Department of History
Graduate Newsletter
Happenings in the History Department
Teaching Advanced History and Government Graduate Certificate 
In the fall of 2019, the Department of History launched a new Certificate Program in conjunction with the Departments of Political Science and Education, Teaching Advanced History and Government—geared towards current and prospective secondary school teachers working with an AP or Honors Social Studies Curriculum. With the increased popularity of Advanced Placement and Honors courses at the high school level, a growing number of secondary school teachers find themselves teaching courses that the College Board deems comparable to college level courses. This graduate certificate gives our students the scholarly training that will enable them to excel in their own classrooms.
Goodbye Comprehensive Exams, Hello Writing History

Though comprehensive examinations served as a graduate requirement and rite of passage for years, they are soon to be a thing of the past. The graduate cohort who began the master’s program in the fall of 2020 will not take the “comps” in their final semester. Instead, they will enroll in a new seminar entitled “Writing History” in their final spring semester. Writing History will allow masters students to engage in substantive research and produce an article-length paper or similar product of original scholarship on a topic of their choosing. While students will work with their advisors in developing the sources and medium for this project, they will complete the work under the supervision of an instructor of record. The seminar, to be offered for the first time in the spring of 2022, will give students the chance to provide and receive constructive peer feedback on projects, and it will bookend their scholarly training, which began with Theory and Methods.
Graduate Writing Fellows

In 2020, the Department of History launched a new program designed to give select graduate students who are interested in pursuing academic careers the opportunity to work with undergraduates. This program connects undergraduate students who are looking for discipline-specific guidance on history papers with two graduate writing fellows who serve as tutors at any stage in the writing process. Faculty members selected Jamie Hassett ’21 MA and Lori Wysong ’21 MA, as our inaugural Graduate Writing Fellows. Beginning in the spring of 2020, Hassett and Wysong offered invaluable guidance to our undergraduates while gaining great pedagogical experience. Although in-person tutoring sessions shifted online as the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted the normal order of things everywhere, the program continued to flourish. The Graduate Writing Fellows tutored dozens of undergraduate students in the spring and fall semesters of 2020 and received rave reviews!
Faculty Highlights
National Historic Publications and Records Commission Grant for the Last Seen Project
Judith Giesberg, PhD, History professor and the Robert M. Birmingham Chair in the Humanities, continues her extraordinary work as a scholar and a teacher. This summer, Dr. Giesberg received a $100,000 grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission for their Publishing Historical Records in Documentary Editions Program. This grant will allow continued progress on the exceptional Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery Project.

Over the last few years, Villanova master's students in History have played a critical role in the Last Seen project. Our graduate students have an unparalleled opportunity to engage history, gain digital experience, and witness the pervasive power of public history by working on these ads under the direction of Dr. Giesberg. Using Information Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves, this project is working to recover the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. This project includes the ongoing digital project, a 2019 youth art competition, and a dramatic performance. The grant secured by Dr. Giesberg has allowed her to hire Signe Fourmy, PhD, as the Director of Research and Analysis. Kristin Bridges ’21 MA serves as the Graduate Assistant for the project.

The Department of History Welcomes Dr. Eliza Gettel
The Department of History is delighted to welcome Eliza Gettel, PhD, who received her doctorate in Ancient History from Harvard University. Dr. Gettel is a historian of the ancient Mediterranean, especially Greek and Roman society. She joined the Villanova History faculty in January 2020, after spending fall 2019 on research fellowship in Munich, Germany, working on her current monograph project. It investigates how ancient Greeks living within the Roman Empire thought about their place in this massive state with the models available to them in the premodern Mediterranean. Particularly, her book explores how Greeks drew on local federal state models to negotiate the balance of power in the sort of state we now call an empire. Her previous publications have addressed individuals displaced within the ancient Mediterranean and intersections between classical and early anthropological scholarship. She has received several national and international fellowships for her past and present research, including from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the Social Science Research Council, and US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Dr. Gettel also has a deep interest in the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean. In addition to research specialties in epigraphy (inscriptions) and numismatics (coins), she has a master’s degree in social archaeology, and she has worked on archaeological projects in Turkey, Greece, and Jordan. Her love of archaeology often plays a part in her teaching. In her classes, Dr. Gettel seeks to introduce students to the great diversity of very real people who lived in the ancient Mediterranean thousands of years ago.
Professor Catherine Kerrison Retires
After 20 years at Villanova, Catherine Kerrison, PhD, is retiring at the end of the 2020 - 2021 academic year. Dr. Kerrison is the author of two scholarly prize-winning books: Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black in a Young America, and Claiming the Pen: Women and Intellectual Life in the Early American South. She has also published numerous scholarly articles. Dr. Kerrison has been an active member of the profession throughout her career. She earned several prestigious fellowships, served on the editorial board of an important journal in her field, and has been much in demand as a public speaker. Dr. Kerrison consistently worked to reach beyond the academic community with her scholarship.

