My name is Jonah. I am a second-year PhD student in the history department, under the advisement of Dr. Gautham Rao. I received by B.A. in History from CUNY Brooklyn College and the CUNY Macaulay Honors College in 2017. My (tentative) fields are early America, the modern United States, and American Jewish History.
From this list, you may surmise that my academic interests are as broad topically as they are chronologically. You’d be right. My interests—the history of money, capitalism, and political economy—combine political, social, economic, and cultural history. Projects of mine to-date stem not just from these fields, but from a much earlier interest in numismatics. I began by collecting Lincoln wheat-back cents at an early age and then set off to assemble a collection of early American coinage (1793-1857, to be precise). Attending college and graduate school made active coin and currency collecting both cost and time-prohibitive. Still yet, I carry the same passion for scholarship and storytelling as I did when at fourteen years old I’d talk my mother’s ears off about the new penny that I’d set my eyes on adding to my collection.
I intend to continue taking advantage of as many of the advantages with attending this program as is possible. These include utilizing collections and one-of-a-kind archives for research seminar and dissertation research, participating in local conferences, working-paper presentations, symposiums, and other scholarly and cultural events that relate to my areas of study. I intend to use these (however-many) years in the program to read all that I can on the subjects that interest me most and that offer promise for greater attention in the future. And last but not least, I want to develop my pedagogical philosophy and style. Yet for as much as I want to get out of this experience, substantive contributions to the field, whether digital tools, a distinctive dissertation, work on a museum exhibit, or a publish-worthy article, all qualify as pillars of time well-spent in PhD program. I do not want my time in this program to simply be, as friends have observed, “more school.”
As for HIST 677, I want to learn more about the ways that the study of history intersects the digital realm in more ways than JSTOR and digitized databases of textual and image records. I want to learn about creative ways in which scholars conceive and reconceive of, or reinterpret, their work for audiences online and their students in the multimedia classrooms. As an aside, the interconnection between systems, institutions and the daily lives of people never ceases to intrigue me. So, as I consider how best to convey histories in a balanced and meaningful way, I hope to familiarize myself with methods of communicating the (for lack of better phrasing) “macro and micro” by using, and potentially even by developing digital tools to inquire and inspire. And speaking of pragmatism, I hope to acquire some semblance—i.e. more than I currently have—of technical expertise so that I can pursue digital history projects with an understanding of the “nuts and bolts” that make up the tools at historians’ disposal. I am most excited about exploring the range of possibilities for the final digital history project.
All the best for a happy and productive Spring 2019 semester!