The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians

Call for Papers

The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians is holding its 17th conference, Difficult Conversations: Thinking and Talking about Women, Genders, and Sexualities Inside and Outside the Academy at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y., June 1–4, 2017.

The Berkshire Conference interprets this overarching theme broadly, inviting submissions for an array of engaging and interactive presentations intended to generate conversations across time, fields, methodologies, and geographic borders; across races, classes, sexualities and gender identities; between academic and public historians, activists, artists and performers. Berkshire is especially keen to attract participants from around the globe and scholars of time periods and geographic fields that have been underrepresented at the Berkshire Conference.

Conference organizers want to bring special attention to Track 14, which focuses on work and working conditions as well as research:

14. Work Cultures/Work Realities: The Academy and Beyond

This track seeks individual papers, panels, or roundtable sessions on issues or themes relevant to the work (broadly defined) we do. We hope to generate informed conversation about pedagogy, but also working conditions—for those working in any capacity in higher educational institutions as well as those in other settings. Given the service burdens in the academy that fall particularly heavily on women and people of color, how do we see that such contributions are valued? Do we need to redefine teaching and service as intellectual endeavors? Is it necessary to change dominant understandings of scholarship?  How would we set about doing these tasks? These issues are particularly timely given attacks on university employees and the questions raised by politicians, parents, and students about the “value” or “utility” of history?

They are also important in light of those scholars, including public historians, public intellectuals, and digital humanists whose contributions often cannot be measured by “traditional” categories.

Other difficult conversations are to be had on how historians in various settings (schools, universities, non-profits, for-hire) can work together. We also seek to address how scholarship and work are married beyond the academy. How can one be a historian and work, for example, in non-academic settings? What does it mean to be an Alt-Ac, public historian, or history-informed activist in 2017?

Proposal deadline: Jan 15, 2016

Can't Access JSTOR? Here's Why

Several NCIS members have reported problems accessing JSTOR using their JPASS, for which NCIS members benefit from a massive 50% discount. We have chased this up, and have received the following advice from JSTOR: "We’re happy to work with NCIS to offer a JPASS discount to members! The current URL[still works, but] we’re currently experiencing intermittent, site-wide problems, which impacts the JPASS purchase workflow and JSTOR access. We’re working to restore stable access as quickly as possible."

JSTOR staff have promised to update us as soon as they resolve the problem, so watch this space!

Alexandra Wimberly Wins Dorbrecht Grant for Scientific Research

Alexandra Wimberly, NCIS member, was awarded $1,800 from the Dorbrecht Grant of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund for her research project, Yoga Intervention for Substance Use and Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence in Community Reentry. The randomized controlled trial will explore yoga’s impact on the well-being of people in reentry from prison or jail with HIV and substance use problems. Findings will inform the development of substance use interventions for this population.

Alexandra is a doctoral student in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice.

SPARC Advocates Open Access for Scholarly Resources

"SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC believes that faster and wider sharing of the outputs of the scholarly research process increases the impact of research, fuels the advancement of knowledge, and increases the return on research investments. SPARC focuses on taking action in collaboration with stakeholders – including authors, publishers, and libraries – to build on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.

See more.

Call for Papers: New Approaches to Manuscript Variations in South Asia

A panel at the European Conference on South Asian Studies

Warsaw, Poland, July 27-30, 2016


Convenors: Neeraja Poddar (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Arthur Dudney (University of Cambridge)

The papers in this panel will explore the themes of copying, repetition and reproduction in the context of early-modern South Asian manuscripts to understand how such books were valued, used and disseminated. We hope to include manuscripts in both pothi and codex format—with and without illustrations—ranging from literature and religious treatises to dictionaries and indexes. Common to them is the fact that multiple versions and editions of each were made through copying by hand. The result of such non-mechanical reproduction is that copies might not be "perfect" with variations introduced by artists and scribes, either deliberately or inadvertently. The purpose of this panel is to explore the significance of such variations. Rather than thinking of them as merely discrepancies or mistakes, we regard them as junctures where the authors' or artists' engagement with contemporary sectarian concerns, literary trends, artistic strategies and popular culture may be manifest.

Papers might compare different editions or versions in order to investigate issues such as: What is the core of a text? Which viewpoint is preferred at a particular historical moment? How are narratives transformed as they are copied? What is the impact of scribal error when such an error becomes sanctified by usage? We invite proposals from scholars who work in a variety of disciplines including Art History, Literature, and Religious Studies, especially welcoming proposals that draw upon methodologies from Digital Humanities.

Submit a proposal here. Our panel is number P33. Please contact either of the convenors at the links above if you have any questions. Please note that in order to attend the conference you have to be a paid up member of the European Association for South Asian Studies. You can join here

Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education

The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and History and Culture program at Drew University are pleased to announce the distinguished keynote speakers for Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education.

Leonard Cassuto is a professor of English at Fordham University and the author or editor of eight books on American literature and culture.

His new book, The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It, was inspired by the monthly column, “The Graduate Adviser," that he writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Cassuto is also an award-winning journalist who writes on subjects ranging from science to sports, in venues from The New York Times to

Robert Townsend oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and day-to-day work on the Humanities Indicators initiative.

Prior to the Academy, he spent 24 years at the American Historical Association, in positions ranging from editorial assistant to deputy director. He is the author of History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education and electronic publishing.

