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Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies pres.

EIHS Symposium: Public Engagements, Digital Tools, Global Contexts: A Roundtable and Discussion

Public scholarship takes on different forms depending on the tools, communities, topics, and time periods with which we engage. During this roundtable discussion, a group of scholar-practitioners will cover a variety of approaches: digital projects looking at mobility in twentieth-century Accra, Ghana; explorations of the legacies of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment; oral histories with Iranian Americans; and museum collaborations aiming to build local community and dispel stereotypes about Arab Americans. Using their own public and digital work as a starting point, the goal of the session is to spark conversations regarding the best principles, challenges, and rewards of doing publicly engaged scholarship within a global frame and across time periods. Presented in partnership with the Rackham Program in Public Scholarship.

Camron Amin (University of Michigan Dearborn)
Valentina Denzel (Michigan State University)
Jennifer Hart (Wayne State University)
Matthew Stiffler (Arab American National Museum)
Matthew Villeneuve (chair; University of Michigan)

Camron Michael Amin joined the faculty at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1997. He currently serves as the history discipline representative, coordinator of the Middle East Studies Certificate Program, CASL representative to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects Governing Board, principal investigator for the Michigan Iranian American Oral History Project, and program chair for the 2018 Association for Iranian Studies Conference. He is currently president of the Association for Iranian Studies.

Valentina Denzel received her doctoral degree at Paris Diderot University (Paris 7) in comparative literature. Her primary field of research is seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French literature. In her book Les mille et un visages de la virago. Marfisa et Bradamante entre continuation et variation, Garnier Classique 2016, she analyzes the evolution of the representation of the woman warrior in French and Italian literatures from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment by taking into consideration the political and historical context of this evolution and the symbolic value of the woman warrior in each specific time period. Her interest in gender identities, sexual orientation, and transgression of gender roles led her to study more in detail the philosophical and literary movement of eighteenth-century French libertinism that challenged intellectually and morally the normative thinking propagated by the Church. The work of the Marquis de Sade is a case in point, since he promotes gender identities that do not inscribe themselves into the binary system of female and male, but complicate concepts of sex, gender, and sexual orientation that are linked to transgressive power relations between his protagonists. Valentina’s second book project analyzes the representation of violence, gender, and pornography in Sade’s oeuvres, and its link to his own time period, as well as his legacy in popular cultures. More specifically, she will examine the Marquis de Sade’s impact on the punk and post-punk movements, as well as on punk-porn feminism and comic books.

Jennifer Hart is an associate professor of History at Wayne State University. A historian of Africa, her work focuses primarily on the history of technology and urban space in Ghana. She is the author of Ghana on the Go: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation (Indiana University Press, 2016), which was a 2017 finalist for the Herskovits Prize. Her work has been published in the International Review of Social History, International Journal of African Historical Studies, and African Economic History. Since 2016, Dr. Hart has been involved in shaping the emerging field of History Communications, developing curriculum at the university and national level to help students build skills to translate historical research for public audiences on a number of media platforms. This work grows out of her own public-facing scholarship, writing on her own blog ( and Africa is a Country, collaborating with photographers Nana Osei Kwadwo and Nii Odzenma on the Instagram-imbedded art project This Trotro Life (@thistrotrolife), directing the digital humanities project Accra Wala, and maintaining an active social media presence (@detroittoaccra). She currently teaches courses in African history, history communications, digital history, and digital humanities at Wayne State.

Matthew Jaber Stiffler is the research and content manager at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where he works with museum staff to accurately represent the diverse Arab American community through the museum’s collections, exhibits, and educational programming. Matthew has developed the museum’s food-based programming, particularly the Yalla Eat! Culinary Walking Tours. Matthew also leads a national research initiative through ACCESS, the largest Arab American non-profit in the country, to secure better data about the Arab American community. Matthew received his PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2010, where he serves as a lecturer in Arab and Muslim American Studies. He is currently a board member and treasurer of the Arab American Studies Association.

This event is part of the Friday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.

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