Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Harlem's Public Schools, 1914-1954

    Author:
    Thomas Harbison
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines how school administrators, teachers, parents, and local activists attempted to improve public schools in Central Harlem between World War I and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. It reveals that animosity and distrust between parents, teachers, and the school administration, which peaked in New York City during the 1960s with mass boycotts and teacher strikes, had been growing for decades. During the 1920s, as the Great Migration filled Harlem schools with working-class African Americans from the South, New York City school administrators identified a need for an expanded school program to meet the needs of their students. This included the application of a host of Progressive Era initiatives, including health services, vocational training, and character education. At first, parents and concerned community members tacitly supported this approach. Yet, by the 1930s, parents and local civil rights activists--including some teachers--diverged from administrators in their understanding of the problems facing African American students. They accused the administration of racial discrimination based on stark inequalities in school conditions exposed by a series of incidents and investigative studies. Organizing in various ad-hoc parent-community groups, these women and men blamed the system's special treatment of black students for exacerbating rather than correcting inequality. Community-school relations further eroded when school administrators dealt with the second wave of the Great Migration beginning during World War II in a manner strikingly similar to the first. By 1954, the administration had established a pattern of adding extra programs to Harlem schools, while doing little to address community concerns about segregation and school inequality.

  • Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Harlem's Public Schools, 1914-1954

    Author:
    Thomas Harbison
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines how school administrators, teachers, parents, and local activists attempted to improve public schools in Central Harlem between World War I and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. It reveals that animosity and distrust between parents, teachers, and the school administration, which peaked in New York City during the 1960s with mass boycotts and teacher strikes, had been growing for decades. During the 1920s, as the Great Migration filled Harlem schools with working-class African Americans from the South, New York City school administrators identified a need for an expanded school program to meet the needs of their students. This included the application of a host of Progressive Era initiatives, including health services, vocational training, and character education. At first, parents and concerned community members tacitly supported this approach. Yet, by the 1930s, parents and local civil rights activists--including some teachers--diverged from administrators in their understanding of the problems facing African American students. They accused the administration of racial discrimination based on stark inequalities in school conditions exposed by a series of incidents and investigative studies. Organizing in various ad-hoc parent-community groups, these women and men blamed the system's special treatment of black students for exacerbating rather than correcting inequality. Community-school relations further eroded when school administrators dealt with the second wave of the Great Migration beginning during World War II in a manner strikingly similar to the first. By 1954, the administration had established a pattern of adding extra programs to Harlem schools, while doing little to address community concerns about segregation and school inequality.

  • Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and His Politics

    Author:
    Ernest Ialongo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Marta Petrusewicz
    Abstract:

    Abstract FILIPPO TOMMASO MARINETTI: THE ARTIST AND HIS POLITICS by Ernest Ialongo Adviser: Professor Marta Petrusewicz Much of the existing interpretations of Marinetti's political activities and views tend to divide a radical 'heroic' period up to 1920 from the less palatable period thereafter under the Fascist regime. Additionally, research on Marinetti's activities on behalf of the Fascist regime is not as thorough as his political activities before and immediately after the Great War. Consequently, a comprehensive narrative and interpretation of Marinetti's political views and activities throughout his political life--1909-1944--is lacking. My goal in this dissertation is to provide an interpretive framework that encompasses the whole of Marinetti's politics, and seeks to explain how the supposedly radical Marinetti did in fact become one of the leading members of a reactionary Fascist regime. My thesis is that Marinetti's politics were made up of two fundamentally contradictory sets of goals, and throughout his life he sought to bring these two goals together into a workable politics. He sought to advance individual liberties in modern society, but he also desired national greatness, which entailed a certain level of collective order and unity that perforce required limits on individual liberties. This attempt to achieve both liberty and order manifested itself in a series of radical and nationalist political objectives which always sounded reconcilable in the abstract, but never worked out in practice. When faced with the urgency of political reality, when Marinetti had to choose between his radical and nationalist goals, he invariably chose the latter. Thus, I argue that there was no split between the supposedly radical Marinetti of the early years (1909-1920) and the Marinetti of the Fascist era. Politically, the latter was the logical development of the former.

  • Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and His Politics

    Author:
    Ernest Ialongo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Marta Petrusewicz
    Abstract:

    Abstract FILIPPO TOMMASO MARINETTI: THE ARTIST AND HIS POLITICS by Ernest Ialongo Adviser: Professor Marta Petrusewicz Much of the existing interpretations of Marinetti's political activities and views tend to divide a radical 'heroic' period up to 1920 from the less palatable period thereafter under the Fascist regime. Additionally, research on Marinetti's activities on behalf of the Fascist regime is not as thorough as his political activities before and immediately after the Great War. Consequently, a comprehensive narrative and interpretation of Marinetti's political views and activities throughout his political life--1909-1944--is lacking. My goal in this dissertation is to provide an interpretive framework that encompasses the whole of Marinetti's politics, and seeks to explain how the supposedly radical Marinetti did in fact become one of the leading members of a reactionary Fascist regime. My thesis is that Marinetti's politics were made up of two fundamentally contradictory sets of goals, and throughout his life he sought to bring these two goals together into a workable politics. He sought to advance individual liberties in modern society, but he also desired national greatness, which entailed a certain level of collective order and unity that perforce required limits on individual liberties. This attempt to achieve both liberty and order manifested itself in a series of radical and nationalist political objectives which always sounded reconcilable in the abstract, but never worked out in practice. When faced with the urgency of political reality, when Marinetti had to choose between his radical and nationalist goals, he invariably chose the latter. Thus, I argue that there was no split between the supposedly radical Marinetti of the early years (1909-1920) and the Marinetti of the Fascist era. Politically, the latter was the logical development of the former.