For more information on Crossroads, including the Call for Papers, visit Proposals for conference presentations are due November 15. Join the discussion online using #FutureofHistory

GRANT Slavic Studies May 2015

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the Mary Zirin Prize in recognition of an independent scholar in the field of Slavic Studies. The award of $500 is named for Mary Zirin, the founder of Women East-West.

Working as an independent scholar, Zirin produced and encouraged fundamental works in Slavic/East European Women's Studies and has been instrumental in the development of the AWSS. The Prize aims to recognize the achievements of independent scholars and to encourage their continued scholarship and service in the fields of Slavic or Central and Eastern European Women's Studies.

The Committee encourages the nomination of candidates at all career stages. For the purpose of this award, an independent scholar is defined as a scholar who is not employed at an institution of higher learning, or an employee of a university or college who is not eligible to compete for institutional support for research (for example, those teaching under short-term contracts or working in administrative posts). We welcome nominations from CIS and Central and Eastern Europe.

The Zirin Prize Committee will accept nominations (including self-nominations) until September 1, 2015. Nominations must include: (1) a nomination letter of be no more than two-pages double-spaced; (2) the nominee's current curriculum vitae; and (3) a sample publication (e.g., article or book chapter). The nomination letter must describe the scholar's contribution to the field, as well as work in progress.

Nominations should be sent to Marilyn Smith at, or by postal mail to

Marilyn Schwinn Smith, 14 Allen Street, Amherst, MA 01002


Dorbrecht Grant Recipient Publishes Research

Edith Brotman has recently published Mussar Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014), using research funded by the Dorbrecht grant.  

Book abstract

While there are no statistics on the number of Jews participating in so-called Eastern religious practices, yoga and Buddhism anecdotally appear popular among liberal Jews in North America and even in Israel. According to Rodger Kamemetz, author of The Jew and the Lotus, the first known American convert to Buddhism in the late 19th century was a Jew named Charles Strauss. In the 1960s and 70s the term Jubu (or interchangeably, Buju) emerged as a way to refer to a person of Jewish religious and ethnic heritage who practices Buddhism in some manner or degree. The term is sometimes ironically used to refer to Jews who simply have a lifestyle that is highly infused with Eastern traditions such as yoga or meditation.

With the seeming rise of interest in yoga, there is growing curiosity and acceptance of spiritual parallels between Judaism and yoga’s philosophy and practices. Mussar Yoga draws on my own research into the similarities of the Jewish tradition of Mussar and yoga to offer a blended practice which draws on the similarities and strengths of the two.

Both Mussar and yoga are products of both the ancient and contemporary worlds. The yoga sutras date from around the Fourth Century CE, but yoga as we know it today is a likely outgrowth of the creation of the modern Indian nation-state. About the same time that the yoga sutras were written, Mussar, which means “instruction” was a recognized ethical discipline. In late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Mussar Movement headed by Rabbi Israel Salantar developed as a community and yeshiva based approach to Mussar study. For many decades Mussar appeared to be another victim of the Holocaust. Currently, however, the practice is experiencing a revival.

The concurrent resurgence of both Mussar and yoga spotlights parallels between the two.  One parallel is the ethical principles—such as truth, zeal, loving kindness, order and moderation.  Another are the methods. Both practices work as conversations between the behaviors of every day life and the precepts of sacred texts. And, meditation, mantras and chanting are employed by both Mussar and yoga. The spotlight also reveals differences as well such a yoga’s greater use of the physical body as template for change, and the Jewish emphasis on action rather than intention.

The book, Mussar Yoga, works as an approachable “how to” manual with a discussion of the two traditions and how together they can facilitate transformation of body and soul.  The book offers insight into thirteen different middot (ethical precepts) from both Jewish and yogic perspectives and includes photos and instructions for yoga poses, suggested mantras and questions for daily journalling.

Conference Travel Grant Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the NCIS Conference Support Grants.  The Awards Committee are currently considering the submisions received for the Fall 2015 cycle, and the award winners will be announced by 1 November, 2015. The Awards Committee is now accepting applications for the next grant cycle. Deadline: April 1, 2016. 
For more information visit
The following members have been awarded grants:
2014: Neil Dukas and Jolanta Wrobel Best
Dr. Dukas participated in the first NCIS-cosponsored session of the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, “From Surviving to Thriving: Practicing History as an Independent Scholar,” giving a talk entitled, “The Independent Historian and the Questions of 'Academic” Rigor.”
Dr. Wrobel Best presented a paper entitled “Vilnius, Czeslaw Milosz, and Facing the River,” as part of the panel “Like a Pendulum Swinging Back and Forth: Images of Vilnius/Wilno in Polish Culture after 1989,” at the conference of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  Unfortunately Dr. Wrobel Best was unable to attend the meeting in person and therefore declined the grant.  She presented her paper remotely.
There were no Research Support Grants awarded in the Fall cycle, due to insufficient entries.
2015: Gary L. Herstein
Dr Herstein was awarded a Conference Support Grant for his paper "Whitehead’s 'Intuitive' Interpretation of Relativity" which he was due to give as part of the "Intuition in Mathematics and Physics" panel at the 2015 International Whitehead Conference "Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization" in Claremont, CA in June 2015.


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