Workshops listed below are open to all members of the Duke community.  Visitors from off-campus are welcome at all Public Events listed below.  Please check back regularly for updates.

All lab events are free and take place in 101 Classroom Building
unless otherwise noted.


Summer 2020 Events

August 7, 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Virtual Workshop) – Summer Interns’ Symposium. 

Come join the MicroWorlds faculty and fellows at a symposium to showcase the work of our summer undergraduate interns. Topics range across many fields and time periods of history: African-American history and civil rights, contemporary Asian history, race in America, women and medicine in Europe, modern Latin America, gender in rural America, Britain during World War II.

  • Our interns: Angela Chung (ICS), Lindsay Dial (Linguistics and German), Tessa Delgo, Kelis Johnson (Psychology and Philosophy), Maddie Fowler (Program II), Hannah Thurston (History, Political Science), and Catherine Martinez (Public Policy, ICS, Markets & Management).
  • Host: Kristina Williams (MicroWorlds Summer Fellow)
  • Commentator: Jessica Hauger (MicroWorlds Summer Fellow)

Zoom Meeting Information:


July 30, 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Virtual Workshop) – Mission Records as Method: Towards a Microhistory of Global China A Virtual Workshop with Dr. Eugenio Menegon.

Christians help reveal new facets of life in a China increasingly connected globally?   Join us as Eugenio Menegon reflects on the methods of  “global micro-history” as a way to explore globalization and the connections between China and the world.

To facilitate engagement, attendants are encouraged to read Menegon’s 2020 article, “Telescope and Microscope. A Micro-historical Approach to Global China in the Eighteenth Century.”

Zoom Meeting Information:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 412 010 7408
Passcode: 954084


Spring 2020 Events

March 5, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) – Digital Scholarship Workshop I: Managing Archival Materials as Data with Will Shaw and Joseph Mulligan. 

Ever wondered how to store and organize the many photographs and scans you collect during a visit to the archives? How can digital tools make your life as a researcher easier?

In this workshop, participants will learn how to create an archive of visual materials for research using Tropy. Tropy is an image management toolkit that allows users to organize images, record metadata about them, transcribe text from manuscripts or printed material and export data for other uses. This workshop demonstrates how Tropy can be an integral part of your archival research workflows and explores the processes and organizational strategies that allow users to make the most of the software.

Lunch will be served.


March 6, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) – A Dissertation Chapter Workshop with Travis Knoll. Dom Adriano Hipólito, a noted liberationist bishop in Brazil cut out his daily newspaper clipping to send to the Nova Iguacu Dioceses’ human rights division. He noticed an article on adapting African-rooted religious customs to the Catholic liturgy. The National Bishops’ Conference (CNBB) that year (1988) had centered their annual social justice “Fraternity” initiative on the inequalities and discrimination experienced by the country’s Afro-Brazilian population. As he finished his clipping, he thought of the controversy he had seen play out in the church and the press surrounding the Church’s decision to highlight race. Years before in 1978, he had sided with those who said a focus on identity and culture-mostly through soccer and music-did little to help the marginalized of the Baixada Fluminense on Rio de Janeiro’s urban periphery. Did he change? If so, how did that evolution reflect changing conditions in his city? If not, how did the Diocese develop strong Black movements regardless?

Lunch will be served.


March 19, 2020, 12:00 pm – 2:30 (Conference)– Getting What You Came For: Conferences And Why They Matter with Kristina Williams and Ayanna Legros. Conferences are a vital part of the graduate experience as they provide students with the opportunity to engage with scholars outside of their home institution. However, many graduate students find they do not have the tools needed to navigate these spaces. This event is designed to bring together advanced and junior graduate students to discuss how to access and navigate both small and large conferences. This event is open to graduate students of all levels across disciplines.

  • The first half of the workshop will provide practical tools and knowledge (i.e., applying for funding, organizing panels, avoiding conference burnout).
  • The second half will give graduate students the opportunity to practice the dreaded “elevator pitch” in a non-judgmental environment with their peers.

Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP to


March 20, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) -“Monsters, Murder, and Mayhem in Microhistorical Analysis”Professor Jay Smith, Department of History, UNC-Chapel Hill, teaches a first-year seminar that explores the distinctive features of microhistorical approaches to the past and the attractions of
microhistory for the practicing historian. His students read a rich sampling of recent work and try their hand at writing their own microhistories.
Join us for a discussion of why undergraduates see microhistories as an intriguing way to understand historical problems. Lunch will be served.

