MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


Emeritus Professor Thomas H. D. Mahoney died suddenly on April 21, 1997, at the age of 83, while returning from a trip to Seoul, Korea, where he addressed a conference of the Interparliamentary Union. An expert on the eighteenth-century British statesman Edmund Burke, he was the author of Edmund Burke and Ireland and the textbook The United States in World History. After his retirement from MIT in 1984, he became an important advocate for the welfare of the elderly, and served as Massachusetts Secretary of Elderly Affairs. His colleagues at MIT offer their condolences to his family and friends.


Three members of the History Faculty completed major books after many years of work. William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Pauline Maier published American Scripture: The Declaration of Independence in June, 1997. It has received a great deal of attention from news media for its provocative reinterpretation of the origins of this foundational political document. Associate Professor Jon E. (Ted) Lendon published Empire of Honor: The Art of Government in the Roman World, and an article, "Spartan Honor" in Polis and Polemus. Assistant Professor Heather Cox Richardson published The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War. Professor Bruce Mazlish published "Psychohistory and the Question of Global Identity" in The Psychohistory Review. Professor Peter C. Perdue published "Military Mobilization in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century China, Russia, and Mongolia" in Modern Asian Studies, and Lecturer Jinhua Emma Teng published "The Construction of the Traditional Chinese Woman in the Western Academy: A Critical Review" in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.


After an extensive national search, the History Faculty hired two new European historians. Assistant Professor Jeffrey Ravel works on the politics of theater in eighteenth-century France. Effective July 1, 1997, he will teach courses on early modern and modern Europe, and on Latin America. Assistant Professor Lora Wildenthal has published several articles on German women in the colonial territories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Effective July 1, 1998, she will teach subjects related to race, gender and modern German history. Professor Maier continues as the Affirmative Action Officer. The department continues to search for target of opportunity appointments in all fields, but particularly in African and African-American history.


Associate Professor Christian Appy; Professors Maier, Mazlish, Perdue, Richardson, Arthur J. Conner Professor Harriet Ritvo and Associate Professor Elizabeth Wood participated in the joint Ph.D. program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology, by teaching graduate seminars, supervising general exams, or conducting tutorials. Professor John W. Dower and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, Professor Philip S. Khoury advised advanced graduate students at Harvard in Japanese and Middle Eastern history, respectively.

Enrollments in history courses were 331 in Fall, 1996 and 464 in Spring, 1997. Three students majored and thirteen students minored in history. The most popular subjects included: 21H102 Emergence of Modern America (32), 21H132 The Vietnam War (35), the ever popular 21H301 Ancient World: Greece (61), and 21H302 Ancient World: Rome (80), 21H433 The Age of Reason (35), 21H502 Revolution in China (26), 21H467J Soviet Politics and Society (30). A new course, "Downtown", by Professor Robert Fogelson, attracted 31 students.

Dean Khoury and Mr. Warren Seamans led freshman advisor seminars on "Conflict and Peace in the Contemporary Middle East" and "MIT: Have You Truly Found Paradise", respectively. Associate Professor Anne McCants supervised UROP projects.

Two students wrote senior theses in History: Jacobo Orenstein-Cardona, on "U.S. Territorial Policy Toward Puerto Rico and the Philippines from 1898 to 1917", and Daniel Socoloff, on "Britain's Crimean Experiment: Foreign War as an Agent of Domestic Reform".


Jacobo Orenstein-Cardona won the Truman Fellowship, a nationally competitive award that provides for support for students interested in careers in public service. He plans to return to his native Puerto Rico to teach chemistry before continuing with graduate work in education and law.

Professors McCants and Ritvo won an award from the Class of '51 Fund for Excellence in Education and the Class of '55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching for their project "History at the Bench: Reading and Writing about Modern Europe".

Dean Khoury was elected President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and will assume office in fall 1997.


Professor Appy served on the HASS-D Overview Committee and the Committee on Curricula; Professor Richardson served on the Committee on the Writing Requirement; Professor Ritvo served on the Committees on Nominations, the Freshman Program, and chaired the Search Committee for a new Director of the MIT Museum. Professor McCants served on the Committee on the Undergraduate Program Faculty Working Group on Residence/Orientation, the CUP Subcommittee on Freshman Advising, and chaired the Truman Fellowship Committee.


The History Faculty established a new HASS concentration, "Studies in the Constitutional Tradition", with generous support from alumnus James Benenson. It provides a framework for investigating the origins and development of constitutional government in America, from the Ancient republics to the Founding Fathers. Professor Richardson directed the Kenan Sahin lecture series, which presented talks on "Finding Amos Webber: Black Life in the Nineteenth-Century North" by Professor of American History Nick Salvatore of Cornell University and "The Problem of Female Patriotism: Post-Civil War America" by Associate Professor Nina Silber of Boston University. Professor Mazlish again jointly ran the History and Literature Workshop series, and Dean Khoury directed the Bustani Seminar of Middle Eastern Studies. During IAP, Lecturer Moshe Gershovich organized a series of films and discussions entitled "Thinking Historically". Professors Wood and McCants participated in the Interdisciplinary Methodology Seminar supported by the Center for International Studies for advanced training of graduate students in Political Science.

More information about the History Faculty can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Peter C. Perdue

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97