New Faces
JOSEPH CRESPINO. I want to thank my colleagues and the department staff who have made my transition to Emory so enjoyable. Of the many pleasures during my first year, the biggest has been getting to meet and teach Emory undergraduates, as

delightful a group of students as I’ve met. Their eagerness and intelligence makes my job so much easier, and so much more fun.

I taught two courses in the spring semester. The first was a lecture course covering the history of the American South from Reconstruction to the present. The second was a colloquium on politics and ideology in post-1945 America that used American conservatism as an orienting lens. I’ve had a fair amount of teaching experience before I came to Emory—both as a high school and a university instructor—but it still seems like every day brings new, fundamental lessons about teaching and learning.

Aside from teaching, I spent the fall working on revisions for my book manuscript which examines the politics of southern segregationists at the end of the Jim Crow era. I focus on Mississippi, generally considered to be the most recalcitrant southern state, but my work argues that understanding the evolution of racial politics there is crucial in thinking about broader changes in southern and American politics and society in the second half of the twentieth century. I had a chance to refine some of these arguments at two conferences I attended this year. At the Social Science History Conference in Baltimore, I discussed economic development in the post-World War II South and its impact on racial desegregation. I argued that too many historians have focused on the ambivalence of business progressivism in this era rather than emphasizing the structural changes that transformed the southern economy. By the early 1960s, even among the most committed segregationists in the most obstinate areas of the South, economic imperatives had emerged that established the foundation for racial change. As evidence, I focused on the evolution in goals and tactics within the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, the most infamous state-level organization committed to preserving Jim Crow. In May, I gave a paper at the Policy History Conference in St. Louis that examined the evolution of Internal Revenue Policy towards racially discriminatory private schools that developed in the aftermath of southern school desegregation. The paper examined the complicated decisions that federal policy makers faced regarding conflicting claims of racial justice and religious freedom in the post-civil rights South.

MARINA RUSTOW. In August, 2003, I made my first trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, home of the most important collection of medieval Judeo-Arabic manuscripts in the world, to attend the biennial meeting of the Society for Judeo-Arabic Studies. I gave a talk there on literacy in the medieval Mediterranean, intended partly as a

provocation to medieval manuscript scholars. The basic question I was asking was: given that the preponderant bulk of evidence on the basis of which we historians reconstruct medieval society is textual, doesn't it make sense to ask what place manuscripts, textuality, writing, and literacy had in the societies in question? I talked about reading and writing practices as reflected in medieval legal documents and quoted some medieval Arabic poetry making fun of people who have all their learning from books instead of via what was considered the proper method: oral transmission. My claim was that when we read medieval manuscripts, we must try hard to hear the oral performance behind the words on the page -- the symphony behind the musical score, if you will.

I then spent the fall term at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania with a group of sixteen other historians and anthropologists in Jewish Studies meeting for weekly seminars, presentations, and reading groups. We organized a conference called "Challenging Boundaries: History and Anthropology in Jewish Studies," which took place in April, 2004, and will result in a published volume of papers around the themes of the conference. While at Penn, I also finished my dissertation and compressed some of my ideas into a conference paper that I delivered at the Association for Jewish Studies meeting in December 2003 in which I argued against some of the regnant theories of religious sectarianism in Jewish history. Finally, in April 2004 I gave a paper at the Medieval Academy annual meeting in Seattle on a group of conversos (Spanish Jewish converts to Christianity) who migrate to Egypt in 1465 and create havoc in the rabbinic Jewish community of Cairo by insisting on practicing Judaism according to their personal interpretation of the biblical text.