Sunday, November 29, 2015

Roundtable Discussion of Russia's War on Terror

On Monday, November 16, Dr. Michael Slobodchikoff and Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki led a roundtable discussion on Russia’s War on Terror, as part of the History and Political Science Speaker Series.  The event was well attended, as Drs. Slobodchikoff and Pudlocki spoke to over 100 people in the audience. 

Dr. Slobodchikoff spoke about Syria’s civil war and how ISIL factors into the problems in Syria, as it is the major opposition faction in Syria.  He also spoke about Russia’s interests in Syria as well as the surrounding Middle Eastern region.  These interests include preventing extremism and terrorism from spreading to Russia, protecting long-time allies, protecting military bases, protecting business interests, among many others. 

Dr. Slobodchikoff also spoke about recent terrorist activity.  Russian Flight 9268 crashed en route to St. Petersburg, Russia from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.  ISIL took credit for the crash, which Russia responded to by cancelling all flights to and from Egypt.  He also spoke about the recent attacks on Paris, France.  ISIL has also claimed credit for the bombings and death of over 100 people in these attacks. 

Dr. Pudlocki spoke about the Syrian crisis from the perspective of Central Europe.  He discussed the current refugee crisis as a result of the Syrian civil war, economic downturn, and terrorist activity.  He commented on how central Europe has been responding to the influx of refugees and the struggles faced by these refugees fleeing terror in their home countries. 

The Department of History and Political Science would like to thank Dr. Slobodchikoff and Dr. Pudlocki for an engaging roundtable on this very relevant topic.  We also thank the Division of Arts and Sciences for co-sponsoring the event.  

For more information on this roundtable discussion, you can see press coverage of the event at the links provided below.  The History and Political Science Department was happy to see some of our students featured in the reports!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

2015 G.O.L.D. Award Recipient Stephanie Foreman (Political Science, 2006)

Making a Difference 

Stephanie Foreman, 2015 Graduate of the Last Decade Award Winner 
On November 3, 2015, Stephanie Foreman (2006, Political Science) was recognized as the 2015 Daemen College Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) at the annual Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony. Accepting the honor, Stephanie spoke of the lessons she derived from her experience as an undergraduate political science major at Daemen College, including making the most of every leaning opportunity.

Stephanie is a financial professional at Prudential Financial and the founding president of the Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals (BULYP). The distinguished alumni profile summarizes her many accomplishments:

Under Stephanie’s leadership, BULYP has been recognized from a number of different individuals and organizations, including the MLK Community Service Award from City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Legislature Proclamation presented by Rep. Barbara Miller-Williams and, most notably, Outstanding National Rookie Chapter of the Year at the 2014 National Urban League Conference Young Professionals Summit. Some of Stephanie’s other affiliations include Member of the Board of Directors for the Buffalo Urban League, Field Advisory Council for Prudential, Secretary for the Judges Row Block Club Association, Mentor for the Youth Entrepreneurial Program, Member of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce and Member of the group Women in Networking. Stephanie has also received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including being a recipient of the CHANGEMAKERS 30 Under 30 Award in 2014, Million Dollar Roundtable for Prudential Insurance in 2011 and 2012, Life Concierge for Prudential Insurance in 2012 and 2013, Masters Council for Prudential Annuities in 2012 and 2014 and the Women Touching the World Award in 2015.
President Gary Olson and Stephanie Foreman 
Stephanie is the third graduate of the History and Political Science department to win this award in the last five years. Wayne Brown (History & Government, 2003) and McKenzie Higgins (Political Science, 2009) were honored as recipients of the G.O.L.D. award in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Wayne Brown founded a charity specializing in support and information for patients with rare diseases and is author of the book, Alone in My Universe: Struggling with a Rare Disease in an Unsympathetic World. McKenzie Higgins graduated from Western Michigan University - Thomas Cooley School of Law and is presently an Human Resources Compliance Specialist for M&T Bank in Buffalo. Both Wayne and McKenzie were on hand to congratulate Stephanie and welcome her into the community of Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.  

 Wayne Brown (2003), McKenzie Higgins (2009) and Stephanie Foreman (2006)
Daemen College Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Winners: 2010, 2014, & 2015
What can you do with a History or Political Science Major?
Our graduates have embarked on a wide variety of successful career paths, including graduate study in international relations, law, law enforcement, and public service. Their collective success demonstrates the value of the History and Political Science degrees and a broad-based, liberal arts education. Our majors are making a crucial difference in their community and the world as models and agents for positive change. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Russia's War on Terror

The faculty of the History and Political Science Department invite you to attend a Roundtable Discussion focused on Russia's War on Terror.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Milestone reached!

Daemen College's History & Political Science Department Blog celebrates...

20,000 page views!

History & Politics Speaker Series: Dr. Erica Lehrer on "Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places"

Faculty of the History and Political Science Department cordially invite you to the next lecture in the History & Politics Speaker Series

Prof. Erica Lehrer

Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places

Monday, 26 October 2015
7:00 pm
Wick Alumni Lounge

Generously funded and sponsored by Collegiate Village

Jewish heritage revival in Poland is a phenomenon that has attracted a great deal of attention and provoked many controversies. American cultural anthropologist Erica Lehrer ventures into this territory, both fascinating and fraught with tension, giving a fresh glimpse into the backstage of the Jewish heritage industry.

