light on the authors' true understanding of Tocqueville and deep appreciation of his ideas. I also examine the use of Tocqueville by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Council Against Communist Aggression, and F.A. Hayek to understand how Tocqueville became the anti-Marx during the fifties. I argue that Tocqueville's ideas played an important role in shaping the thoughts and views of all of these intellectuals during this important period after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Concerned with the flaws of a democratic society that promoted equality and liberty, they found in Tocqueville the ways to fix them, and, ultimately, hope.

  • In the Shade of Tocqueville

    Author:
    Sheryl Gordon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Richard Wolin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the reception of Alexis de Tocqueville by American and European intellectuals who worked and lived in America during the 1940s and 1950s. The intellectuals featured in the dissertation include David Riesman, Louis Hartz, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. I analyze their personal correspondence and seminal scholarly works, each of which has helped promote different images of Tocqueville. Re-evaluating the Tocquevillean aspects of these influential works, such as The Lonely Crowd, The Liberal Tradition in America, Origins of Totalitarianism, and Natural Right and History, sheds new light on the authors' true understanding of Tocqueville and deep appreciation of his ideas. I also examine the use of Tocqueville by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Council Against Communist Aggression, and F.A. Hayek to understand how Tocqueville became the anti-Marx during the fifties. I argue that Tocqueville's ideas played an important role in shaping the thoughts and views of all of these intellectuals during this important period after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Concerned with the flaws of a democratic society that promoted equality and liberty, they found in Tocqueville the ways to fix them, and, ultimately, hope.

  • Disease, Empire and Modernity in the Caribbean: Tuberculosis in Cuba, 1899-1909

    Author:
    John Gutierrez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Laird Bergad
    Abstract:

    This dissertation focuses on the anti-tuberculosis movement in Cuba between 1899 and 1909 and the ways in which the struggle against this deadly disease highlighted complex issues of sovereignty, modernity and public health on the island. Among infectious diseases, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in Cuba during these years and it affected every sector of Cuban society without regard to race, gender or national origin. The disease was found all over the island from the urban slums of Havana and Santiago de Cuba to the tobacco factories of Pinar del Rio. Debates about its treatment were common in Cuban and U.S. medical circles and, in fits and starts there were attempts to control its spread throughout the island, most especially, in Havana. Yet, despite the impact that tuberculosis had on Cuban society, there have been few efforts to analyze the ways in which Cuban and U.S. authorities on the island contended with the disease during the first decade of the twentieth century. This dissertation addresses this void in the literature by placing tuberculosis within three broad contexts: the history of U.S.-Cuban relations, the history of public health in Latin America, and the history of tuberculosis control movements in the Americas. In particular, the dissertation examines the ways in which tuberculosis served as a site of collaboration and contestation between U.S. and Cuban government and public health officials, the reasons why the anti-tuberculosis movement was overshadowed by efforts to control the spread of yellow fever and an examination of the Cuban organizations created to combat the disease. Additionally, this dissertation examines how the battle against tuberculosis became an important part of Cuban attempts to present their young nation as a modern and progressive republic.

  • "THE LAST OF THE GREAT BOHEMIANS": FILM POETRY, MYTH, AND SEXUALITY IN GREENWICH VILLAGE AND THE ATLANTIC, 1930-1975

    Author:
    Thomas Hafer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freeman
    Abstract:

    In Greenwich Village, a final generation of bohemians contested the rise and trajectory of gay liberation. During the 1930s, this generation blended modernist poetry and sexuality to develop a new manifestation of bohemia. In the postwar period, they transformed modern poetry into the new artistic medium of film that was critical to shaping postwar American art and culture. This wave of bohemia was built on certain modernist principles, including a universalist understanding of sexuality and identity that was different from, and incompatible with, the growth of identity politics in the 1960s. This dissertation argues that this was a last gasp of modernist bohemian ideology that fought against identity politics and the intellectual shift towards postmodernism, but lost and died out. This study creates a social and cultural map of this Atlantic bohemia in the decades prior to its clash with identity politics. At its center is the collaborative friendship of critical film theorist Parker Tyler and multi-media artist Charles Henri Ford. Tyler and Ford moved within artistic circles that included poets, painters, composers, avant-garde filmmakers, and writers, and they were tangential to the Surrealists, the Beats, the New American Cinema, and Andy Warhol's Factory. While this world was anchored in Greenwich Village, Ford, Tyler, and their friends collaborated with other groups around the city, including African-American artists in Harlem, Upper East Side benefactors, and the Latino community in the Lower East side. They also built an Atlantic network to other bohemians within the United States and as they traveled to other places and communities throughout Europe, Latin America, and North Africa. They were able to use these connections to further their art and defend their world against social and cultural changes. Scholarship has often sought to trace Postmodernism from the 1970s back in the Modernist past. This project intervenes in that discourse by showing that bohemians were committed to Modernism into the 1970s and contested that intellectual shift. Their bohemian conception of identity and sexuality and the group's resistance to gay liberation also challenge the prevailing gay history narrative that focuses on a politicized gay identity in the post-Stonewall era.

  • Mothers Raise the Army: Women's Politics, Popular Culture, and the Great War in America, 1914-1941

    Author:
    Katherine Hallgren
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    David Nasaw
    Abstract:

    In April 1917, after America's declaration of war on Germany, pro-war women began to lobby Congress to pass a military draft. Presenting themselves as true mothers of the nation, these women described their sons as patriotic, naturally drawn to military service in wartime. They were attempting to combat two groups: the maternal pacifists who argued that women should oppose war, and the immigrants they feared would not enlist. Even after Congress passed conscription, the heroism of mothers of soldiers and sailors captured the imaginations of pro-war artists. Sheet music, short stories, journalism and film praised mothers willing to support their sons' enlistment. The nation's largest and most influential women's voluntary associations supported the war. Claiming to act as mothers to the nation, officers and members pressed for suffrage and morals reforms. African Americans used patriotic motherhood to remind whites of the history of black sacrifice for the nation. But while it could be used for a variety of causes, patriotic motherhood was an essentialist, conservative vision of a woman's role. As clubwomen adopted the role of mother to the nation's soldiers, they pushed for anti-prostitution measures that hurt working-class women and women of color. Clubwomen and reformers ignored their own studies showing that women engaged in prostitution because of poverty, not moral weakness. Their intense focus on the nation's soldier “boys” helped blind them to the needs of its daughters. After the war, organizations for mothers of world war servicemen kept ideals of patriotic motherhood alive. They took part in commemorations and holiday rituals and enjoyed the status of national heroines. Starting in the early 1920s, organizations such as the American War Mothers joined antiradical causes and pursued a politics that linked a strong military defense system with nativism and antiradicalism. The mothers appeared above the political fray until in the 1930s opponents exposed their racist practices, and a new student antiwar movement attacked patriotic motherhood as a perversion of a mother's love. Debates over the Second World War exploded the patriotic motherhood of the Great War generation but did not end Americans' fascination with mothers of soldiers.