Professor Iraj Bashiri comes to us from the University’s Institute of Linguistics, English as a Second Language, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. He received his Ph.D. in Iranian Linguistics (University of Michigan) in 1972 and has taught at the University of Minnesota ever since. Bashiri’s scholarship, published in both English and Persian, is wide-ranging and internationally known. His early work included textbooks on the Persian language and Persian syntax, and several works of literary criticism. Bashiri has written about the renowned Iranian author Sadeq Hedayat, and he has published on the lives and works of medieval Muslim philosophers. Bashiri is currently working on a book tentatively titled “The Roots of Conflict between Islam and the West: Interplay of Faith and Reason.” The study examines the distinctive conceptions of “faith” and “reason” and the relationship between theology and philosophy in pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran.
In 1980, Bashiri received the CLA Distinguished Teacher Award for his numerous language and literature classes, and he has recently taught classes with an historical focus, including “Islam and the West” and “Ancient Iran.” He intends to develop a course on the history and culture of the Silk Road.
Mai Na Lee
Professor Mai Na Lee is a pioneer in researching and writing Hmong history, with a focus on the global Hmong diaspora from the late 19th century to the present. Her dissertation, “The Dream of the Hmong Kingdom: Resistance, Collaboration, and Legitimation Under French Colonialism, 1893-1955” (‘05, University of Wisconsin), examines the political strategies of Hmong leaders within colonial Indochina and in exile. These leaders included both secular political brokers who worked with colonial authorities, as well as messianic leaders who claimed an independent kingdom on behalf of the Hmong. Lee conducted hundreds of oral histories of Hmong leaders in France, Thailand, and the United States, and her work creatively engages the role of history and memory in identity formation and community cohesion. She has published a number of articles and is currently transforming her dissertation into a book.
While on a postdoctoral fellowship here at the U, Lee taught popular courses to undergraduates, including “History of Southeast Asia,” a freshman seminar on “The Hmong American Experience,” and “Hmong History Across the Globe.” Lee will be joining the department as an Assistant Professor this fall.
Professor Sarah-Jane Mathieu has a joint Ph.D. in history and African American studies (‘01, Yale), and she was hired away from a joint appointment in the History Department and Program in African American Studies at Princeton University, where she has been teaching modern American and African American history. Mathieu’s book-in-progress, “North of the Color Line: Race and the Making of Transnational Black Radicalism in Canada, 1870-1955,” examines the social and political impact of African American and West Indian sleeping car porters in Canada. It shows how African American and West Indian workers who migrated to Canada struggled against Jim Crow policies that marginalized and exploited black workers. Mathieu’s study brings to life the intricate alliances of black activism that led to a transnational model of black labor activism in Canada and the United States.
Mathieu will offer innovative courses in 19th- and 20th- century history that include “The Black Atlantic World: Black Encounters with Europe, Asia, and the Americas,” “Race and Sport,” and “Race, Space, and Place in American Cities, 1945-1995.”
Professor Susanna Blumenthal (J.D., ‘96, Ph.D., ‘01, Yale) was hired by the Law School with the arrangement of teaching courses regularly in the history department as well. Together with Professor Barbara Welke, Blumenthal is building a new J.D. / Ph. D. in law and history.
Her dissertation, “Law and the Modern Mind: The Problem of Consciousness in American Legal History, 1800-1930”, received the George Washington Eggleston Historical Prize for the best dissertation in American History. Blumenthal is transforming the dissertation into a book that focuses on the role of law in the construction of ideas about human ability and moral responsibility in nineteenth-century America. Judges, lawyers, and jurists participated in a transatlantic debate about the bounds of human freedom and responsibility. Articles related to her research have appeared in the Law and History Review (2007) and the Harvard Law Review (2006).
Blumenthal is prepared to teach courses on “American Legal History” and “Criminal Law” as well as seminars on “The Concept of the Person,” “Legal Personhood and Legal Reasoning” and “Cognitive Theory.”
Until this fall, Regina Kunzel (Ph.D., ‘90, Yale) was the Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr. Professor of History and Department Chair at Williams College. She was hired by the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and will be an adjunct in the History Department. Kunzel comes to the University with a national reputation as a scholar of gender and sexuality in the Modern United States. Her first book, Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993) is a social and cultural history of three groups of women and their interactions with each other. Kunzel shows how evangelical reformers regarded unwed mothers as fallen sisters to be saved, while a new generation of social workers viewed them as problem girls to be treated. Meanwhile, the unmarried mothers themselves struggled with those who sought to reform them. Kunzel’s book demonstrates the complex interplay of gender, benevolence, and professionalization in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.
Kunzel is currently researching sexual cultures in prisons in the United States, raising important questions about the conceptual categories of sexual behavior and identity. She has published numerous articles and was the guest editor of The Queer Issue: New Visions of America’s Lesbian and Gay Past, a special issue of the Radical History Review. Professor Kunzel teaches a wide range of courses on gender and social and cultural history in 20th-century America.
Professor Nabil Matar (Ph.D., ‘76, University of Cambridge) is an adjunct professor in History with an interest in 16th- and 17th-century interactions between Europe, especially England, and the world of Islam. Matar was hired away from the Florida Institute of Technology as part of the U’s recent Presidential Initiative on Arts and Humanities. His tenure line will be in the Department of English, but we are fortunate to have Matar teach the undergraduate survey on “Western Civilization” for the History Department.
Among Matar’s publications are Britain and Barbary: 1589-1689 (University Press of Florida, 2005) and Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia University Press, 1999).
Karen Painter (Ph.D., ‘96 in Music, Columbia) is a recent hire in the Music Department who will also teach courses in History. Her scholarly interests focus on the history of Austrian and German musicology, aesthetics, and politics. Painter’s book, Symphonic Aspirations: Music and Politics in Austria and Germany from the Fin-de-siècle to the Third Reich, will be published by Harvard University Press this year. Painter charts the evolution of the ideas and language of music critics and commentators from about 1900 through World War I and then the Third Reich, and she traces the influence of politics on the world of music. Painter has published several book chapters and articles in leading U.S. and German journals of musicology, and she co-edited Late Thoughts: Reflections on Artists and Composers at Work (Getty Research Institute, 2006) and Mahler and His World (Princeton, 2001).
Painter has been teaching popular courses in Harvard’s Music Department, and in the spring semester she’ll be teaching a course called “Music and the Arts in Europe around 1900.”