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Graduate Studies - Atlantic World History

Updated September 2019

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Vanderbilt ranks among the nation's top twenty research universities and boasts a diverse and dynamic History Department. One of the newest and most exciting areas of faculty research and graduate training at Vanderbilt is Atlantic World History. Graduate students who choose to complete a major or minor field in Atlantic World history at Vanderbilt will be introduced to a wide range of literature addressing the interactions among European, Native American, and African peoples. Working closely with our Atlantic World historians, students develop a dissertation topic and prospectus during their fifth and sixth semesters.

From their first semester, we encourage doctoral students in our field to become actively engaged in the profession through field research, networking, collaborative projects, grant writing and publishing. We also encourage training in digital humanities and our students have worked on projects such as the Slave Societies Digital Archive, the Manuel Zapata Olivella Collection and Enslaved: Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade.

Our students have presented their research at numerous national and international conferences including the American Historical Association, the Conference on Latin American History, the Brazilian Studies Association, the Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History, the African History Association, and the Association of Caribbean History, among others. Over the last decade our students have won many prestigious research awards, including the Fulbright, Social Science Research Council, American Council for Learned Societies, and Rotary fellowships.  Our students have conducted research in areas as diverse as Angola, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Graduates of our Atlantic World History program have earned tenure-track positions in history departments at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Florida, Michigan State University, the University of West Florida, the University of Birmingham, UK,, the University of Arkansas, Queens College, Georgia Gwinnett College and the University of Texas-Arlington. Our graduates have also won awards for their monographs, including David Wheat and Pablo Gomez.

Current faculty

Lauren Benton (comparative legal history of empires)  
Brandon Byrd (African American and African Diaspora intellectual history)
Celso Castilho (19th-century Brazil)
Lauren Clay (French Empire)
Jane Landers (Iberian Atlantic world)
Catherine Molineux (British Atlantic)
Moses Ochonu (Africa)
Tiffany Patterson (African American and Diaspora)
W. Frank Robinson (Africa and Central America)
Daniel Usner (French and Indigenous Atlantic)
Kim Welch (slavery, race and law in the U.S. South)
Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh (African American religiosity)
Edward Wright-Rios (Mexican religiosity)

Emeritus faculty

Richard Blackett (emeritus,19th-century British Caribbean) 
James Epstein (emeritus, 19th-century Caribbean)

Current graduate students

Chad Attenborough  Black political thought in Trinidad
Abena Boakyewa-Ansah  US and Atlantic World
Jorge Delgadillo Nuñez  Afro-Mexico and the Iberian Atlantic 
Jessica Fletcher Slavery, race and law in the 19th century Atlantic world
Abraham Liddell Black middlemen in the early African and Iberian Atlantic worlds
Alexandre Pelegrino Indigenous slavery and law in colonial Brazil

Recent Graduates

Danyelle Valentine (2019) "An Alternative Diaspora: African American 'Out' Migration to Trinidad and the British West Indies, 1783-1865."

Fernanda Bretones Lane (2019) "Spain, the Caribbean, and the Making of Religious Sanctuary."

Daniel Genkins (2018) "Entangled Empires: Anglo-Spanish Competition in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean."  

Kara Schultz (2016) "An African South Atlantic: La Plata, Brazil, and Angola, 1580-1680." 

Miriam Martin Erickson (2015) "The Black Auxiliary Troops of King Carlos IV: African Diaspora in the Spanish Atlantic World, 1791-1818."

Erin Woodruff (2014) "Indian Harvest: the Rise of the Indigenous Slave Trade from Española to the circum-Caribbean, 1492-1560."

Angela Sutton (2014) "Mercantile Culture of the Slave Trade: Piracy and Broken Monopolies in the African Atlantic World, 1621-1700." 

Caree Banton (2013) "'More Auspicious Shores": Post-Emancipation Barbadian Emigrants in Pursuit of Freedom, Citizenship, and Nationhood in Liberia, 1834-1912."  

Pablo Gómez (2010) "Bodies of Encounter: Health, Illness and Death in the Early Modern African-Spanish Caribbean." 

David Wheat (2009) "The Afro-Portuguese Maritime World and the Foundations of Spanish Caribbean Society, 1570-1640." 

Related Resources

Center for Latin America Studies
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Circum-Atlantic Studies Seminar (CASS)