NEH Summer Scholars

1) Rachel Batch is an Associate Professor of History at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and teaches courses in modern U.S. history of labor, working-class communities, and immigration. She received her Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her current research focuses on Croatian Americans during the middle decades of the 20th century and how transnational networks shaped their class-based activism and ethnic mobilizations for economic justice “at home” in the U.S. and political freedom abroad in the former Yugoslavia.


2) Nancy K. Berlage is Assistant Professor of History and Public History at Texas State University. She obtained her PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Most recently she served as Chief Editor and Senior Historian to the Secretary of Defense and is co-author of Pentagon 9/11, which drew extensively on oral histories of the participants and victims.  Her NEH project examines the intersections between state regime change and shifting constructions of identity and memory. Her research focuses on a Hungarian émigré, who became an American diplomat during the Cold War and cracked the coded diary, which ultimately led to the definitive identification of Josef Mengele’s remains. She is also designing a graduate course on “Memory,” which draws on oral history methods, memory studies, and immigration history.


3) Rebecca M. Chory, Ph.D., has spent 14 years in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University, achieving the rank of Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. In August she will join the College of Business at Frostburg State University as a faculty member in the Department of Management where she will continue to study organizational leadership, power, and ethics. Pursuant to the goal of the Institute concerning the extent to which institutions helped immigrants cope with challenges and connect with their homelands, Dr. Chory will research how the boardinghouse  functioned as a community of support that helped Hungarian immigrants deal with the horrors of the mines, mills, and factories and connected them to those who stayed behind. She will study the informal leaders who emerged from their ranks, particularly, the star boarders. Dr. Chory will also examine the American public’s fascination with the star boarder phenomenon at the time—was he a leader, a lothario, or a legend?  


4) Marta Cieślak is an instructor in the Polish Studies Program in the Department of Transnational Studies at the University at Buffalo and a PhD candidate in the American Studies program.  Her project explores the transatlantic transition of Polish rural women and men into the American industrial working class during the pre-World War I upsurge of progressive reformism. Following the journey of the Polish peasantry from the countryside of partitioned Poland to the American city, she will examine how the arrival of rural East-Central Europeans changed the structure of the American industrial working class and affected the progressive narratives of what belonging to and membership in the American nation implied and required.


5) Lida Cope, Ph.D., is an associate professor of applied linguistics at East Carolina University’s Department of English and director of the Texas Czech Legacy Project at the University of Texas at Austin.   She works on the archive of Svatava Pirková Jakobson (1908-2000), whose academic career in the U.S. began at Columbia and Harvard and ended at the University of Texas in Austin, in the heart of the Texas Czech community. Her ultimate goal is to rediscover Svatava Jakobson’s legacy for scholars as well as communities whose members she touched during the years of her fieldwork. Being part of the NEH Institute will allow her to share the highlights of the Jakobson collection, learn more about preserving and displaying such collections, walk the same streets Svatava Jakobson walked when exploring the Czech and Slovak immigrant neighborhoods, examine the remaining pieces of her archive in the Columbia University’s library, and begin a first analysis of her early fieldwork with a focus on Dotazník (‘A Survey’) contributions from ethnic Czechs and Slovaks in the U.S. concerning Czechoslovak folksongs (published weekly in Newyorské Listy (NL) ‘New York News’; 1944-1945). 


6) Nicole Eaton is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kennan Institute in Washington, DC, and she received her Ph.D. in European History at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013.  She is currently working on a monograph about the everyday life and encounter in the 1940s in the German city Königsberg as it became the Soviet Russian city of Kaliningrad.  For the term of the NEH workshop, she intends to develop a syllabus for a course on Eastern and East Central European diaspora and nostalgia in the twentieth century and research the cultural memory and representations of the German expulsions from East-Central Europe after the Second World War, particularly those Germans expelled from the Polish, Lithuanian, and Soviet Russian territories of the former East Prussia.


7) David A. Goldfarb, Independent Scholar (PhD, Comparative Literature, City University of New York).   His project for the institute concerns the double life of writer Leopold Tyrmand. Tyrmand wrote the key novel of postwar Warsaw, which was published in English as The Man With the White Eyes (originally Zły or “Evil”), was a major promoter of jazz in the 1950s, and was known for his flamboyant fashion sense. After emigrating he spent some time in New York and grew into a leading figure among American conservatives of the “old-Right” or as David Frum called them, “paleo-conservatives,” publishing several pieces in The New Yorker ending with a screed against the sexual revolution and later becoming editor of The Rockford Institute’s Chronicles of Culture. Americans, including his own family, never really understood until quite recently how big a figure he was in Poland or how Poles understood him, and Poles are only just learning, with considerable surprise, of his American identity.


8) Evelina Gužauskytė is Associate Professor of Spanish at Wellesley College and the author of Christopher Columbus’s Naming in the diarios of the Four Voyages (1492-1504): A Discourse of Negotiation (University of Toronto Press, 2014). She received her PhD in colonial Latin American Literature from Columbia University. Her new research projects explore the construction of alternative geographic, social, and cultural spaces in minor literary and non-literary forms, such as letters, newspaper articles, and social media posts, produced by Lithuanian immigrant communities across the US and Latin America.


