Skip to main content

The Future(s) of Microhistory: A Symposium

Collage of historical images

Overview and Schedule

November 17–18, 2017
University of Rochester

Since the rise of cultural studies and the “anthropological turn” in the 1970s, microhistorical studies have provided an avenue to examine the human experience through what Edoardo Grendi termed the “exceptional normal.” The emphasis of microhistory on symbolic culture and detailed narrative offered a new style of analysis to the historical profession while challenging long-held assumptions about the role of social scientific approaches that emphasized large-scale studies.

Now that many scholars accept microhistory as an established mode of historical thought, the time is ripe to evaluate new developments and consider the future of microhistory. A generation of historians have read, internalized, and used the approach. But, at a time when more and more scholars are interested in global issues, questions have arisen about the relationship between microhistory and “connected” or “big” history.

This conference on “The Future(s) of Microhistory” brings together a relatively small group of established historians from a range of specialties. We will discuss the current and prospective relevance of microhistory and microhistorically-inflected work at a time when scholars are turning toward transnational questions while digital history and studies based in big-data continue to grow in influence.

For more information, see the symposium schedule below and our participants page.

This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required.


Friday, November 17


Registration/Coffee
8:30–9 a.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library

Welcome
9–9:15 a.m.
Remarks by Thomas C. Devaney, University of Rochester
Remarks by President Joel Seligman, University of Rochester


Session 1

9:15–10:45 a.m.
Chair: Anna Rosensweig, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Ronald Angelo Johnson, Texas State University
    “Look Abroad, See Back Home: Diplomacy as a Lens into Cultural and Racial History”
  • Nabil Matar, University of Minnesota
    “Arab Captives in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Between Micro- and Macro-History”

Coffee
10:45-11 a.m.


Session 2

11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
Chair: Peter Christensen, University of Rochester 

Speakers:

  • Jennifer W. Kyker, Eastman School of Music
    “What's a Hero?: Music, Memory, and Martyrdom in Postcolonial Zimbabwe”
  • Robert Harms, Yale University
    “Glocalization in History” 

Lunch (for participants)
12:30–1:30 p.m.
Rare Books and Special Collections, Rush Rhees Library


Session 3

1:30–3 p.m.
Chair: Dahpon Ho, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Huaiyin Li, University of Texas at Austin
    “Microhistory, Peasant Society, and the Study of Rural China”
  • Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, University of Iceland
    “Far-reaching Emotions and Microhistory”

Coffee
3–3:15 p.m.


Session 4

3:15–4:45 p.m.
Chair: Gabrielle Cornish, Eastman School of Music

Speakers:

  • E. Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto
    “Localizing Dragomans: Shifting Scales in a Shifty World” 
  • Claudia Verhoeven, Cornell University
    “Microhistory and Mass Violence: The Manson Murders and the My Lai Massacre” 

Coffee
4:45–5 p.m.


Keynote

5–6 p.m.
Chair: Carrie Knight, University of Rochester

Speaker:


Dinner (for participants)
7 p.m.
Lento, Village Gate Square


Saturday, November 18


Coffee
9–9:30 a.m.


Session 5

9:30–11 a.m.
Chair: Pablo Sierra Silva, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Elaine Forman Crane, Fordham University
    “From Micro to Macro (or how a local incident took on international dimensions)”
  • Joan C. Bristol, George Mason University
    “Focusing Different Lenses on Esperanza Rodriguez, a mulata Jew in Seventeenth-Century Mexico”

Coffee
11–11:15 a.m.


Session 6

11:15 a.m.–12:45 p.m.
Chair: Thomas Fleischman, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Lisa Jakelski, Eastman School of Music
    “The Individual in the Transnational: Music and Politics at the 1968 Warsaw Autumn Festival”
  • Laurie Marhoefer, University of Washington
    “Microhistory and Histories of Sexuality and Racism”

Lunch (for participants)
12:45–1:45 p.m.
In the Humanities Center, Rush Rhees Library


Session 7

1:45–3:15 p.m.
Chair: Laura Smoller, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Michela Andreatta, University of Rochester
    “Microhistories of Books: The Case of Early Modern Jewish Studies”
  • Guido Ruggiero, University of Miami
    “From Women Priests and Bird Hunting to Machiavelli and the Rinascimento Itself: Thinking Big with Microhistory”

Coffee
3:15–3:30 p.m.


Session 8

3:30–5:00 p.m.
Chair: Thomas Hahn, University of Rochester

Speakers:

  • Richard W. Kaeuper, University of Rochester
    “Back to the Future: Undergraduate Studies in British Medieval Government Documents”
  • Michael J. Jarvis, University of Rochester
    “A Big War in a Small Place: Microhistory, Digital History, and the Virtual St. George’s 1775 Project”

Closing
5:00–5:15 p.m.
Remarks by Katrina Ponti, University of Rochester


Dinner (for participants)
6:30 p.m.
Brown Hound Bistro, Memorial Art Gallery