  • Reorienting American Liberal Judaism for the Twentieth Century: Stephen S. Wise and the Early Years of the Jewish Institute of Religion

    Author:
    Shirley Idelson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert Seltzer
    Abstract:

    This study explores how Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and supporters from the Free Synagogue and elsewhere sought to reorient American liberal Judaism by establishing the Jewish Institute of Religion (JIR) in the early 1920s. They believed the leaders of the Reform movement at that time were reluctant to relinquish an outmoded approach that had lost relevance in light of a new demographic reality whereby over a million Eastern European Jews now living in New York were becoming the dominant presence in American Jewish life. The JIR founders attributed this to Reform's having become insular, unresponsive to pressing social issues, overly concerned with respectability, and spiritually lifeless. Wise and his circle advanced a vision for liberal Judaism they considered to be more modern and American, more liberal and more deeply Jewish. While they attempted to advance their vision for liberal Judaism on many fronts, they believed that critical to the task was creating a New York-based scholarly center capable of training a new kind of rabbi. This work describes the key individuals in addition to Wise who created the Institute, the international scholars who formed the first faculty, and the debates that ensued and obstacles encountered as the institution took shape. From the outset, the founders determined that JIR would differ from existing schools in significant ways. For example, prioritizing the "oneness of Israel," JIR would include faculty and students representing a broad spectrum of belief, from Orthodox to non-Orthodox, and Zionist to non-Zionist. All students would enter with a bachelor's degree, and in addition to studying traditional fields like Bible, history and Talmud, they would study modern Hebrew, social service and contemporary trends in Jewish education. In addition, through fieldwork, students would utilize the metropolitan area as a laboratory for learning how to serve American Jewry as inspiring, socially-engaged rabbis. With these and other innovations, Wise and the founders believed JIR would point twentieth-century liberal Judaism in new directions. Though they did not succeed in all they set out to achieve, many aspects of the reorientation of American Jewish religious life they pursued remain with us today.

  • Books Across Borders and Between Libraries: UNESCO and the Politics of Postwar Cultural Reconstruction, 1945-1951

    Author:
    Miriam Intrator
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Dagmar Herzog
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a history of the emotional, political and technical power of libraries and books in the immediate post-World War II moment, examined through the lens of the reconstruction and rehabilitation activities undertaken by the Libraries Section of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. For UNESCO's founders, since libraries, books and information had been targets of abuse and misuse under fascism, their renewal had to be an area of primary concern in the postwar. In that endeavor UNESCO faced, on the one hand, urgent demand for both replacement and new, up-to-date sources of information and publications, and on the other hand, issues of censorship, ownership and rights over confiscated, stolen and other displaced materials. National and international priorities regarding book distribution and the renewal and expansion of libraries intersected with early Cold War intergovernmental conflicts within the transnational forum of UNESCO; its leadership, staff and collaborators sought to achieve a balance between the organization's universalist mission and the aims of its individual member states. Within that rubric this research examines three themes. First, practical programs to provide libraries with the means to acquire books they wanted and needed; second, proposed programs in which UNESCO would play a mediating role in the delicate, political and often emotional debates over the fate of confiscated and displaced libraries and books; and third, UNESCO's contribution to formulating notions of cultural rights as human rights within the context of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By honing in on the key actors, immediate aims and long-term goals of the Libraries Section, this study provides nuanced insight into the complexities and specificities of UNESCO's areas of interest, action and inaction during the early postwar, post-Holocaust, Cold War years. Examination of the unprecedented and increasingly global level of transnational, intergovernmental and inter-organizational networking initiated and facilitated by UNESCO for the library world illuminates how international relations and national politics both helped and hindered UNESCO's efforts, and identifies the short- and long-term impact on library and book culture, focusing in particular on the examples of France, Poland, and surviving Jewish Europe.