Dr. Erica Lehrer

Prof. Erica Lehrer is a socio-cultural anthropologist and curator. She is currently Associate Professor in the departments of History and Sociology-Anthropology and Canada Research Chair in Museum & Heritage Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. She is the author (among other publications) of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana University Press, 2013), and editor (with Michael Meng) of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (2015). In 2013 she curated the exhibit “Souvenir, Talisman, Toy” at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, and in 2014 published the accompanying book Lucky Jews and the online exhibit

Interview with Professor Robert Blobaum, Eberly Family Professor at West Virginia University

Professor Robert Blobaum, Eberly Family Professor at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV), discussed World War I, Buffalo, and the practical side of history in an interview with Tomasz Pudłocki (Assistant Professor of History, Jagiellonian University; Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Daemen College).


Prof. Robert Blobaum

Tomasz Pudłocki:  Not long ago, you participated in a conference on World War I (Death of Empires) at Daemen College in Amherst, NY. As the keynote speaker, you delivered a presentation on Warsaw during the Great War. How were you able to place events in Warsaw within the broader context of the death of empires?” What can we say about life in this city during WWI? 
Robert Blobaum:  It was Warsaw’s fate to bear witness to the collapse of two of them during the First World War—that of the Russian Empire, which for Warsaw effectively occurred in August 1915 when the Russians were forced to evacuate the city, never to return, and then that of the Second German Reich whose forces occupied the city following the Russian withdrawal, only themselves to depart in the fall of 1918. One is tempted to add a third empire to this mix, the Austro-Hungarian, but its presence in the city was essentially a diplomatic one of ever dwindling influence. In many ways, life in Warsaw during the war was similar to that in imperial capitals such as Vienna, Berlin and St. Petersburg, particularly in regard to the experience of food supply, quality and distribution. In other ways, however, it was significantly different, for example, in the high level of unemployment and massive out-migration, voluntary and involuntary, of much of its working-age male population. 

T. P.:  You are well-known for your works on the Polish lands before 1914. Why did you decide to study World War I? Was it because of the centenary or is it a part of your broader interest? 
R.B.:  In part, it was a natural progression for me, after my earlier studies of the Kingdom of Poland and Warsaw before the First World War. I had planned to move on to the First World War somewhat earlier but another project, the organization and editing of a collaborative volume on antisemitism in modern Poland, intervened in the meantime. The centenary only came into play once I was finally able to begin my research on Warsaw during the war in 2008.  

T.P.:  You have studied Poland and Polish history for many years, and you have authored many books and articles. You have won many awards for your innovative approaches to issues in Polish history. Could you tell us how you became interested in Polish history? 
R.B.:  My original interest was actually focused on imperial and revolutionary Russia. The role of Poland and Poles in that history, however, had led me westward by the time I began my doctoral studies, eventually to my dissertation on Feliks Dzierżyński and then later to the Revolution of 1905 in the Kingdom of Poland. 

T.P.:  Is it easy to speak to an American audience about Polish affairs? Many Americans have trouble locating Poland on a map, not to mention the difficulties of pronouncing Polish names. Does this affect the popularity of your research? 
R.B.: Americans have difficulty with names in any other language other than English. Only a minority are able to pronounce my German surname properly. Once, however, Americans realize that they cannot hope to understand European history and affairs, particularly in the modern era, without knowledge of Poland at its epicenter, it’s a much easier sell. One can make the argument that Poland is as relevant as France and Great Britain, if not more so, to modern European history, but to do that it is necessary to demonstrate that Polish history is not and never has been peripheral. Given Poland’s location on the map of Europe, how could it be? 

T.P.:  Do you have any advice for students who are interested in Central and Eastern Europe? To what areas of research would you turn their attention? 
R.B.:  My first piece of advice is to familiarize themselves with one or more languages of the region. For example, to do Polish history justice, one should know at least four languages in addition to English: Polish, of course, but also Russian, German and Yiddish, not to mention Ukrainian, Belorusian, and Lithuanian. While I have some kind of proficiency in three of these of languages, I regret to this day that Yiddish is not among them. As for areas of research, the field is wide open. For example, when I have been asked to compare the experience of the Great War in Warsaw with that of other Polish cities, I can do so only in the most general terms because that work hasn’t been done in any systematic way for places like Kraków, Lwów, Poznań, Łódź, etc. Even for the Second World War, until the recent appearance of Joshua Zimmerman’s book on the Polish underground and the Jews this year, no serious scholarly monograph has gone beyond stereotypes to treat that controversial topic in a dispassionate and impartial way. In any event, there is much to do in practically every area of Central and East European history.   

T.P.:  And what about the nationality/ethnicity of the researcher? In your opinion, is it a factor that helps or hinders his/her research? Or does it matter? 
R.B.:  It shouldn’t matter but it has in the past, especially in dealing with issues of interethnic relations. One’s ethnicity can be beneficial, in adding nuance and insight about group thinking. Or it can be harmful, a source of bias and stereotypes. Often, one’s ethnicity is held against or in favor of the researcher, without any basis in the quality of research itself. For example, I have often been assumed to be Jewish because of my surname, which then has been said to disqualify me from making pronouncements on the history of Polish-Jewish relations. On the other hand, my actual status as a third-generation American of German descent for some has presumably endowed me with impartiality in dealing with such issues.  

T.P.:  Do you believe that universities and colleges in Buffalo, such as Daemen College, are good places to study Central and Eastern Europe? 
R.B.:  Definitely. First, because Buffalo and other cities on the Great Lakes and in the upper Midwest were major destinations of the Central and East European immigrants, so there is a natural audience of those looking to understand their roots beyond mere genealogy. Secondly, colleges like Daemen have recruited faculty, people like Professor Andrew Wise, who are skilled researchers and program builders. The Death of Empires” conference is a testimony to such efforts, as was the amazing Nikifor exhibit at Daemen, organized by Professor Wise.  