9) Dr. Yadira Perez Hazel is an Assistant Professor of anthropology at the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College Ethnic Studies Center, and an Oral History manager at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.  She has conducted research on issues of immigration, identity formation and racial inequality in the Dominican Republic, Japan and Haiti and now in the Lower East Side, New York. She is developing a comparative research project along notions of belonging.


10) Michael Innis-Jiménez is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of American Studies at the University of Alabama. He earned his PhD in History at the University of Iowa.  As a scholar of Latin American immigrants to the US, he will be working on a comparative project studying patterns and unique aspects of working-class East Central European immigrants with those from Latin America. He will also further examine the concept of cultural and radicalized borders between both groups.


11) Rosamund Johnston is a PhD candidate in Modern European History at New York University.  Her research project examines what has been described by Czech and Slovak Cold War-era émigrés as an “immigrant dream” which takes, rather, the form of a nightmare. In various iterations, émigrés find themselves once again in their country of origin, trapped.  She will analyze oral histories in which émigrés discuss this topic in the context of the Cold War and limited movement to and from East Central Europe. Furthermore, her analysis is influenced by recent work on fear in the region during the Cold War period (Feinberg).  She will complement oral history interviews with the writings of émigré authors, such as Milan Kundera, on the topic of dreams. In addition, she will consider more generally the cultural history of dreaming in Central Europe (using Carl Schorske’s work on Freud in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna as her starting point).  She proposes this topic less as a Czech and Slovak phenomenon than as one tied to the Cold War-era. She would be keen to research the experiences of other East Central European immigrant groups, and engage the methodologies of scholars from other disciplines, at the Summer Institute.


12) Anna Katsnelson teaches at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. Her new project looks at contemporary Jewish, immigrant writers from the former Soviet Republics including David Bezmozgis, Sana Krasikov, Gary Shteyngart, Lara Vapnyar, Maxim D. Shrayer (an NEH 2013 presenter), and Anya von Bremzen, who are up-ending the fixed literary identity of the Soviet transplant in the West. This project explores the quiddities of the globalized, former Soviet, North American, Jewish self in the 21st century. The final result of this project will be a number of academic articles and a conference on Russian-speaking American writers, which Anna is currently organizing for next fall and which will take place in New York City.


13) Nick Kupensky is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Comparative Humanities and Russian Studies at Bucknell University.  He is also completing his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale University. He is interested in how ethnic identity is revealed and concealed in the literature and art by and about the American working-class, and compares the representations of eastern European immigrants in American literature. His current focus is on the poetry from the American industrial heartland. His work examines how Rust Belt poets in the 20th and 21st centuries have negotiated a strong class-consciousness, their real or perceived ethnic identities, and the pressures of Americanization within the context of industrialization and deindustrialization, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of new nation states in Eastern and Central Europe. 


14) Donald Loewen is Associate Professor of Russian and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of The Most Dangerous Art: Poetry, Politics and Autobiography after the Russian Revolution.  His project will be to develop curricular materials for a course and research training program for undergraduates, with a focus on the immigration stories of people from Slavic and East/Central European countries. He plans to work with colleagues at other colleges, universities and museums to develop a shared database of immigration stories collected by undergraduates who will then use this database for original research projects.


15) Nataša Milas is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Her research and teaching interests include: Russian and Eastern European Émigré Literature, Exile and Identity, Danilo Kiš and Yugoslav Literature, Non-fiction, and Literary Translation. Nataša has recently guest edited a Bosnian Issue of the literary journal Absinthe and she co-edited a special issue of film journal Kino Kultura dedicated to Bosnia.  During the NEH Summer Seminar Nataša will be researching her article about émigrés form the former Yugoslavia in America as represented in contemporary literature and film. Her article focuses on issues of war trauma, immigrants’ interiority/exteriority, and duality/plurality of identity in works by Aleksandar Hemon, Ismet Prcic, Semezdin Mehmedinović, David Albahari, and Goran Rušinović.


16) Liladhar Pendse, Ph.D. is Librarian for Central Asian, East European and Slavic Studies. Librarian for Armenian and Caucasus Studies, University of California, Berkeley.  The purpose of his pilot research project is to examine and understand the Russian Émigré Experience in California through the Russian language periodicals as well as émigré fiction that were and are currently published in California by multiple immigrant groups from Russia beginning the 19th Century. On one hand, the cultural and language use similarities that bind them in a sort of affinity group kinship based structure while on the other hand, the religious, social, and historical differences that led to the initial exodus and their transplantation on the West Coast of the United States in California portray a highly nuanced picture of cultural assimilation, social and historical memory propagation.