Jay M. Smith is a specialist in early-modern France. Smith has written
about the development of royal absolutism, the emergence of patriotic
habits of thought under the old regime, the origins of the French
Revolution, the history of the nobility, and the fascinating legend
surrounding the Beast of the Gévaudan.


Previous Fall Events 2019

February 21, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) -Training Future Humanists: Critical Approaches to Undergraduate Teaching in History and Beyond. Undergraduate instruction is a vital part of being an academic, and yet many graduate students pursuing faculty positions at colleges and universities do not receive comprehensive pedagogical training. This workshop aims to provide graduate students with a tool kit, one that will support your efforts in getting undergraduate students to think critically about the material they encounter inside and outside of the classroom. The workshop will be led by Professor Sam Fury Childs Daly, Professor Sally Deutsch, and Professor Cecilia Marquez. Graduate students of all levels and backgrounds are welcome to attend.
Lunch will be provided!

February 17, 2020, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm (Workshop) -Doing History: Analyzing Primary Sources with Shahrazad ShareefHistorians study documents and objects left from the past. They call these items primary sources. In this workshop, we will learn and practice some essential tools for engaging primary sources. Our goal in these exercises will be not to interpret the documents at hand, but rather to craft historical questions about the sources and topics of our investigation.

Undergraduates and graduate students are welcome. Bring a source with you! Pizza and beverages will be provided.

February 10, 2020, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm (Workshop) Microhistory of a Jewish Community. Newly discovered material from the High Court of the Holy Roman Empire provides a point of departure for understanding the overlap of Jewish and Christian societies in Medieval and early modern history. It also highlights the variety of Jewish experiences in early modern daily life.

We will use primary source material from an eighteenth-century court case from Frankfurt am Main to think about questions of agency, communal history, gendered realities, and performance of religious difference.

Light refreshments will be served.

Verena Kasper-Marienberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at North Carolina State University. She received her BA and MA in Rhetorical Studies and History from the University of Tübingen, Germany. Kasper-Marienberg earned her Ph.D. at the University of Graz, Austria, in 2009 in History and Historical Museology (Public History). Her research focuses on the intersection of Jewish and Christian communities in the early modern period in Europe.


February 7, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) Material Objects, Their Meanings & the People Drawn to Them: A MicroWorlds Workshop: Actor-Network Theory. Ever been intrigued by an image, a painting, a document? Might such inanimate objects have their own agency? Do they create webs of meaning through people who seek to understand them? Explore with David Morgan, Professor of Religious Studies at Duke, how to study objects – historical or contemporary, visual or material – as if they have their own agency, powers of attraction. Professor Morgan will introduce participants to Actor-Network Theory and explore with us its possible uses in historical and cultural analysis. For all researchers curious about how to understand an object and the worlds they create. Lunch will be provided!

 Participants should read Chapter 4 of Prof. Morgan’s book, Images at Work, and come prepared for discussion. This workshop is intended for graduate students and faculty.

February 5, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Public Event) – UNSUITABLE #27: What Does a Literary Agent Actually Do? The publishing industry worldwide is undergoing a revolutionary change in the digital age. Kimberly Whalen, president of The Whalen Agency, will share stories from her career representing bestselling authors of both romance and general fiction, and talk about the challenges and opportunities in the industry today. ALL ARE WELCOME. Light refreshments will be served. This is an UNSUITABLE Series event.

Sponsors: Humanities Unbounded Microworlds Lab; Forum for Scholars & Publics; Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies

December 3, 2019, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) – Teaching Innovation in the MicroWorlds Lab. Interested in new approaches to teaching? Join the MicroWorlds faculty & graduate students as they discuss teaching in this humanities lab. Lunch will be provided. Please R.S.V.P to

November 25, 2019, 10:00 pm – 11:30 pm (Workshop) – Talking Houses: Stories from a Small Hungarian Town.A video conference workshop with researchers at the Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg. Interested in an innovative approach to urban and local history? Want to present those in an engaging way? Come to the MicroWorlds Lab and learn about a creative approach to everyday life that combines history with art, literature, and music. To access sample stories, go to
Light refreshments will be served.

