Current Graduate Students

ian-burnsIan Burns

Field: Ireland and the British Empire

Advisor: Sean Farrell                 


I am a Ph.D. candidate specializing in modern Ireland and the British Empire, with secondary fields in French Empire, as well as Humanitarianism and Visual Culture. My dissertation, “In the Service of Ireland: The Irish Volunteers, 1913-1916” interrogates the intersections of identity, violence, and nationalism within this organization. Using an episodic format to recast major events involving the Irish Volunteers, I argue that the differences apparent within this group throughout 1913-1916 are so critical that a singular Irish Volunteer organization never fully coalesced. Instead, I identify three separate manifestations of the Volunteers. Ever conscious of their place in history, this essential Volunteer volatility is a paradoxical, and at the same time, central factor, in obscuring answers to the question of the Irish Volunteers’ ultimate place in the early Irish Revolutionary period. 



Craver--Alex-2018.jpgAlex Craver

Fields: Russia and the Soviet Union, Environmental

Advisor: Andy Bruno


I am a PhD student focused on the Soviet Union and its environmental, technological, and industrial history. My current project is an examination of the Soviet Rubber Industry, both in the strange and different ways the Soviet Union sought to produce synthetic rubber, and the groups, organizations, and individuals who participated in the rapid process of researching, creating, and selling "socialist rubber." My previous research has been on American-Soviet business relations during the 1920s and the social construction of Soviet industrial machinery in the 1930s.

iversonJustin Iverson

Field: Early America, Black Atlantic, Nineteenth-century US


I am a PhD candidate specializing in early America and the Black Atlantic with research interests in slave resistance. My dissertation examines several familiar events in early American history from 1676 to 1823 in which enslaved people were armed and fought as soldiers in war and rebellion. I explore these cases from black perspectives and compare them to conventional incidents of slave rebellion and marronnage in the Atlantic world.  The dissertation aims to reshape the ways historians think about arming slaves and orthodox ideas of enslaved resistance.

Andrew Jordan

Field: U.S. History


I am a current MA students focusing on the primary field of United States history. I am also a 2009 NIU alumnus and have been teaching at Sycamore High School ever since. As a teacher, I help run our school's History Club and Student Council and am active in the Sycamore Education Assocation.

LosavioJoAnn LoSavio

Fields: Transnational History (Modern Southeast Asia, Twentieth Century U.S., British Twentieth Century)

Advisor: Trude A. Jacobsen


My dissertation examines Southeast Asian women from Burma, Malaysia (Malaya), and Thailand as transnational actors between 1950 and 1970. By focusing on transnational processes of “overseas” education my research explicates how and why did these young women become transnational actors. I am a recipient of the Carter G. Woodson Fellowship, 2017-2018.

LuginbillKevin Luginbill

Field: British Empire

Advisor: Sean Farrell


I am a Ph.D. candidate exploring the intellectual history and ideological justifications for empire in late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. My dissertation is "Building an Imperial World: Ideologies of Imperialism and the Tariff Reform Movement in the British Empire, 1900-1914." My work focuses on the Edwardian-era Tariff Reform campaign of Joseph Chamberlain, who sought to reform Britain's economic relationship with its colonies to lay the foundation for the creation of an imperial federation between Britain and the colonies. The arguments and ideas deployed in support or opposition to this scheme of imperial federation reveal the diverse and often contradictory ways in which the British people conceptualized and understood their relationship with their vast empire.

marachRobert "BJ" Marach

Field:  U.S. Civil War

Advisor: James Schmidt


I am a Ph.D. student.  My research focuses on Civil War veterans.  Specifically, I examine issues that were never reconciled between veterans on both sides.

PalsaHannah Palsa

Field of study:  20th Century U.S., Public History


I am an M.A. student focusing on the use of dogs during World War II. My research intends to explore the development of Dogs for Defense which was established with the help of AKC Poodle Breeder, Alene Erlanger during World War II. I am intending to focus on not only just Dogs for Defense, Alene Erlanger, but also the methods used to train war dogs, the breed specifications, types of war dogs and the process of demobilization. My goal is to explore the themes of domestication and the use of a working dog to explore how civilians felt about loaning their dogs in the name of Dogs for Defense but also how these acts inspired patriotism in civilians. Before deciding to become a historian, I had planned to become a veterinary technician and focus on canine behavior.

Alex SosenkoAlexander Sosenko

Field: Twentieth-Century Ukraine, Soviet Union, Human Rights

Dissertation Advisor: Andy Bruno


My doctoral project examines the metamorphosis of a 1960s Ukrainian literary & aesthetic avant-garde movement (Sixtiers) into the 1970s cause célèbre of Amnesty International's global campaign. The scholarship is contextualized within the framework of Cold War ideological struggles, the evolving natures of Soviet repression and Ukrainian identity and the galvanization of an international human rights movement. Sources range from early 1960s poetry testing boundaries of socialist-realism, underground Sixtier samizdat literature and internationally disseminated NGO periodicals.  My research also delves into North America's expansive network of émigré-exile publishing houses and diasporic activism.

While originally interested in early colonial Latin America, my upbringing as a second-generation American in Chicago's Ukrainian diaspora community undoubtedly guided my graduate career.  After completing UIUC's Slavic Studies M.A., I served as an adjunct instructor in writing, humanities, and international business & economics.  As a Ph.D. student, my interests encompassed Soviet emigration and the complex relationship between Ukrainian nationalism and Ukraine’s historical borderland character. Recent visiting scholarship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also invigorated an interest in Ukraine’s Shoah and Germany’s postwar "Displaced Persons" camps.

StewardJourney Steward

Fields: Global, Comparative

Advisor:  Sean Farrell         


I am currently finishing my disseration, “Prostitution and American Immigration Policy: Panic over ‘White Slavery,’ 1890-1920." I have presented my work at the Sexuality, Human Rights, and Public Policy Conference, Marquette University; at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana Gender Symposium; and at the Hull History Center in Hull, Yorkshire.

VanGorder--Megan-2018.PNGMegan VanGorder

Field: Nineteenth Century US

Advisor: Jim Schmidt

I am a PhD student specializing in nineteenth century America social and cultural studies. For my thesis, I investigated Civil War grief in Old Northwest communities, particularly focusing on Lincoln's connection to Bloomington, Illinois. I hope to extend that work to look at the institutional organization of Ladies' Aid Societies and the Sanitary Commission to identify, retrieve, and reclaim the Civil War dead in Northern communities. I am currently working on a project that examines the shift in 19th century mourning practices through the use of photography.

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