Prof. Robert Blobaum and Dr. Andrew Wise

Dr. Wise, Prof. Blobaum, and Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki

T.P.:  In Poland, students often ask about the viability of degrees in the humanities. Are there jobs in the USA for persons interested in studying the history of Central or Eastern Europe? 

R.B.: There are jobs, but not necessarily in the academy or in teaching.  The private business sector in the United States, for example, hires more holders of Humanities degrees than one might imagine because it values research skills on the one hand, and communication skills necessary to relay information derived from research on the other. Often, private businesses have found that graduates of business schools and engineering programs don’t possess these important skills. My advice to students interested in the Humanities is to follow their passion, but combine that passion with at least some academic coursework and training in another discipline.  

T.P.:  I have the impression that the anniversaries connected with World War I (the Great War) are of greater interest to Europeans than Americans. There seem to be many more commemorations in Europe than in the USA. Why is this the case? 

R.B.:  The main reason is that the United States entered the war relatively late, officially in April 1917, but not until a year later did Americans appear in the trenches of the western front. The Great War was not nearly as traumatic for Americans as it was for Europeans. This is more important than the fact that none of the war was fought on American soil, which could also be said of the Second World War, but it is far more commemorated. Of course, how and to what extent the Great War is commemorated in Europe varies significantly from country to country as well. 

T.P.:  In conclusion, I would like to ask you about your forthcoming plans. The presentation at the “Death of Empires” conference at Daemen College is part of a larger book project. Could you share some thoughts about any other research projects? 

R.B.:  First, I need  to see my book on Warsaw during the Great War through to publication. That will take a year of revisions, editing, securing permissions for photographs and other images, indexing, etc.  Academic book publishing in the U.S. is a long process, even after a contract is signed. I also need to see through some smaller projects that have been accepted for publication—one on Polish-Jewish relations in Warsaw during the Great War, another on the role and limitations of "ego-documents” (personal correspondence, diaries, accounts, testimonies, memoirs) in conducting research on everyday life during wartime. Beyond that, we need to remember that Warsaw remained a city at war after the Great War, only now as the capital city of an independent Poland. While the Polish-Soviet war has been fairly well researched, we know little about its impact on living conditions in Warsaw, particularly as it became a frontline city in that conflict. Finally, I have been approached about co-organizing and editing a collaborative volume devoted to research on the social and cultural history of Central and East European cities during the Great War, cities which have yet to be examined and certainly not in any comparative way. I have already mentioned Polish cities like Poznań, Kraków, Łódź and Lwów, but cities like Budapest, Prague, Belgrade, Bratislava, and Vilnius—the list could go on—would also be included.

T.P.: Thank you very much.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's the value of a Liberal Arts education?

Why is it important to take courses in the humanities and social sciences? A recent essay in The Atlantic ("The Unexpected Schools Championing the Liberal Arts" published on October 15) emphasized the value of coursework in history, the social sciences, philosophy, and other disciplines included in a liberal arts education by profiling military academies and culinary schools that require students to take extensive coursework in these areas.

Cadets in classrooms at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who are required to take humanities and social sciences courses

At West Point and other military academies, students take courses in the humanities and social sciences to learn how to think, how to understand causation, and how to adapt to change, among other "habits of mind." West Point Academic Dean Brigadier General Timothy Trainer put it this way:
"It’s important to develop in young people the ability to think broadly, to operate in the context of other societies and become agile and adaptive thinkers...What you're trying to do is teach them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. They’re having to deal with people from other cultures. They have to think very intuitively to solve problems on the ground."
Challenging the trend at some colleges and universities, which have abandoned the liberal arts and sciences to focus on what are perceived as "practical" or "job-ready" education, this story points out that a short-term focus on vocational skills does not equip students with skills that business leaders are looking for in new employees--such as critical thinking, analysis, applied knowledge, and communications skills. Michael Sperling, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Culinary Institute, said "We should be educating students, yes, for a first job, but really for their fifth job or their 10th job—for a lifetime of success."

“There are some governors and demagogic politicians of whichever party who aren’t listening to the business leadership and the military leadership,” said Jim Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association. “It’s shortsighted. They don’t understand what students take from courses like history. They don’t realize that what you really learn are ways of thinking about things like how does change happen, and how to learn and think clearly.”
Why do culinary schools require students to take courses in history and the social sciences? Read the full story (linked here) to learn the answer.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

AAUW Student Organization: Interest Meeting Oct 8

Daemen's American Association of University Women (AAUW) student organization is holding an interest meeting and electing officers on Thursday, October 8, at noon in Wick Center room 113/115. 

The AAUW is a powerful voice for gender equity and has been advocating for educational access for girls and women since 1881. Daemen's AAUW student organization got official recognition by the national AAUW this past spring as a student affiliate. The club is open to students of all genders who share a commitment to gender equity. You can learn more about the AAUW by visiting the AAUW's webpage or read up on the many activities of Daemen's AAUW student organization in this story from last year.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Student Profile: Ashley Cheff (Political Science, 2016)

Political Science major, Ashley Cheff, has received much well-deserved attention for her accomplishments as a student athlete, (Buffalo News Story).  Indeed, Ashley will be the first to tell you how she has learned to apply the discipline she learned in sports to her studies.