November 22, 2019, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (Workshop) – A Dissertation Chapter Workshop with Hannah Ontiveros.
Paper Abstract: “Catgut in God’s Hands” examines the relief work that the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, a group of Roman Catholic nuns based in upstate New York, carried out in their Pusan, South Korea mission during and following the Korean War. This chapter illustrates how gendered labor operated in relief work in Korea, drawing attention in particular to the Janus-faced nature of the Sisters’ commitments: though they created a highly empowered female community (and perhaps because of that), they also adhered to the traditionalist gender hierarchy of the Church and the era. This chapter showcases how the Maryknoll Sisters, more so than other Christian organizations working in Korea at the time, understood their politics, medical work, and patriotic service through their duty to God. Viewing themselves as a tool of God—“catgut in god’s hands,” ready to stitch together the wounds of the world—these women framed their risky, sometimes deadly, service in Korea as a function of Catholic vocation. As such, the Sisters serve as a dramatic example of American mobilization in Korea, where state and religious institutions worked in tandem to perform gendered caring labor in the service of the American empire. Light refreshments will be served.

November 19, 2019, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm (Workshop) – The Paris 1572 Project: Collaborative Research in the History Classroom. Looking for new ways to discover the excitement of historical research? Join Tom Robisheaux and the students of his MicroWorlds course as they discuss their Paris
1572 Project. This collaborative research project explores the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the dynamics of religious violence in the French capital. Reflect with us on how collaborative research can transform the classroom…and the students who take part in it.
Food and drinks will be provided.

November 15, 2019, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (Workshop) – A Dissertation Chapter Workshop with Aaron Colston. 
Paper Abstract: This chapter examines community organizing on the South Carolina Sea Islands in the years before prominent civil rights organizations were recognized for the same strategy. The community organizing effort led by Septima Clark (then Director of Workshops of Highlander Folk School) formed a citizenship program in 1957 which, in turn, provided a model for voter education in the grassroots struggle for African-American citizenship in the decade which followed. This chapter posits, however, that a concern more fundamental than voter education—development—cohered literacy instruction, cooperatives, and health initiatives into a total program of community organizing on the Sea Islands. In the same way, the Sea Islands were neither isolated from the South Carolina mainland or the Atlantic World in the age of colonization, slavery and emancipation, the Sea Islands were not isolated from ongoing discourse or debates about modes of societal development that were part and parcel of Cold War political culture. Light refreshments will be served.

November 15, 2019, 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm (Workshop) – Radicalism Between Race, Class and Generation: Conversation on the Social History of Modern Hungary. Come and join an informal conversation with Károly Halmos, visiting Erasmus Scholar, about modern Hungary. The experiences of radicalism, socialism, war and revolution are shared across Europe and Central
Europe. Yet the Hungarian histories of race, class and cross-generational change are unique. An open conversation especially for history faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Faculty: please circulate to your undergraduate students!
Light refreshments will be served.

November 13, 2019, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm (Workshop) – Julius Szekfű and the Books of Ezekiel: Patriarch Joseph used as an Anti-
Semitic Topos.
How do we conceive and write modern history? What assumptions do modern historians make? Everyone knows the work of the
German historian Leopold von Ranke. But there were others who at the same time were sketching out ways to conceive the new discipline of history. Join Károly Halmost (ELTE, Budapest) in a discussion of the famous Hungarian historian, Julius Szekfű, who set out to create a new “historical-political” approach to the
discipline of history.

November 11, 2019, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (Workshop) – Narrating the Execution of Charles I, 1649. On the cold and blustery morning of January 30, 1649, Charles was escorted to the execution “stage” in front of the Banqueting House of Whitehall, London. Tens of thousands packed around every side to catch even the slightest glimpse of the swinging axe. The cheers, jeers, and prayers of the crowd proved deafening, as the published transcript of Charles’ final words contains omissions included by the scribes. Finally, as the executioner severed the king’s head from his body, an infamous “groan” sounded over the cacophony before mounted police galloped through the crowd to quickly disband the mass. In this workshop, participants will create their own short “thick description” of Charles’s execution. The exercise will demonstrate how primary source materials (maps, diary entries, transcripts) can be read and interpreted to help modern culture understand experiences of the past through sound, the senses, and emotions. RSVP at

November 8, 2019, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm (Workshop) Meeting Capitalism in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Pest (Hungary). How did the new enterprises associated with capitalism transform the economy and businesses in a nineteenth-century European city? This workshop explores this problem by studying bankruptcy cases in the old commercial center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Pest, Hungary. Participants will examine primary sources and the methods of modern economic history during that time period to draw conclusions.
Light refreshments will be served.