Dr. Kerrison served as a much sought-after mentor to her students, many of whom have gone on to earn doctorates and garner success in academia and the field of public history. Students invariably left Dr. Kerrison’s courses with new insights about gender, race, early America and the Founders as well as heightened skills as writers. Dr. Kerrison taught at every level of the college curriculum and made a significant contribution to the development of the Gender and Women’s Studies program, serving as its director.

Dr. Kerrison’s ongoing career as a successful historian demonstrates that once the pen is claimed, it is rarely relinquished. While her friends, colleagues and students will miss her presence on Villanova’s campus deeply, Dr. Kerrison is not hanging up the pen—or more specifically the laptop—she claimed as a scholar. She has plans for another book and several essays. We all look forward to reading what comes from Dr. Kerrison’s next chapters.
The Passing of Professor Raymond “Ray” L. Cummings
It is with deep sadness that we share that Raymond “Ray” L. Cummings, a well-respected longtime faculty member in the Villanova Department of History, died on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at the age of 97. Ray was a true gentleman and welcomed all faculty and staff into the department with grace and a dry wit. He also so inspired one of his students, Albert Lepage ’69 CLAS, that Lepage went on to establish the Albert R. Lepage Endowed Professorship in History and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova.
New Faculty Books
Alumni News
Pursing their PhD
  • Madison Bastress ’19 MA began the PhD program in History at New York University in the fall of 2020.
  • Devin Creed ’19 MA began the PhD program in History at Duke University in the fall of 2020 after completing a Fulbright in India.
  • Colin Heatley ’20 MA began the PhD program in History at the University of Oregon in the fall of 2020.
  • Blake McGready ’18 MA began the PhD program in History at CUNY in the fall of 2020.
  • Moyra Schauffler ’20 MA began the PhD program in History at Pennsylvania State University in the fall of 2020.
  • Andrea Spencer ’19 MA began the PhD program in History at the University of Delaware in the fall of 2020.
  • Madeleine Stout ’19 MA began the PhD program in History at Florida State University in the fall of 2020.
Awards and Honors
  • Alexander Balawejder ’19 MA was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Slovakia. Alex was also selected as an alternate for the Boren Scholarship.
  • Devin Creed ’19 MA was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in India.
  • Elliot Drago ’09 MA was awarded the “Educator of the Year Award” by the National History Day Competition in 2020.
  • Kyle Schrader ’19 Certificate published his paper, "Queering an Icon: The Legend of Zelda and Inclusive Diversity," in the 2020 online edition of CONCEPT.
Where are they Now?
Tom Foley ’13 MA earned a PhD from Georgetown University in 2019 after earning his masters degree at Villanova. Currently, he serves as Deputy Policy Director at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. He and his wife Emily are the proud parents of three-year old Ella and one-year old Leo who as Tom says, “are funny and kind, all we could ask for, to be sure.”
Theresa Altieri Taplin ’12 MA began her professional career as the Archivist and Collections Manager at The Union League Legacy Foundation in Philadelphia. In this role she oversaw collections of art, archives, manuscripts and artifacts related to the United States Civil War and The Union League of Philadelphia. In 2019, she became the Registrar at the National Constitution Center, and now works with museums, archives and historical associations across the country to display historic artifacts in the NCC’s various exhibitions. She currently lives with her husband Steve, her son Walter, her dog Pickles and fish Paul.
Graduate Student News
Kimberly Webb ’21 MA published, “Mothers, Children, and Servants: Gender, Social Power, and Domestic Service in Trecento and Quattrocento Tuscany,” in the 2020 online edition of Concepts.

Thomas Harvell-DeGolier ’21 MA was the runner-up for two prizes at the University of Alabama’s Graduate History Association Conference on Power and Struggle in 2020. His paper, “From Guajira to Florida: International Narcotics Trafficking, the Cold War, and US-Colombian Relations during the 1970s," was the runner up for the Best Paper Overall and runner up for the Best Paper by a member of Phi Alpha Theta. Thomas’ accomplishment is especially impressive given that the University of Alabama is a PhD granting institution and the winners in both prize categories were doctoral students.

Kyle Scripko ’21 MA won the award for the best graduate student paper at the annual Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference in March 2020. His paper was entitled, “Burning with the Fire of Martyrdom: Christian Identity and the Martyrs of Córdoba.” Kyle also published his paper in the 2020 online edition of CONCEPT.
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