The History Department is pleased to announce that two of our Ph.D. students, Patrick Harris and Caitlyn Perry-Dial, have received Dissertation Completion Fellowships from Western Michigan University. These awards will allow both Patrick and Caitlyn to work full-time in 2014-2015 on their dissertations.
Patrick grew up in Harrison Township near Detroit and received his Bachelor’s degree from Oakland University in 1999. The interests he developed there in South Asian cross-cultural and inter-religious interactions led him to pursue a Master's in Eastern Classics at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he graduated in 2002. He then went to Eastern Illinois University, where he earned another Master’s degree in 2006 focused on post-Reconquista social and cultural change in thirteenth-century Mallorca.
Patrick’s dissertation, "Communal Coalescence: Christian Coexistence in Twelfth-Century Toledo," examines how three disparate Christian communities—Franks, northern Spaniards, and Mozarabs—came to achieve a level of homogenization during the period between the conquest of Toledo in 1085 and the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. The attempt at achieving Christian unity in Toledo was part of the larger reform movement spearheaded by the papacy and utilized by the kings of Castile and the archbishops of Toledo to reinforce their authority, quell dissidents, and focus their attention upon the war against Islam.
A native Michigander, Caitlyn is a proud supporter of Michigan history and museums. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Michigan State University in 2007 and her Master of Arts in History from Wayne State University in 2009. She is the former curator at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph.
Her dissertation is titled, "Only the River Remains: History and Memory of the Eastland Disaster in the Great Lakes Region, 1915-present." Her study analyzes how a tragic event like the Eastland Disaster can be privately remembered by victims and survivors and forgotten in public memory. Her study claims that private, personal memories can inform public remembrances and eventually establish themselves within a public narrative.