“Just like you make plans with your friends around practice you should make those same plans around study time. Just like you set a goal for a race or a game you should set a goal for the next test or paper you have. Just like you wouldn’t show up to practice without your gear you don’t turn in an assignment that hasn’t properly been prepared. Just like you wouldn’t quit because of a bad game or race you don’t give up because you’re struggling in the classroom. Just like you ask your coach for help, when you want to master a skill you work with your professors and ask them questions too. You create the balance by putting in the same effort, time, and dedication to everything you do, whether it be the game you love or the paper you write.” 

Ashley is indeed a master of time management and strategic planning.  As Ashley’s academic advisor, I vividly remember meeting her meeting her for the first time. Rarely do freshman arrive for that first session with a proposed plan of action and such a clear-headed description of what they wish to accomplish in college and in life. 

Ashley writes that she “learned very quickly that setting goals is one thing, but achieving them is another and to make that achievement possible you have to work hard.” Fidelity to those goals and a willingness to work hard has guided her all throughout her time at Daemen. Just three short years later, Ashley is well on the way to making the next of her goals a reality.  

Ashley is incredibly modest about her undergraduate academic accomplishments. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was named one of Top 10 freshman – an honor given to freshmen who earned the top grade point average in their freshman year.  Ashley has thus far excelled in every subject, in large part due to her dedication to putting in her best effort, but also due her mature approach to the value of learning: “I know I won’t get every question right, I won’t get a perfect score on every test or an A on every paper, but if I work hard and regularly set goals for myself something great can and will come out of it.” As one of her senior thesis advisors, I can attest that Ashley is every bit as “coachable” in the classroom as she is on the field: she shows up with a good attitude, asks for honest feedback, learns from constructive criticism, and applies what she learns to the next experience.  

There is a passion beyond athletics which guides Ashley: her compassion and advocacy for those with mental illness and mental disabilities. Ashley has developed her expertise in this area by adding a Philosophy minor to her Pre Law minor. In so doing, she has worked closely with Dr. Serife Tekin, an expert on the philosophy of psychiatry and Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Under Dr. Tekin’s guidance, Ashley recently presented a paper on the “Ethical Implications of Inconclusive Research on Schizophrenia” at the 29th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) held at Eastern Washington University. Their collaboration has resulted in an acceptance for publication and the promise of more scholarly research to come. Ashley’s senior thesis project, a requirement of her Political Science major, is also a study of mental health care policy, examining the legal definition of danger in a cross-state comparison of involuntary civil commitment laws. The expertise which Ashley is building through her choice of academic major and minors will serve as a foundation for her intended career as a mental health law professional. 

“It’s not out of the ordinary for people to ask me how I balance being an athlete and a student and I always find this question so difficult to answer,” Ashley noted. Perhaps this is because Ashley has an almost superhuman knack for making the impossible seem easy. She is the personification of dedication as both a scholar and an athlete.   

~Dr. Lisa K. Parshall    

Friday, September 11, 2015

Please Join us for a Panel Discussion on the U.S. Constitution in a Global Context

 Constitution and Citizenship Day  

September 17, 2015  

To celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the History & Government Club and the Pre Law Student Association (PLSA) will be handing out free copies of The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About It.  Stop by their table in Wick Lobby from 11:30-12:30 on Thursday, September 17, for your free copy, and vote for your favorite constitutional amendment!

Please join the Department of History & Political Science for a panel discussion of the U.S. Constitution in a Global Context, starting at 2;30 pm in Alumni Lounge (Wick Center) on Thursday, September 17, 2015.  The panelists will explore various facets of the global context of the founding era, placing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution in historical perspective. How were our founding documents in dialogue with a world-wide audience?  What is the legacy of the U.S. Declaration and the U.S. Constitution? In what ways has the U.S. Constitution served as a model for new constitutional regimes? To what extent are international constitutional principles incorporated into the U.S. judiciary's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in turn?  Can the U.S. Constitution be fully understood in the absence of a historical, global context?

Audience questions and participation will be welcomed.

Dr. Penny Messinger, Associate Professor of History
Dr. Lisa Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki, Visiting Associate Professor of History and Fulbright Scholar in Residence
Moderated by Dr. Jay Wendland, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Death of Empires: A Multidisciplinary Humanities Conference on World War I at Daemen College: September 18-19, 2015


World War I and the Death of Empires Conference

The historical and literary legacy of World War I is the focus of the Death of Empires Conference scheduled for September 18-19, 2015, at Daemen College (4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY).

The Death of Empires Conference is presented by the Departments of English; History & Political Science; and Visual & Performing Arts at Daemen College. The conference will bring together humanities scholars, humanities educators, and the general public to share research findings and explore the impact of the Great War on the home front and the battlefront, as well as the war's place in public memory. Members of the general public and students are invited to attend the academic sessions along with the related performances and exhibits, which examine the meaning and legacy of World War I through a variety of academic disciplines and media. All events are free and open to the public.

Dog made of foil from cigarette packets in France during World War I
by Private William Farrar. Farrar served in the West Yorkshire Regiment of 
the British army and was killed in fighting in 1916.
(Collection of Dr. Robert Waterhouse)

Planned to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the war, the conference features humanities-based academic and artistic presentations that consider the pivotal role of World I in bringing about the death of empires and the creation of a new world order. Sometimes described as the first "modern war," World War I erased distinctions between "war front" and "home front," amplified ethnic tensions, and signaled the limits of imperial power in ways that continue to resonate today. 