November 4, 2019, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (Workshop) – Emotional Breakdown: A Collaborative Workshop on Analyzing Emotions within Your Research. Studying emotions can be complicated. This workshop is a chance to think collaboratively with peers to break down what emotions mean within your own work. Whether your research is entirely focused on emotions or emotion is one facet of a project you are working on, this workshop is for you. Bring a short piece of writing (up to 2 pages) related to emotions: your own writing, a historical source or piece of literature, or a section of a scholarly work. After a one-hour workshop, there will be an optional writing hour. Workshop: 12:00 pm -1:00 pm, writing hour: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty are welcome.
Lunch will be served.  

November 1, 2019, 11:45 am-1:00 pm (Workshop) – What Undid Chinese State Medicine? Associate Professor Miriam Gross, the University of Oklahoma. The standard narrative of state medicine in the People’s Republic of China moves from wild success with the barefoot doctors in the 1960s-70s to disastrous demise in the 1980s with reform policies and economic liberalization. Professor Miriam Gross has uncovered evidence from county archives that upturns this narrative on both ends. Come join Professor Nicole Barnes’ “History of Chinese Medicine” class to discover how microhistory of state medicine at the village level challenges dominant narratives.

Miriam Gross is an Associate Professor of History and International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She teaches courses on Chinese and East Asian history and on environmental and disease crises and rural life in China. Professor Gross’ research focuses on the history of rural public health and the popularization of science during the 1950s in China. Her book Farewell to the God of Plague, published by the University of California Press in 2016, reassesses the celebrated Maoist health care model through the lens of Mao’s famous campaign against snail fever. She received her Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Modern Chinese History from the University of California, San Diego.

Co-Sponsors: Asian & Middle Eastern Studies Department, and Duke University Libraries.

October 14, 2019, 5:00pm – 7:00pm (Workshop) – Graduate Student Grant Workshop. This workshop provides humanities graduate students with a chance to fine-tune fall proposals through a peer-review process. We will conduct a series of short reading and critique sessions in pairs, concentrating on but not limited to the critical first page of each grant proposal. The structure of this workshop aims to mirror the speed and interdisciplinarity of formal grant review processes. Students at all levels applying for any grant are welcome. Please bring multiple hard copies of the proposal in question. Students in all humanities programs welcome. Food will be provided.

October 12, 2019, 8:30pm – 5:00pm (Workshop) – An Egyptian Sheikh’s Literary World: Digitally Reconstructing Islamic Print Culture Through Mustafa Salamah al-Najjari’s Book Collection. Organized by Adam Mestyan and Kathryn Schwartz. The purpose of this workshop is to advance our project to reconstruct nineteenth-century Islamic book collection (approx. 450 titles, half manuscript –half printed books) from Cairo. We aim to create a full data set of bibliographical data with around fifty-five categories (a total of 27,000 variables); and an XML TEI born-digital document through GitHub. We invite leading scholars and librarians to guide us on our methodology, data collection, presentation of data, and next steps. Our ultimate goal is to build an English-Arabic website for the purposes of teaching, research, visualization, and public engagement. This workshop is also a preparation for an ACLS and NEH project (re-)submission.

Co-sponsored by Duke Middle East Studies Center, Duke University Library, History Department (Speakers & Seminars Committee), and the MicroWorlds Lab.

October 11, 2019, 2:00pm – 3:30pm (Workshop) – “Finding Stories in the Archives” with Amy McDonald and Katie Henningsen. At first glance, ledgers of financial information frequently found in archival collections might not seem a likely source for exciting research discoveries. By using payroll ledgers from the late 1920s, participants will put together an intriguing story about the labor involved in the construction of East and West Campus.

Undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty are welcome.

