About The Historians’ Notebook

October 14th, 2010 by admin

History is complicated. Not only is the past “a foreign country” where the people are different from us, but history itself is a reworking of the past through the present. Put another way, history is not so much the collection of things that happened once, it is a reflection of what we, writing today, think about those things.

Is history all about dead white men?  Is it filled exclusively with the events that populate high school textbooks and standardized tests?   Is it “HIS-story” or are women included too? Most of us probably brushed our teeth this morning. Is that history? It is if we are writing about the evolution of oral hygiene, fashion, or aesthetics. A factory girl named Mary Bean died during a botched abortion in Saco, Maine back in 1850. Does Mary represent “history?” She certainly does if you are interested in ideas about health, gender, law, or nineteenth century crime writing. What about tourism? Is that worthy of study? It could be if you are concerned about the evolution of economics, the politics of leisure, or even the creation of identities.  A railway strike in Mexico?  Do you care about gender, memory, labor politics, social class?

In this blog, the faculty of the University of New England History Department will write about history in all its many guises. We’ll draw your attention to significant history-related news, bring you up to date about what we’re working on, muse about the nature of history, and maybe even let you know what we’re up to when out “in the field.”

Pay attention to this space and you will get some insight into the nature of historical scholarship, a glance into the historians’ notebook.


Robert Alegre, Jean Murachanian, Elizabeth De Wolfe, Eric Zuelow, and Paul Burlin provide instruction in Latin American, European, American, and Art history at UNE.

Elizabeth De Wolfe (Department Chair, Professor of American History and Women’s Studies): Professor De Wolfe teaches courses that explore topics as diverse as women’s history, communes and utopias, and 19th-century bestsellers. In her classes, she provides a hands-on historical experience using old diaries, letters, and other historic documents. In studying the words of unremembered Americans, De Wolfe aims to show students how history happens in both the big events and the small matters of every day life. De Wolfe’s interests include 19th-century women’s history, popular print culture, and American communal groups. She is author of four books, including the award winning The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories (Kent State, 2007) and Shaking the Faith: Women, Family, and Mary Marshall Dyer’s Anti-Shaker Campaign, 1815-1867 (Palgrave 2002).

Paul Burlin (American History): Professor Burlin teaches a range of classes covering the full scope of American history, as well as upper-division courses on special topics such as the life, work, and times of George Orwell. Professor Burlin’s specialty is 19th-century American diplomatic history. He is the author of Imperial Maine and Hawai’i: Interpretative Essays in the History of Nineteenth Century American Expansion (Lexington, 2006). Burlin continues his research into the role of 19th century American missionaries in Hawai’i and is looking into a new book project that connects key members of the late 19th and early 20th century American foreign policy elite to interest in Brazil.

Robert Alegre (Latin American History): Professor Alegre offers courses covering rebellion and revolution, slavery, popular culture and women’s history. Alegre creates a dynamic class environment by encouraging conversation and debate among students. In the process, students learn to think critically and gain self-confidence. Professor Alegre is a specialist in Latin American history and is currently writing a book on the Mexican railway movement. He has traveled widely in Chile and Mexico, where he lived as a Fulbright-Hays scholar.  He looks forward to leading students on study abroad trips. His book manuscript, tentatively entitled Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico: Gender, Class, and Memory, is currently under review.

Eric G.E. Zuelow (European History): Professor Zuelow teaches classes that address the course of European history as well as special topics including the Holocaust, British and Irish history, the development of modern tourism, and the challenges associated with telling stories about the past on film, in print, and in stone.  He is particularly anxious to help students see the connections between seemingly unrelated historical developments. Professor Zuelow publishes extensively on questions of national identity in the British Isles.  He is author of the award winning book Making Ireland Irish: Tourism and National Identity since the Irish Civil War (Syracuse, 2009), editor of Touring Beyond the Nation: A Transnational Approach to European Tourism (Ashgate, 2011), and is co-editor of Nationalism in a Global Era: The Persistence of Nations (Routledge, 2007).

Jean Murachanian (Art History): Professor Murachanian teaches a range of courses in Art History, emphasizing the methodological approaches to studying art history and encouraging critical examination of scholarly readings.  Her students learn to look intently and analyze the wealth of information contained within visual imagery. Professor Murachanian’s scholarly interests include European Modernism, Museum Studies, Visual Culture, Trauma Theory, Diaspora Studies, and Armenian Studies.  She has published an article, “Léon Tutundjian: TRAuma in Art” in The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies (Transactions Publishers 2007) and is currently writing a thematic book that investigates the artistic output of Tutundjian, an Armenian Genocide survivor who lived and worked in Paris.