  • Pittsburgh's Response to Deindustrialization: Renaissance, Renewal and Recovery, 1946-1999

    Author:
    Mariel Isaacson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kessner
    Abstract:

    Pittsburgh was able to gradually ease its transition into a post-industrial economy in the second half of the twentieth century because of an elite-driven planning movement known as the Pittsburgh Renaissance. The Renaissance first addressed the physical failings of the city and sought state legislation that would support further urban redevelopment immediately following World War II. While the physical improvements were underway, Renaissance organizers began working with the University of Pittsburgh to upgrade Pitt's educational and recreational facilities so that it would become an engine for the city's future economic growth. City support for improved facilities, especially those pertaining to the growing medical center and scientific research programs, laid the foundation for the city's post-industrial economy. Evolving plans for a new municipal amphitheater also began in the mid-1940s, but merged with the federal urban renewal program in the mid-1950s. The intention was to turn Pittsburgh into a business tourism destination that would highlight the city's cultural assets with an adjacent Center for the Arts, but the finished facility failed to meet the expectations planners set for it and constituted a transformative experience for the Renaissance movement. When Renaissance planning resumed in the late 1970s, it returned without centralized control, but it shared the goals of promoting Downtown Pittsburgh as a business center, diversifying the city's economy away from steel, and emphasizing the city's cultural institutions. As Renaissance continued through the next two decades, these core values continued to motivate projects and link it to past accomplishments solidifying the importance of planning to the city's operations. By responding to the threat of capital flight in the 1940s, the Renaissance created a movement that could outlast any individual participants, suspend and resume operations as needed, and adapt to meet different crises that emerged over time.

  • The United States National Student Association: Democracy, Activism, and the Idea of the Student, 1947-1978

    Author:
    J. Johnston
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Gerald Markowitz
    Abstract:

    The United States National Student Association (USNSA, or simply NSA), America's dominant national union of students from 1947 to 1978, was the locus of an extraordinary variety of student organizing over the course of its 31-year history. A confederation of student governments, NSA claimed an active membership of hundreds of colleges and universities, trained and informed tens of thousands of student leaders, and served as both a resource and a foil to the other student organizations of its era. NSA's annual meeting, the National Student Congress, drew participation from a broad cross-section of American campuses. It was an incubator of theories and strategies of student empowerment that shaped the university, and a site of debate, consciousness-raising, information exchange, and organizing work. NSA maintained significant relationships with a wide variety of other student activist groups, including Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Young Americans for Freedom, and the National Student Lobby, the last of which it merged with in 1978 to create the United States Student Association. From the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, its top leadership was also engaged in a clandestine relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Through more than three decades NSA provided one of the few sources of long-term continuity in American student activism, and its persistent emphasis on the student's role in the university and the larger society enabled it to retain its campus focus, and its student base, as other student organizations drifted, often to their detriment. NSA grew from the premise that a student organization could be both activist and representative of the nation's students. This premise was the source of much of its strength. It was also, however, a source of great internal strain, and a drag on some of the Association's grander ambitions. While NSA's grounding in student government lent it a stability, longevity, and ideological diversity that is unparalleled among American student organizations, it also often fostered a timidity and a bureaucratic mindset that often constrained it from taking bold action at moments of upheaval and opportunity.

  • Homonoia in the Roman Empire

    Author:
    J. Kinlaw
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    joel allen
    Abstract:

    This study centers on the role of the idea of homonoia in the eastern Roman Empire between 50 and 170 CE. It focuses on six Greek-speaking authors, each of whom form one of the following chapters, which are arranged in rough chronological order. These authors and their emperors view reality through a lens of virtue and vice, and the ideal of "like-mindedness" has a vital, if little-discussed place in such a worldview. The socio-political value of homonoia was important enough to be personified and worshiped as deity. Nevertheless, there is no English monograph on the topic. This dissertation highlights the role of homonoia in authors traditionally labelled as either "pagan" or "Christian." Homonoia was essential in both these environments. It played an important role in the socio-political assemblies, on the one hand, as well as philosophical and religious dialogue, on the other.

  • Goals and Dreams: The Quest to Create Elite Youth Athletes in France, 1958-92

    Author:
    Lindsay Krasnoff
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Evelyn Ackerman
    Abstract:

    France was one of the first countries to develop programs that integrated youth athletics with academics and medical supervision to produce elite athletes. Today the products of the French systems play for the best teams and leagues around the world. Many countries from Africa to Great Britain have implemented youth training structures based upon the French model. But it was not always this way. This study examines the origins, implementation, and evolution of French youth sports training programs from 1958 to 1992. The lenses of football and basketball are used to amplify how Anglo-American team sports were used by the French to reformulate French identity and influence. Yet, this work is about more than just athletics. It is the story of France during the last half of the twentieth century, how it grappled with and adjusted to the many transitions that defined the post-1945 era, and how it positioned itself in the new Cold War world. Sport, specifically at the youth level, was one of the ways in which the French tried to address and adapt to a variety of post-war changes. After 1973, sport was an antidote to the legacy of 1968: a way to reinforce authority and nationalism in an era of increasing globalization during which the youth tested the limits of the rules. Youth sports programs served to assimilate youth, especially immigrant youth, into French society. France used youth sports as an agent of modernization, to re-launch itself as a rejuvenated nation that relied upon rationalized athletic development to produce elite athletes, ideal citizens who would win international sporting events and titles. The youth sports programs were important ways for the French to regain their sense of honor and prestige domestically and abroad. At a time in which soft power was an important tool of diplomacy, such athletic successes helped to demonstrate a revived France in a way that Charles de Gaulle was unable to accomplish during the 1960s.