October 10, 2019, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Workshop) -“Forming Intimate Communities in Modern China,” Book Discussion with Nicole Barnes. Join us for a book discussion of Nicole Barnes’s recent book, Intimate Communities: Wartime Healthcare and the Birth of Modern China, 1937-1945. In this book, Professor Barnes examines how the women who worked as nurses, doctors, and midwives during China’s War of Resistance created emotional bonds that brought the nation together. Participants should expect an open-ended discussion focusing on how her book approaches emotions as part of larger historical questions. Together, we will think about how analyzing emotions enables us to better understand the history of medicine and the formation of a modern nation. Lunch will be served.

Intimate Communities is available to download for free from the University of California Press.


September 9, 2019, 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Workshop) – Turning Trial Records into History. Trial records can be rich sources for researching and writing history. They point us to tensions and conflicts that often lie below the surface – in any society, at any time. So join us in exploring how trial records can open up new understandings of problems that engage us all. This workshop opens up fascinating new views of sexuality, for example. Join Anderson Hagler as he examines a sodomy case that took place in Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1731. A Spanish man accused two indigenous Pueblo men of committing sodomy in the countryside. Workshop participants will interrogate the document and propose multiple interpretations about its formulaic structure and attempt to connect this case to a broader historical trend about colonization in the Americas.

Previous Summer Events 2019

June 14 – 28, 2019, 8:00am – 5:00pm (Summer Camp) – Drone Innovation Camp. Drones have become more than just toys. Drones are tools that are being used in medicine, research, investigations, consumer use, and in so many other ways. Drone technology is revolutionizing everyday life and projected to be a multibillion-dollar industry over the next ten years. Participants in the Drone Innovation Camp @ Duke will learn problem-solving skills using the engineering design process by custom designing their own drone on CAD, 3D printing their creation, building, & testing their drones.

Previous Events in Spring 2019

April 3, 2019, 12:00-1:00pm (Public Event)“Diversity in Romance Publishing: An insider’s perspective” with Latoya Smith.  What does the world of romance fiction publishing look like from the perspective of an agent? Or an editor? Or an agent and editor whose goal is to help authors of color and stories that celebrate diversity succeed in this competitive industry? With thirteen years of experience as both an editor and agent, Latoya Smith of LCS Literary Services will share her stories, including a day-in-the-life snapshot of working in today’s publishing industry.  This is an UNSUITABLE Series event.

March 27, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop) – “From Persecution to Revolution: A Jewish-Gentile Local Community in Budapest from 1938 to 1956,” with Erika Szívós, (Eötvös Loránd University, ELTE), Budapest. How does one use the craft of microhistory to understand the dynamics of a big city local community? Join Erika Szívós and the students of the Microhistory Seminar in a workshop discussing the sources, methods and interpretive challenges of reconstructing the history of an urban neighborhood that passed through the traumas of the Nazi era and early Communism. This workshop is for all faculty, graduate students and undergraduates interested in learning the tools of microhistory as they might be used in modern urban history.

March 26, 2019, 6:00-7:30pm (Public Lecture) – “Exploring the Jewish Life Worlds of Historic Budapest: Jewish Heritage and the Greater Public since 1990” with Erika Szívós, (Eötvös Loránd University, ELTE), Budapest, Rubenstein Library 249. In recent decades, the revival of distinct quarters of Budapest has been intertwined with the rediscovery of the city’s Jewish heritage. Jewish cultural and religious traditions, which had existed only in latent or strongly limited forms prior to 1990, became explicit and visible after the fall of Communism and began to shape the identities of certain Budapest neighborhoods in quite overt ways. The remembrance of collective traumas has finally become possible to express in the public sphere, and, as a result, Jewish places of memory have multiplied in the city’s urban space since 1990. Remembering the Jewish past of Budapest, however, has several dimensions today which are not at all related to persecution, World War II, and the Holocaust. Initiatives which aim to present former Jewish life worlds to a broader audience, in fact, challenge the earlier dominance of the Holocaust in public memory. This lecture aims to explore recent practices of remembrance, stressing the diverse and creative ways the city’s Jewish history is remembered and exploited today (e. g. city walks, educational and museum projects, commemorations, festivals, theatre performances, book publishing, oral history archives, and local community initiatives.) Refreshments will be served following the talk.