Trench warfare. (Photo courtesy of Zenon Harasym)

The Death of Empires Conference includes five components:  I. Research Presentations by American and international scholars organized into panel sessions; II. "The Collapse of Empires: The View from Warsaw (Poland) During World War I," conference keynote address by Dr. Robert Blobaum; III. "The Rose that Grows in No Man's Land," a theatrical reading of women's wartime writing by Buffalo's Red Thread Theatre Company; IV. "Little Empires: Toy Soldiers during the Great War, 1914-1918," an exhibit of military-themed toys; and V. Nikifor Exhibit: artworks by "primitive" artist Nikifor Krynicki (1895-1968) from the Lemko region of Poland. (Keep reading for more details about each part of the conference.)

* * *

"Changes to Europe After World War I," from "40 Maps that Explain World War I"

I. RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS BY AMERICAN AND INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS Saturday, September 19. Papers are organized into four panel sessions (8:15-10:00am, 10:15-12:00, 2:30-4:00pm, and 4:15-5:45pm) in RIC 120 (Research and Information Commons.)

Session 1: The Great War and Historical Memory (8:15-10:00, RIC 120)
  • Keeping the Lost Empire Alive in Nazi Germany (Willeke Sandler, Loyola University)
  • Gun Smoke in Lettow’s Jungle: German East Africa Between the Wars (Thomas Pennington, New York University)
  • Remembering an Ottoman War: The Great War and the ‘Other’ in Modern Turkey (Pheroze Unwalla, York University) 
    • Chair & Comment by Penny Messinger (Daemen College)
Session 2: The War at Home: British and American Women’s World War I Fiction (10:15-12:00, RIC 120) 
  • Larsen’s Brian Redfield: The African American War Veteran in Passing (Jennifer Haytock, College at Brockport, SUNY) 
  • ‘Food is a Weapon’: From Farming to Fighting in Willa Cather’s One of Ours (Stacy Hubbard, University at Buffalo, SUNY) 
  • ‘Not intimate enough a contact’: Sensory Experience in The Return of the Soldier (Hannah Fogerty, University at Buffalo, SUNY) 
  • ‘This Is Not Fanciful’: Gertrude Stein’s Ambulance Work in the Great War (Christopher Leslie, New York University)  
    •  Chair & Comment by Charlie Wesley (Daemen College)
Session 3: Untold Stories of an Empire in Peril: Belgium and Its Colony during World War I (2:30-4:00, RIC 120)
  • Untold Stories: Invading Homes. Billeting in Belgium’s Etappengebiet (1914-1918). A Story of Living in Harmony? (Sebastiaan Vanderbogaerde, Ghent University)
  • ‘We did not go to war for Congo, but for Belgium’. Congolese Soldiers and Carriers facing the First World War (Enika Ngongo, Université Saint-Louis-Bruxelles)
  • Untold stories: Cohabitating with the Allies. Canadian troops on the Ypres Salient (1915-1918) (Nathalie Tousignant, Université Saint-Louis-Bruxelles) 
    • Chair & Comment by Andrew Kier Wise (Daemen College)
Session 4: The Birth of a New World Order (4:15-5:45, RIC 120)
  • Gender and Nation or Nation and Gender? Wincenta Tarnawska as a Case Study from the Periphery of World War I (Tomasz Pudłocki, Jagiellonian University)
  • From Buffalo to Moscow: Anna and Boris Reinstein and the Socialist Response to the First World War (Penny Messinger and Andrew Kier Wise, Daemen College)
  • A Document to End all Freedom of Movement: World War I and the Birth of the Modern Passport System (Yaron Jean, University of Haifa) 
    • Chair & Comment by Hamish Dalley (Daemen College)

"European Powers Carve Up Africa," from "40 Maps that Explain World War I"

 *   *   *

II.  DR. ROBERT BLOBAUM, "THE COLLAPSE OF EMPIRES:  THE VIEW FROM WARSAW (POLAND) DURING WORLD WAR I," conference keynote address. Saturday, September 19, 1:00-2:15pm (Social Room, Wick Center)
  • Dr Robert Blobaum, a noted historian with expertise in the history of Poland and Eastern Europe, will deliver the keynote address for the conference, "The Collapse of Empires: The View from Warsaw (Poland) during World War I," based on research for his forthcoming book manuscript. Dr. Blobaum is Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of History at West Virginia University.

Keynote speaker Dr. Robert Blobaum

In his lecture, Dr. Blobaum will discuss the collapse of first Russian and then German imperial power in 1915 and 1918 respectively from the perspective of the Warsaw street. He will also address the existential catastrophe that confronted Warsaw's resident population as a consequence of the war between the empires that had dominated Poland since the partitions. In the process Professor Blobaum will highlight other important themes, including the continuity of local Polish and Jewish elites in the war's political transitions, the role of women on the Warsaw home front, and how the Great War has figured in memory and memorialization of the war in the Polish capital.

Robert Blobaum is the Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of Modern European History at West Virginia University. He has published several books and dozens of articles on the history of Poland in the twentieth century, including Rewolucja: Russian Poland, 1904-1907 (Cornell University Press, 1995), winner of the Oskar Halecki Prize for the best book on Polish history published in that year. His current book project explores everyday life in Warsaw during the First World War.

*   *   *

III. "THE ROSE THAT GROWS IN NO MAN'S LAND," a theatrical reading of women's wartime writing by Buffalo's Red Thread Theatre Company. Saturday, September 19, 7:30-8:30pm (Alumni Lounge, Wick Center)

JOSEPHINE HOGAN, LAURA MIKOLAJCZYK and JESSICA WEGRZYN present a staged reading of letters and diary entries by women during World War One.

