On 14 and 15 June 2023, the RIAS held the first PhD seminar of this year, organized by Dario Fazzi and Marcella Schute. The RIAS was proud to welcome six PhD candidates from many different established universities, ranging from Cambridge University in the UK to Brown University in the US.

Also this year, the PhD candidates provided us with engaging presentations about their research projects, ranging from topics about US history, culture, literature, and politics. The presentations were followed by fruitful discussions. This time, the program was arranged so that every presenter received detailed comments from an expert in their field. This year, the role of discussant was fulfilled by Viola Müller (Bonn University), Ruud van Dijk (University of Amsterdam), Bastiaan Bouwman (Utrecht University), Tim Jelfs (University of Groningen), RIAS visiting professor Frank Schumacher (University of Western Ontario), and our very own RIAS director Damian Pargas. We were very happy that the discussants were able to make their way to Middelburg and to provide valuable feedback on the papers presented. The RIAS was very pleased that our visiting short-term fellow Mariia Kravchenko from Ukraine and former RIAS PhD candidate Paul Brennan were able to join the sessions.

All the sessions were chaired by RIAS PhD candidate and organizer Marcella Schute. The papers presented ranged from topics about literature written during the Civil War to topics about the US and empire in the twentieth century. Samantha Lanevi (Cambridge University) kicked off the seminar with her paper entitled “Weaponization of Supposed White Female Victimhood in Secession Advocacy.” Her presentation was followed by Mara Curechian (University of St. Andrews) who presented on “‘To Generations Yet Unborn’ – The Queer Future of the Confederacy in Augusta Jane Evans’s Macaria; or, Altars of Sacrifice.” Before everyone enjoyed their lunch in the sun outside, Cameron Sparkhall (University of East Anglia) presented his paper called “A Culture of Secrecy: Constructing the History of the CIA in the Cold War.”

After regaining some new energy during lunch, Katharina Weygold (Brown University) kicked off the afternoon session with her paper “African American Women’s Writings about Haiti during the U.S. Occupation, 1915–1934.” Her presentation was followed by Lucrezia Luci (LUISS University Rome), who presented her paper entitled “Deviant Historical Analogies and the Transatlantic Relations: The Case of the Second Gulf War.” The PhD seminar was closed by Benjamin Gladstone (Oxford University), whose presentation was titled “The Mandate System and the End of Imperialism: An Analysis of the Implications of the Mandates System.” The day was beautifully closed with a well-deserved dinner and beers at restaurant De Kemel in Middelburg.

The Spring seminar of 2023 was a great success, mainly because the RIAS was lucky to receive so many well-written and highly engaging papers. We hope that the candidates went home with valuable feedback for their PhD projects.

While looking back on a very successful Spring seminar, the RIAS is also looking forward to the next seminar, which will be held in December this year.

To view the complete program of the seminar, please click here.