March 26, 2019, 12:00-1:30pm (Workshop) – “Emotions, Religious Experience, & the Emergence of Psychiatric Medicine: Exploring the Case of the Seeress of Prevorst.” Facilitated by Tom Robisheaux & Meghan Woolley. The Emotions Research Group invites you to join Tom Robisheaux in a collaborative exploration of one of the sensational cases from the beginning of modern psychiatric medicine. When Friedericke Hauffe, the young peasant woman later known as the seeress, fell ill and lapsed into a somnambulic state, physicians from across Germany came to study her illness and the uncanny experiences of the spirit world that she and others reported. How might one understand such an account about illness, emotional experience, and spirits? What challenges do the source and Hauffe’s case present the historian and the social science researcher? What theories of emotions might help make sense of the experience of a female somnambulist and those fascinated by her case? Participants in this workshop will read and discuss the evidence from the provocative medical case history written about her: The Seeress of Prevorst (1845). The excerpts from The Seeress of Prevorst (1845) will be sent to all participants, who should come ready for an open-ended discussion about it and what it might suggest about the history of emotions. RSVP to

March 22, 2019, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Public Event) – “Making Love out of History: 19th-century pleasure gardens and modern romance fiction” with Theresa Romain.  Question: How does an author of novels that require both historical accuracy and romance that resonates with 21st-century readers maintain the balance between authenticity and pleasurable fantasy? Answer: She plucks from actual history truly astonishing stories and then drops her vibrant, unique characters right into the middle of them. In this workshop, consummate storyteller Theresa Romain will share her experiences using research into real history to craft moving love stories for modern readers.  Romain is the author of The Prodigal Duke and more than a dozen acclaimed works of historical fiction.  This is an UNSUITABLE Series event.

March 7, 2019, 12:00-1:00pm (Public Event) – “Microhistory and The Revolt of Snowballs luncheon with Professor Claire Judde de Larivière (Université Toulouse II, Département d’histoire, Toulouse, France). Join Claire Judde de Larivière for a casual conversation about her new book, The Revolt of Snowballs, microhistory, and Venetian history today. Graduate students especially welcome. RSVP to

March 6, 2019, 6:30-9:00pm (Public Event/Workshop) – “Microhistory and The Revolt of Snowballs with Professor Claire Judde de Larivière (Université Toulouse II, Département d’histoire, Toulouse, France). How did Claire Judde de Larivière’s new microhistory, The Revolt of Snowballs, come about? What methods and sources brought her study of the “people’s” rebellion of 1511 in Venice to life? In this workshop Larivière discusses the sources and methods that made this riveting history possible.

March 5, 2019, 4:30-6:00pm  (Public Event) “Everyday Politics of the ‘People’ in Venice” with Professor Claire Judde de Larivière (Université Toulouse II, Département d’histoire, Toulouse, France), 240 Classroom BuildingVenice is widely known as one of the great republics of Renaissance Europe. In an age when monarchies and empires concentrated power in the hands of princes and kings, the “people” (popolo) of Venice continued to play a dynamic role in shaping the city-state’s history and empire. But who exactly were the popolo by the time of the Renaissance? Claire Judde de Larivière sketches out approaches to understanding this omnipresent, but often invisible, segment of the Venetian republic.

March 1, 2019, 1:30pm-3:30pm (Special Student Event) – STORYTELLING FRIDAY.  Research can lead to moving, unexpected, and funny untold moments from history.  We want to hear about them!  At this informal gathering, in a 3-5-minute story show off your favorite tidbit from history that you’ve uncovered in research.  Make it mysterious; make it romantic or harrowing; make it insightful or funny or tragic; make it a story you can tell at a party or an interview. Whatever way you can, make it memorable. Food and drinks will be provided. All students welcome! RSVP

February 28, 2019, 12:00-1:30pm (Workshop) – “Graduate Students Building Professional Networks.” Come and join the Conversation with Maria LaMonaca Wisdom (Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities), Sheila Dillon (Chair of Art, Art History& Visual Studies), and Ashton Merck (Ph.D. candidate in History) about thinking imaginatively about professional networks for humanities graduate students. Lunch provided. RSVP to

February 27, 2019, 6:30pm – 7:30pm (Workshop) – “Thick Description” with Nick Smolenski. Thick description, first used by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, incorporates context to better understand a person, a community, or a place. Students will use diary entries, court records, and maps to create their own thick description in a first-person narrative, contextualizing the execution of King Charles I on 30 January, 1649 in London. Particular focus on the senses, on sounds of the early modern city, and on political frameworks will enable students of any academic focus to construct an impactful narrative.