17) Michael Perekrestov is Librarian and Collections Registrar, Foundation of Russian History, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, NY.  He holds MLIS and MA degrees in Museum Studies from Syracuse University.   His current research focuses on Eastern European scholarly resources of America’s Eastern Christian religious institutions. The NEH Summer Institute research project will entail a study of the challenges faced by such institutions, especially as they relate to or are a result of the nature of these institutions. The project will also explore possible avenues for increasing awareness of and access to scholarly resources held by church-affiliated repositories, as well as methods of fostering collaboration between these institutions and the larger academic community.


18) Kristina Poznan is an Instructor in the Lyon G. Tyler Department of History, and a Ph.D. candidate in History at the College of William & Mary.   Her dissertation, “Becoming Immigrant Nation-Builders: The Development of Austria-Hungary’s National Projects in the United States, 1880s-1920s,” examines the relationship between transatlantic migration, migrant identities, and separatist nationalism in the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It pays particular attention to migrants’ activism in homeland politics and the “long arm” of the Austro-Hungarian government in maintaining migrant loyalty in America. Her research at the Summer Institute will focus on trans-ethnic interactions and organizations among East Central European migrants in New York in the WWI era.


19) Charles Sabatos is currently Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, where he teaches American and European literature.  He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, with a focus on the Central European novel.  His project for the NEH Summer Institute will focus on the social and literary relationship between East Central European (especially Czech and Slovak) immigrant writers and other minority groups (particularly African-Americans), exploring the question of whether their works reveal a sense of shared oppression across racial boundaries.


20) Allison Schmidt is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Kansas. She is writing her dissertation on transmigration, or the journey Russians and Austro-Hungarians undertook during the height of their overseas emigration (ca. 1890-1914). She focuses namely on their experiences traveling through the German province of Saxony en route to harbor cities and how local German police and health officials reacted to these “Durchwanderer.” Using Saxony as a case study, her dissertation will explore major routes of transmigration in Europe as well as the economic, political, and geographic forces behind emigration.  Through the NEH Summer Institute, Schmidt hopes to understand the connections between the historiography of US immigration and European emigration. She also looks forward to hearing colleagues’ thoughts on teaching migration and developing courses.


21) Robert Moses Shapiro: Born in Munich to Polish Jewish survivors of Nazi German ghettos and forced labor camps, his native language is Yiddish, with touches of German and Polish. He is professor of East European Jewish Studies in the Judaic Studies Department at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.  His doctorate in History is from Columbia University, sponsored by the late Dr. Lucjan Dobroszycki of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. His Institute project is exploration of Jewish immigration from Lodz, Poland, to the USA, with emphasis on interaction and contacts between earlier immigrants and new candidates for immigration, while identifying similarities and differences with ethnic Polish immigration.


22) Janet L. (Jan) Stoffer is the Director of Education at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Having recovered from the horrific 2008 flood, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) is now at a pivotal point in its development as an institution charged with interpreting history and culture. There is a need to establish a network from which the NCSML and scholars can effectively benefit one another. How can a museum, situated outside of academia and with a broad national audience, best interact with scholars and university students? During the Workshop, Stoffer will work to develop a model by which museums and scholars can successfully collaborate. The envisioned model will provide a structure by which museums and scholars share information and ideas that may be used to inform the general public about current social and political issues in ways that encourage civic engagement and may affect social change.


23) Andris Straumanis.  I am an associate professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His M.A. in American studies is from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.   His project is twofold. First, he plans to explore attempts to revive the Latvian ethnic community in the United States during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and how this revival was portrayed in the nationalist, religious and radical press. The research is particularly focused how the press served as a means of defining (or re-defining) the saliency of Latvian ethnic identity.  Second, he plans to develop a syllabus for a potential interdisciplinary course in American ethnic media. The course would draw from journalism and media studies, from history, and from sociology to examine the role of media in creating and maintaining ethnic communities.


24) Jeffrey Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Arts Management at Purchase College, State University of New York.  He has a PhD. in Comparative History of Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.   My project will examine the careers of émigré artists, and particularly how their identification with new markets affected their canonical standing in national traditions as well as the wider international canon. Furthermore, I am interested in how they employed memory of a homeland within their diaspora artworks. The artists I am planning to study are primarily Hungarian: Eva Zeisel, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Elmyr de Hory, and Nandor Honti.


25) Igor Tchoukarine is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in International Studies at Macalester College, Minneapolis, MN. He holds a doctorate in History from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris).  His project for the NEH Summer Institute focuses on the autobiography and other texts of Joseph Splivalo (who was born in Dalmatia in 1900, and settled in California in 1922). Splivalo’s case study belongs to a broader research project that considers the Balkans’ maritime dimensions as a central facet of the region’s identity and history in the 20th century. For this case study, Tchoukarine’s goals are to examine how Splivalo’s writings became a multifaceted space defined by his experiences in America and in Dalmatia; the memories that his first “return” to the Adriatic (in 1963) sparked; and a desire to expose the “cruel facets” of the experience of immigration.



National Endowment for the National Humanities