Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Four Undergraduates Awarded Provost Fellowships for Coming Year

Four Undergraduates Awarded Provost Fellowships for Coming Year

Congratulations to Ed Englestad, Michael Polowski, Dylan LeBlanc, and Juan Basadre for being awarded highly competitive Provost Fellowships for the coming academic year.

Ed Englestad’s project is entitled “Experiencing the Life of a Jesuit Missionary in the Pacific Northwest.” Ed is engaged in digitally mapping one of approximately forty still-extant maps drawn by Fr. Pierre Jean De Smet, S.J. now conserved at the Midwest Jesuit Archives in Saint Louis, Missouri, De Smet’s “home base” during his many years of westward explorations. (Several examples of these maps can be seen here online.) The map that Ed has been working on is perhaps the collection’s most intricately detailed, replete with names, dates, and event descriptions (e.g., “115 baptisms, 1842") along with the topographical information.  Loyola is very fortunate to have acquired the map as a loan item for the upcoming 2014 exhibition, Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014, at the Loyola University Museum of Art.  

Ed began working on this map through a HIST 398 internship in spring 2013 under the direction of Professor Stephen Schloesser. His initial preparation for it included reading standard biographies of Pierre De Smet and compiling many details on American Indian tribes, their socio-cultural contexts and their geographical settings, and the exact dates during which they and De Smet crossed paths. (Ed was admirably equipped for this project thanks to his already having completed an American West course with History Department Professor Ted Karaminski).  The Midwest Jesuit Archives generously provided a high-resolution TIFF file which Ed then had printed on oversized paper (approximately 4' x 3'). Thanks to this preliminary research, Ed will produce overlay maps that will be able to show De Smet’s travels in both chronological and geographical terms, showing both his “crossings” as well as his “dwellings” in various settlements. Moreover, Ed is particular interested in the actual topography of these maps because he is especially intrigued by the harsh physical conditions under which these missionaries lived and labored.

This project draws on Ed’s expertise acquired during his years working in military intelligence in Iraq. Ed worked with surveillance maps as he tracked movements and gathered information for strategies. For his Provost Fellowship project, he will transfer his military expertise to this civilian project.  To learn more about Ed’s work, please see his research internship blog.

Michael Polowski is also engaged in primary source materials of Fr. De Smet. Michael’s proposed digital mapping concerns approximately 1500 still-extant letters of De Smet (conserved with De Smet’s maps at the Midwest Jesuit Archives in Saint Louis, Missouri). Happily, during the 1930s, some enterprising archivists produced a card catalog of all of these letters; even more fortunately, this data has been entered into Excel spreadsheets during the past decade. This versatile document allows us to search the letters by sender, recipient, date, originating location, destination location, and language (Dutch/Flemish, French, English, Latin). De Smet sent transatlantic letters from St. Louis to his native Belgium and neighboring Holland in order to raise funds for the St. Louis Mission in Florissant (today’s St. Louis University)—in fact, he made 16 transatlantic voyages for fund-raising purposes during his lifetime.  He also sent numerous transcontinental letters to Washington, D.C. and to other military commands as he tried to negotiate more humane settlements for the American Indians to whom he dedicated his life. Finally, he sent letters back-and-forth between St. Louis and various posts in the northwest territories during his years of exploration and establishing settlements in present-day Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and southwestern Canada.

Michael will take this research a giant step forward by beginning the process of digitally mapping a significant number of letters during the fellowship period.  Building on the model of the enormous project of “Mapping the Republic of Letters” that has been undertaken at Stanford University over the past decade, Michael’s work illustrates the exciting new possibilities of collaboration between traditional archival documents of the “Humanities” and rapidly evolving innovations in digital technology.

Michael will put his background in Computer Science and History to work through the visualization of content in a wide variety of letters from five decades (1820-1870).  This will include varieties of distance (transatlantic, transcontinental, local); varieties of purpose and destinations (fund-raising, Indian affairs, military and trading, ecclesiastical); and varieties of languages.  For his project he will produce a map of around 200 letters that demonstrates the chronological, geographical, and thematic diversity of the nineteenth-century West.  It will also allow for the visualization of De Smet’s social networks and analysis of how those networks were constructed and then continually reinforced.

Dylan LeBlanc continues to refine work which began under a Provost Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic year under Associate Professor John Donoghue.  Dylan's project, entitled “‘When God Intends a Man to Work’: Seventeenth Century Puritan Self-Fashioning and the Atlantic Lineage of Modern Individuality”, contributes to an understanding of modern individuality in the West. Arguing that Puritan self-fashioning played a considerable role in the development of a modern idea of self, i.e. a self more directly connected to its own agency and less defined by the coercive prerogatives of community, Dylan's work examines debates which took place in the colonial communities of Massachusetts during the 1630s and 40s.  Today these debates would best be characterized as being centered around religious tolerance, or the “liberty of conscience”. Social tensions in the Puritan community concerning the liberty of conscience arose as a direct result of internal tensions within Puritan thought and spirituality, namely between the embrace of individual agency and the submission of the individual to authority, whether divine or magisterial. 

In order to understand these colonial tensions, Dylan will survey Puritan thought in an Atlantic context.  In tracing examples of self-fashioning beginning with the diary of Samuel Ward in 1595, through the immigration writings of John Winthrop (1628-30), and the case of Anne Hutchinson’s dissent in, and expulsion from, the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637, his research will formulate and refine a theoretical framework for conceiving of the linkage between early modern religion and the modern self. As a continuation of previous research, his focus will be directed towards the solving of methodological problems which surface in dealing with Atlantic history, namely that of establishing continuity and identifying differences between identity formation on either side of the Atlantic.

Juan Basadre will work with Professor Leslie Dossey to analyze the sleep patterns of the ancient Romans and Greeks for his Provost fellowship. Sleep, in general, is largely taken for granted in daily life, yet it plays a huge role in the life of the individual.  What is less obvious, however, is the cultural construction of sleep patterns in societies. Sleeping the entirety of the night, without interruption, is likely an invention of the industrial age. Historian Roger Ekrich argues that before industrialization sleep was segmented into two main categories: “first sleep” and  “second” or “morning sleep”.  The period between these “sleeps” came about usually at midnight and typically involved quiet reflection or some short task for 1 to 3 hours.  Sleep, thus, must be understood through the intersection of societal influences, culture, and the nature of work on the individual.

Because there is little secondary material on the topic of sleep patterns in Roman and Greek antiquity, Juan will be working with primary sources from the period, such as the biographies of Roman Emperors, which often discuss their personal life. Many accounts of the Roman aristocracy and elite also survive, although accounts of sleep patterns are often mentioned in passing.  Juan will test Ekrich’s model of “first sleep” and “second sleep” against these primary sources while noting the various contexts - gender, class, ethnicity and the actual times of slumber - in which these sleep patterns took place. What individuals did during the inter-sleeps period (between first and second sleep) is also an important reflection of cultural expectations that will be part of the study.