February 20, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop)Finding Women’s Voices in the Archive” with Jacqueline Allain. This workshop will introduce students to methods of reading male-authored historical documents for women’s voices. Analyzing letters from the 19th-century Caribbean concerning the treatment of incarcerated women, we will learn how to read between the lines of white male-authored texts to gauge the political subjectivities of female prisoners. The methods we will use are useful not only for the reading of women’s voices, but those of all marginalized historical subjects.

February 15, 2019, 12:00-1:00pm (Public Event/Workshop) Cruise Ships, Cops, and the Black-Market Organ Trade: Researching real microworlds to write fiction” with Sonali Dev.  Authors of fiction often begin their novels with inspiration from real events or people, bending and blending those through the art of storytelling to create entertainment. Navigating those pathways between reality and fiction without sacrificing detail or authenticity can be a thrilling, albeit delicate and sometimes complex, dance. In this workshop, award-winning author Sonali Dev will share the joys and challenges of researching real-life worlds to create larger-than-life fictional love stories.  Dev is the author of A Distant Heart and three other award-winning novels.  This is an UNSUITABLE Series event.

February 14, 2019, 5:30-7:00 pm (Public Event/Workshop) – “Working on Women’s Life Stories” with Professor Laura Nenzi (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), 225 Friedl Building. This workshop, part of Professor Simon Partner’s HST550S course (Life Stories), will explore the challenges of writing the life stories of women. Professor Nenzi is the author of The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan. After a brief presentation of Professor Nenzi’s book project and the challenges it involved, the workshop will explore selected archival sources and discuss their implications for developing narratives of women’s lives. The workshop is open to all, and should be of particular interest to graduate students and faculty in the humanities. Contact for an extract from the book.

February 13, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop) – “Turning Trial Records into History” with Anderson Hagler. This workshop will examine an excerpt from a sodomy case that took place in Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1731. A Spanish man accused two indigenous Pueblo men of committing sodomy in the countryside. Participants will interrogate the document and propose multiple interpretations about its formulaic structure and attempt to connect this case to a broader historical trend about colonization in the Americas.

February 6, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop) – “Ephemera as Historical Objects” with Katarzyna Stempniak and Nicholas Smolenski, 150 Rubenstein Library. This workshop will introduce students to the importance of critical research in historical ephemera, or transitory documents created for a specific purpose and intended to be thrown away. Application of this methodology will focus on local signage, political endorsements, and business advertisements in America, c. 1860–70. Absence and redaction, as it relates to ephemera, will also be studied within these documents, particularly within the methodologies of social networks, scale, and thick description.

February 1, 2019, 12:30-1:00pm (Workshop) – “From Idea to Research with Jordan Sjol.  Sjol reprises his workshop for undergraduate students on making your way from the initial brilliant idea for a term or year-length project through the steps of doing the actual research.

January 31, 2019, 4:40-5:30pm (Workshop) – “Finding Women’s Voices in the Archive” with Jacqueline Allain, 241 Classroom Building. This workshop will introduce students to methods of reading male-authored historical documents for women’s voices. Analyzing letters from the 19th-century Caribbean concerning the treatment of incarcerated women, we will learn how to read between the lines of white male-authored texts to gauge the political subjectivities of female prisoners. The methods we will use are useful not only for the reading of women’s voices, but those of all marginalized historical subjects.

January 30, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop) – “Narrative” with Nicholas Huber. This workshop primes students to think about the pervasiveness of narrative and its affordances and limitations for microhistorical work. Through a series of exercises, we touch on questions of narrative construction, form, contests over (mis)representation and “truth,” and making compositional choices about inclusion and exclusion.

January 29, 2019, 1:25-2:40pm (Workshop) – “Close Reading Primary Sources” with Thomas Robisheaux workshop for Professor Nicole Barnes’ HST 220 History of Global Health Class. The cornerstone of microhistorical research, indeed historical research in general, is the work with primary sources. Primary sources are usually texts, documents, records, printed books or written manuscripts from the historical time that is the object of a research project. Using a primary source we discuss – then practice – the three steps in reading a primary source carefully in order to develop an historical interpretation. The aim of the workshop is helping develop critical ability to engage a source, assess its usefulness and credibility, identify questions that need to be answered in order to understand the source in its historical context, and then practice developing an historical interpretation using a source.