L-R: Jessica Wegrzyn, Laura Mikolajczyk, and Josephine  Hogan

Nurses, workers, mothers, wives and sweethearts documented The Great War on the home front, in the hospitals of France, and in ships at sea. These letters and diaries provide a commentary both on "the war to end all wars" and on the ways in which the roles and rights of women became transformed between 1914 and 1918.
"....People pooh poohed us and said things like: 'Oh, you'll never be used, you know. The Red Cross will never be used.'"
- Gladys Pole, VAD
"At midnight, the first shell came over us with a shriek....We got a motor ambulance and packed in 20 men. We told them to go as far as the bridge and send it back for us. It never came."
- Sarah MacNaughton, nurse and novelist, 1914

(Nettie) Eurice Trax served with the Army Nurse Corps, part of the the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) presence in France. She described her wartime experiences in a letter to her mother: 

Excerpt from undated letter from (Nettie) Eurice Trax to her mother. Trax's wartime correspondence is included in the WWI Veteran's History Project of the U.S. Library of Congress.
Nettie Eurice Trax (whose letter is quoted above) was a nurse with the Army Nurse Corps and worked at the US Army Base Hospital 18. (Group photo of hospital staff from the Nettie Eurith Trax Collection, Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center of the U.S. Library of Congress)

*   *   *
IV. "Little Empires: Toy Soldiers during the Great War, 1914-1918," an exhibit of antique military-themed toys, on display in the Research and Information Commons (RIC), from September 8 to September 30.  

This collection of toy soldiers made in Germany, Britain, France and the USA during World War I explores ways in which toy manufacturers represented the war to children on the home front.  The exhibit features toys from the private collection of Dr. Robert Waterhouse.

Prussian officer (manufactured by Heyde of Dresden), collection of Dr. Robert Waterhouse

 *   *   *
V. The Nikifor Exhibit: Paintings by "primitive" artist Nikifor Krynicki (1895-1968)

Conference attendees are invited to visit the exhibit of 50 artworks by Nikifor (also known as Epifaniy Drovnyak, Epifaniusz Drowniak, or Nikifor Krynicki), from the spa town of Krynica in the Lemko region of southeastern Poland. This exhibit has been arranged in conjunction with the conference. The exhibition of 50 watercolors will open on September 10 and continue until October 2 (Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00) at the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Gallery, Haberman Gacioch Arts Center at Daemen College. Conference attendees are invited to visit the exhibit on September 18, from 3:00-5:00pm. The exhibit will also open for viewing on Saturday, September 19. 

Nikifor Krynicki was a self-taught artist whose works are regarded as some of the finest examples of naïve (primitive) art of the twentieth century. Nikifor was greatly affected by World War I, which reshaped the political map in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire where he was born. Professor Jacek Frączak (Missouri State University) organized the exhibition, which includes artworks from his family's private collection and the Alfons Karny Museum of Sculpture in Białystok, Poland. This exhibit at Daemen is the first time this collection has been exhibited in the United States; after leaving Daemen, the collection will travel to the Polish Museum of America in Chicago.

Nikifor Krynicki's Nikifor on a Walk 
(undated) watercolor. Image courtesy of Jacek Frączak

Nikifor Krynicki, Two-part Painting: Scenes in a Church (undated watercolor)
Image courtesy of Jacek Frączak

*   *   *


** The conference and exhibition organizers gratefully acknowledge the financial support that has made our events possible. Financial sponsorship for the conference and the Nikifor exhibit has been provided by Collegiate Village, with additional support by the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo. We also deeply appreciate the support and assistance provided by Ms. Pat Smith of the Office of Institutional Advancement.

The research presentations and Dr. Blobaum's keynote address are presented by the Department of English and the Department of History & Political Science. The Nikifor exhibition is presented by Daemen's Polish Studies Program and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. The Red Thread Theatre reading and the "Little Empires" toy exhibit are presented by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

The conference organizing committee includes Dr. Andrew Wise and Dr. Penny Messinger from Daemen's History & Political Science Department; Dr. Hamish Dalley and Dr. Nancy Marck from the English Department; Dr. Robert Waterhouse of the Visual and Performing Arts Department; and Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki of of Jagiellonian University (Kracow, Poland), who is joining the History & Political Science Department for the Fall 2015 semester as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence.

** For more information about the conference or any of the events, please write to **

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Alumna Profile: Kaleigh Ratliff Pursues Graduate Work in Museum Studies at The George Washington University

Kaleigh Ratliff (B.A., History & Government, 2013) traveled to Przemyśl, Poland, in March 2013 and again in July 2013 with a student exchange group from Daemen. Kaleigh's work in Poland illustrated her interest in extending her Daemen education beyond the classroom.  She helped put in place the digital humanities project that will preserve images and data from the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl. This work continues today, with seven Daemen students travelling to Poland in June/July 2015.

In addition to her major in History & Government, Kaleigh completed a minor in Public History and had internships at the Smithsonian Institution (through the Washington Internship Institute, for which she was a Daemen Student Ambassador) and at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.

To learn more about the Polish Studies Program and Daemen's study abroad program in Poland, contact Dr. Andrew Kier Wise ( .  If you are interested in learning more about Daemen's Public History minor, contact Dr. Penny Messinger ( 

Kaleigh now attends graduate school at G.W.
Kaleigh recently provided us with this update about her career, in which she reflects back on her time at Daemen:
My life after Daemen has been exciting and productive. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel that I call school, and I am almost ready to begin my career as a Collections Manager. 
After I traveled to Poland with Dr. Wise and the rest of the Daemen crew in the summer of 2013, my intention was to go straight on to graduate school. Unfortunately, that did not happen. With an unexpected gap year ahead of me, I decided to join AmeriCorps, volunteering at the Essex County Historical Society / Adirondack History Museum. I served for a year, gaining both volunteer and museum experience. I worked on the development of exhibits and programs, I made efforts to organize and inventory the archives, and I worked as a receptionist. I was also able to serve the greater community, working at surrounding AmeriCorps events. My time with AmeriCorps was a great resume builder! 
While volunteering, I applied to graduate schools for a second time. Thankfully I was accepted into the MA Museum Studies program at the George Washington University. In the fall of 2014 I moved to Maryland and began the next stage of my education. I am currently beginning my second and final year in the program. I have completed my two required internships, one with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the other with the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Along with my concentration in Collections Management, I have been studying the Holocaust and WWII. My classes are amazing and the professors are even better. This program has been a perfect fit for me. I love D.C. and the greater area, and I plan to stay here permanently. 
I honestly believe that without my experience in Poland and my AmeriCorps service I would not have been accepted into graduate school. Programs are competitive and many applicants are almost identical. It is important to situate yourself apart from the rest. Be conscious about your resume and diversify your experience. My resume to-do-list includes becoming a notary and getting my CDL license. It sounds strange, but they could be useful to an employer. 
I am looking forward to graduating and starting my career. I feel prepared and encouraged for what the future holds, largely due to my Daemen education.
Kaleigh Ratliff

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Why Are Debates Important in the Presidential Nominating Process?

Republican candidates debate on August 6

By Dr. Jay Wendland, Assistant Professor of Political Science 

Most elections scholars are in agreement that presidential debates do little to get people to come out and vote if they were not already planning on voting. They also agree that debates do little to change people’s minds about who they were already planning on voting for. Rather, debates appear to reinforce the choices voters have already made. However, at the presidential nominating stage, debates become much more important. At the nomination stage we see an intraparty debate rather than an interparty debate. Republicans are taking on other Republicans and Democrats are taking on fellow Democrats. This means that they cannot simply rely on their partisan preferences to decide how they should vote. Many Americans will vote based on their own personal party identification. Nominating contests make this impossible, so American voters need to find another way to determine how to cast their ballot. This is why debates are a great venue for voter learning. Debates allow voters to view all of the candidates running for nomination on one stage, answering questions about their beliefs, policy stances, and experience. 

On August 6, roughly 16 percent of American households tuned in to watch the first Republican debate on Fox News Channel. While this may not seem like a large percentage, nomination debates generally draw a crowd of roughly 5 percent of American households and Fox News usually attracts between 1 and 2 percent of American households on an average night. So, overall, this debate drew in a large audience. While some of these viewers were certainly tuning in to see what Donald Trump would say and how he would behave in a debate setting, they still tuned in and heard what the other candidates had to say. Tuning in and listening to what candidates have to say is a great way for voters to learn about the current candidates running for office. Right now, 17 Republicans are running for their party’s nomination. If you are trying to decide which of these 17 candidates to vote for, finding time to do your own research into all of them can seem overwhelming. Tuning in to a debate allows you to view all of the candidates and hear where they stand on the issues you care about. 

Now, for this first debate, if you wanted to learn about all 17 candidates you would have needed to watch two debates.  Because of the large number of candidates running, Fox News decided to hold two debates: one during primetime and one a few hours earlier (dubbed by media pundits as the ‘happy hour debate’). The primetime debate featured the top 10 candidates according to national poll averages and included: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. The Happy Hour debate featured the remaining candidates and included: Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, James Gilmore, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and George Pataki. In this instance, learning about all 17 candidates required a bigger time commitment than usual, but it was still an excellent opportunity for voters to get a glimpse of all candidates running for the Republican nomination. 

I would encourage everyone to tune in to the remaining debates—both Republican and Democratic—in an effort to continue learning about the potential nominees. It is important to tune in to both parties’ debates, as it is important to be informed on all candidates running for president. One of the two nominees will become the next president and lead the United States for the next four years. For those interested in tuning in to the remaining debates, here is when they will be airing (note: all start times are still to be determined):

Republican Debates:                       Democratic Debates:
September 16                                     October 13
October 28                                          November 14
November*                                          December 19
December 15                                      January 17
December 19                                      February*
January*                                              March*
February 6
February 13
February 26
March 10                        *Debate sponsor has not yet named a specific date

Saturday, May 2, 2015

AAUW Student Organization News

L-R: Jessica Mark, Natalie Ennis, Dior Manning, Dr. Penny Messinger, Ehlimana Imamovic, and Sonam Sherpa at the AAUW-NYS Convention on April 18, 2015

Daemen's new American Association of University Women (AAUW) Student Organization has had a busy and productive year. In fall 2014, AAUW student leaders worked on bylaws and plans for programs, setting the stage for a busy spring semester. In February, the college's Student Association (SA) granted official recognition to the AAUW Student Organization (an application for recognition by the national AAUW is pending). Members of our AAUW affiliate have held a number of successful on-campus events this semester, and were also active in some of the many events sponsored by the AAUW Buffalo chapter over the past year. Here are some of the highlights:

AAUW's International Women's Day: "Declaring Equality: Renewing a Legacy" (March 8)

Dior Manning (President of Daemen's AAUW Student Organization, at left )
and AAUW member Keyla Marte (4th from left) pose with Nadia Shahram,
Dr. Melinda Grube, and Coline Jenkins.