January 25, 2019, 3:30-5:00pm (Workshop) – “Close Reading Primary Sources” with Thomas Robisheaux. The cornerstone of microhistorical research, indeed historical research in general, is the work with primary sources. Primary sources are usually texts, documents, records, printed books or written manuscripts from the historical time that is the object of a research project. Using a primary source we discuss – then practice – the three steps in reading a primary source carefully in order to develop an historical interpretation. The aim of the workshop is helping develop critical ability to engage a source, assess its usefulness and credibility, identify questions that need to be answered in order to understand the source in its historical context, and then practice developing an historical interpretation using a source.

January 23, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm (Workshop) – “From Topic to Archive” with Jordan Sjol. This workshop will focus on the rather daunting and somewhat obscure phase of work that happens between choosing an archival research topic and setting foot in an archive.  In general, it will cover:

  • Refining a research idea into a specific archive-researchable topic(s)
  • Building a list of potential archives (including options less obvious than the usual suspects)
  • Triaging potential archives to create a short-list worth pursuing
  • Contacting archivists
  • Planning a research trip
  • Keeping track of your work every step of the way.

It will also attend to the iterative nature of this phase of work, with each subsequent step likely to lead a researcher back to a previous step.

January 23, 2019, 12:00-1:00pm (Public Event) From Biology to Books: An Unexpected Journey” with Stephanie Stegemoller & Caitlynne Garland, Founders of Dog-Eared Books. The founders of Dog-Eared Books met while getting their Bachelor’s degrees in Biology, of all things. Caitlynne, a shy, reticent person, picked an empty table in Genetics lab. Stephanie, gregarious and outgoing, picked the same table, began talking, and the two have been fast friends ever since. Stephanie and Caitlynne will share the story of their journey from school to bookstores, how they created a mission to ensure that every person who wants to read has the ability to do so, and what they’ve learned about the big business of bookselling along the way.

January 14, 2019, 12:00-1:30pm (Workshop) Emotions Research Group Discussion” with Bill Reddy, one of the field’s leaders in the history of emotions, will lead us in a discussion of how to approach researching emotions. A pre-circulated paper, using examples of emotions within the intellectual history of Early Modern Europe, will help to launch our conversation.

Previous Events in Fall 2018

December 6, 2018, 12:00-1:30pm (Workshop) – “Social Network Analysis for Humanists, Part II: Digital Visualization of Social Networks” with Professors Jim Moody and Craig Rawlings of Sociology and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

November 16, 2018, 12:00-1:30pm (Workshop)  “Social Network Analysis for Humanists, Part I: Social Networks Analysis” with Professor Jim Moody and Professor Craig Rawlings, both of the Sociology Department and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

September 21, 2018, 2:00-3:00pm (Workshop)  “Finding Stories in the Archives” with Amy McDonald and Katie L.B. Henningsen.  It’s easy to spot stories in letters and diaries, but what about other documents?  How can ledgers and account books reveal stories?  Using examples from the Rubenstein Library’s University Archives, we’ll explore how different types of primary sources can be put into conversation with one another to uncover stories in the archive.  McDonald is Assistant University Archivist and Henningsen is Head of Research Services at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.  Read more about the Rubenstein here.  This workshop is suitable for undergraduate students and also more advanced scholars.

What is a MicroWorlds Lab workshop?

A lab workshop is a 20 to 40-minute presentation on a microhistorical topic or method, or a related topic.  Presenters include Duke faculty members, students and staff, as well as guests from outside the university.  A Q&A rounds out the hour.  Attendees are encouraged to bring examples and questions from their own research projects to discuss.  All workshops take place in 101 Classroom Building and are open to everyone in the Duke community.  Course-specific Workshops (not listed above) are open only to students enrolled in the specific course.  Any Duke student or faculty member can propose a workshop.  Contact the lab conveners Tom Robisheaux ( or Katharine Brophy Dubois (

What is an Event of Interest?

An Event of Interest is any event on campus or in the area that showcases projects based in microhistorical methods.  These events are not sponsored or organized by the MicroWorlds Lab.  Event organizers are welcome to send us information about your event to add to our calendar.