Dior Manning (President of Daemen's AAUW Student Organization), Keyla Marte (AAUW member and president of Daemen's Sister-2-Sister organization), and Dr. Penny Messinger attended the AAUW Buffalo Chapter's program to commemorate International Women's Day on March 8.

The program featured a conversation about women's rights--past and present--between Nadia Shahram and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (represented by historical reenactor Dr. Melinda Grube). Shahram is a Buffalo attorney and activist who advocates for Moslim women's rights; she is also president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Moslem Women. Shahram discussed women's rights as human rights and talked about the status and treatment of women in Iran and several other countries in the Middle East today. Melinda Grube, who is an adjunct professor of history at Cayuga Community College, appeared in costume as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organizer of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and a major figure in the American woman's rights movement of the 19th century.

Women's History Month @ Daemen

The AAUW held and co-sponsored several events for Women's History Month, supporting the Women's Studies Program's active Women's History Month program. March is Women's History Month, but this year's program began in February and extended into late April.

On February 25, the AAUW sponsored a screening of Miss Representation, a documentary film that connects the distorted portrayal of women in the media with women's under-representation in political institutions.

The theme of women's empowerment continued during March with an event centering on the documentary, Girl Rising on March 4 (co-sponored by the AAUW and Sister-2-Sister). Girl Rising emphasizes the transformative impact of educating girls to end poverty. The two groups (AAUW & Sister-2-Sister) also collaborated on a Women on the Move! TGIF event held on campus on March 6.

Continuing with analysis of women's image in the media, the club held a well-attended forum on "Women's Sexuality in the Media" on March 18.

On April 2, the AAUW co-sponsored the Gender & Careers Panel Discussion/Mixer event (held in conjunction with the Daemen College/Rosary Hill Alumni Association, the Eaglette faculty women's group, and the Women's Studies Program). You can read more about this event at the story on the H&P Departmental blog linked here. The event was also marked by the conferral of the SOS Award, given to recognize female students who have demonstrated leadership on behalf of women. This is a new award (initiated 2015). At the event, Dr. Shirley Peterson, Dean of Arts & Sciences, conferred the SOS Award on behalf of the Eaglettes to two students who have distinguished themselves through campus leadership: Dior Manning and Annie Marie Rose. 

L-R: Dr. Penny Messinger, Dior Manning, Annie Marie Rose, 
and Dr. Shirley Peterson. 
Manning and Rose received the SOS Award
Students from the club staffed an informational table before the panel discussion and networked with members of the alumnae panel during the mixer.

L-R: Jessica Mark (AAUW VP for Programs), Stephanie Foreman 
(Daemen '06, alumni panel member), Emily Kraft (AAUW member), 
and Dr. Penny Messinger at the mixer.

The AAUW also collaborated on two successful events held in mid-April: the AAUW-NYS Convention and a bus trip to Seneca Falls (April 19).

@ the AAUW-NYS Convention

This year's AAUW-NYS Convention was held on Grand Island on April 18. Five students from Daemen attended the convention at sessions that comprised the Student Leadership Track.

Daemen students met Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul at the AAUW-NYS convention. 
(L-R): Ehlimana Imamovic, Dior Manning, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, 
Natalie Ennis, Sonam Sherpa, and Jessica Mark

Along with the keynote address by Dr. Donna Hernandez, President/CEO of the Buffalo Zoo, students met New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul after listening to her talk about the Women's Equality Agenda being considered by the NY State Legislature.

Students participated in workshop sessions on "Managing One's Digital Image," "Internships 101," and "Promoting Equality and Social Justice--Building your Career through Advocacy, Education, Philanthropy, and Research." They met student leaders from SUNY-Brockport and St. Bonventure University, and were able to meet and talk to state AAUW leaders in a networking session at the end of the day. 

"All in!" Jessica Mark (L) joins AAUW leaders, students from SUNY-Brockort, and AAUW college/university regional liaison Kimberly Pollard (3rd from left) in this group photo featured on the AAUW-NY facebook page as "the face of AAUW"

The final major event of the semester was an April 19 Field Trip to Seneca Falls, which was co-sponsored by the AAUW, the History & Government Club, and the Pre-Law Student Association. On April 19, the National Park Service held a "Find Your Park" Instameet event that we took part in. The group also visited several historic sites in Seneca Falls, with several students also entering photos in the "Selfies with Stanton" social media competition afterwards.

Daemen group members at the Women's Rights National Historical Park at Seneca Falls, NY

Daemen group in front, left, and center at the "Find Your Park" InstaMeet event. The bronze figures represent founders of the Woman's Rights Movement who participated in the 1848 convention

Are you interested in becoming part of the AAUW Student Organization? 

Membership in the AAUW Student Organization is open to all students at Daemen College (female and male). Daemen students are also eligible to become e-members of the national AAUW at no cost because Daemen has an institutional membership in the AAUW.
  • Learn more about the Daemen College AAAUW Student Organization at our website
  • Join the AAUW as a student member by filling out the form at this link    E-membership is free for Daemen students and includes one-year free membership after graduation
  • Or -- contact Dr. Penny Messinger, faculty advisor for the club and AAUW liaison for Daemen College at pmessing @