Grad Students Revolution

PhD Comics is a great website that always reflects my inner struggles as a Grad Student in the funniest way. Last week, they posted a very interesting infographic called “Revolution!.” This post details some of the efforts of the grad students at University of Missouri and the members of the National Graduate and Professional Students Association to defend students’ rights in front of the economic cuts academia is facing nowadays.

Some of us will continue on PhD programs, some of us will not. Either way, it is important to keep ourselves updated and try to participate in the discussions about the future of higher education. Also, you can always follow PhD Comics because is great!

Revolution.” By PhD Comics. Posted on Oct 21, 2015.


“Making History. The Changing Face of the Profession in History”


Whether you are taking a course on historiography, Theory and Methods, studying for Comps, or simply interested in British historians, Making History. The Changing Face of the Profession in History is a good place to start. This page was developed by the Institute of Advance Research from the University of London, and is devoted to gather different resources that explore the study and practice of history in Britain over the last hundred years.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the historiographic approaches, all the authors and their trends, and even the new directions the historical praxis is taking in the last years. This website offers different alternatives through which you can refresh your memory on key general terms and scholarships, such as Long History, Microhistory, and the Cultural Turn.  You can take a look on the history of some organizations and journals, such as the British Academy or the journal Past and Present. The page also contains the biography of several British historians and their historiographic trends. What is more interesting is that some of these profiles come with interviews in which eminent authors such as Eric Hobsbawm, David Cannadine or J.H. Elliott, share their personal experience as students and professionals, and their opinions about the progression of the discipline from the perspective of their own fields and interests.

Special thanks to Professor Craig Bailey for showing us this resource in our European Historiography course.

Historians of ‘Past and Present,’ by Stephen Frederick Godfrey Farthing, 1999. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Save the date! “Bustle & Stir. Movement and Exchange in Early America.” October 8-10, 2015.


The McNeil Center for Early American Studies will be hosting the Graduate Students Conference “Bustle & Stir. Movement and Exchange in Early America.” This is an excellent opportunity to listen to different current graduate students and their researches in other universities. The aim of this conference is to discuss the importance of interdisciplinary work to study the past by examining the notions of movement and exchange in early U.S. within the broader Atlantic world before 1850.

There will be different panels throughout the three days of the event, and François Furstenberg, associated professor from Johns Hopkins University, will be in charge of the Keynote.

For more information about the conference, click here

Where: McNeil Center, 3355 Woodland Walk. (34th and Sansom Streets). Philadelphia, PA.

When: October 8 to 10, 2015

Registration is free, but required before the event.

10th Annual History Graduate Student Conference – University of Maryland

I wanted to extend an invitation for the 10th Annual History Graduate Student Conference, that will take place tomorrow at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The main theme of the conference is “Metamorphosis: Transformations of Borders, Identity, and Place.” The conference will begin with breakfast at 8:30 on the second floor of Taliaferro Hall and will feature panels throughout the day on race, Native-Settler relations, borders, and identity, with a keynote address by Prof. Pier M. Larson of Johns Hopkins University. Here you can find a detailed program of the event: 10th Annual HGSA Conference Schedule

I was selected to participate in the panel “Performing Power in Latin America” and I will present a paper of my previous research, title “Political Ceremonies and Power Ostentation: the Importance of Public Recognition in Late Colonial Caracas.”

I hope to see you there!

Newspaper Blackout and the transformation of the material culture

Austin Kleon is an artist/writer based in Texas that I have followed on Twitter for the past years. I always find his opinions very interesting, as well as his reading recommendations, drawings, pictures, etc. This guys keeps himself very busy and by now has published three books: “Newspaper Blackout,” “Steal Like an Artist,” and “Show Your Work.”

Newspaper Blackout (Cover), by Austin Kleon, 2010.

Mainly targeted for artists, “Steal Like and Artist” and “Show Your Work” are useful guides to help improve your creative process and bring your personal work into a more broader scope, meaning, publishing and exhibition. In this manners, I consider these books can help not just artists, but writers or researches to find their own voice, to develop a more structured sense of work in order to accomplish a professional path in any area you wish to develop. Personally, I have found some of his recommendations very useful into my own creative process.

“Newspaper Blackout” is the book that caught my most recent curiosity. This publication is a series of poems composed by Kleon based in newspaper articles. He read and selected a series of words along the articles to structure his own thoughts. When he had “no words,” these sources allowed him to construct new texts, it offered him the resources he did not find by himself when inspiration was missing.

It called my attention because I also linked this thought with the idea of transform material culture, a main topic we discussed in the course offered by Dr. Martinko last semester. Kleon reads the articles in his leisure time (e.g. commuting, having lunch, etc.), selects some texts, and then his creative process starts by analyzing the texts, finding the words, his words, to construct a prose. Then, with a black marker, he highlights the words he needs and covers the rest of original the piece in black. In this way, the article, the newspaper itself, transforms into something else, another artifact, a poem when the words take a different meaning and the materiality changes. I liked the way Kleon explains it in a interview :

The raw material of the article is my own poem. The poem doesn’t even resemble the old article, or is some way carries the article. It twists the article into a different meaning, but is really about the transformation of the material […] it’s the transformation of this non-fictional journalistic artifact, taking that, and make it into something very personal, that is mine, that I feel that have could come out of me […] that is the real joy…”

This transformation, by cultural meaning and materiality, was an important argument in which the readings and discussion in the Material Culture course were all about. How an artifact is seing in different ways for individuals and groups, how is transformed through space and time, and how it can also allows to connects different dimensions of meaning and contexts. In this way, I consider Kleon’s prose is also part of this process, and allows us to see the importance of material culture as a recurrent source to understand and link past with present.

Travelling Without Moving: The Villanova CAVE

Some might say imagination is all you need when you want to transport to another place, but what if you combine your imagination with technology? I think, then, the sky is the limit and this is what the CAVE is about, to have the possibility to explore different places without the need to go further, but right here, at Villanova.

Located in Old Falvey, the CAVE (Automatic Virtual Environment) was inaugurated the past fall with a ceremony leaded by the Rev. Peter M. Donohue. After the opening speeches, several tours were offered to the public along the day to know the background of this project and how it works. I was lucky enough to take part in one of these visits and the experience exceeded my expectations!

The Villanova CAVE features an 18’ by 10’ by 7.5’ high enclosure in which 10 to 15 viewers can view three-dimensional imagery and immersive data displays. It uses immersive video for telepresence applications, as well as computer-generated graphics for the 3D visualization. In simpler words, these features allow to reconstruct  any landscape or graphics in an almost 360 degree experience. The CAVE was developed under the direction of Frank Klassner, PhD, and is supported by a $1.67 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The CAVE will be primarily for educational purposes, but it will also serve as a visualization support tool for a variety of research projects across disciplines.

During the opening tours, the team behind the CAVE displayed images from the Mars surface and a partial reconstruction of the city of Philadelphia, one of their current projects. The team has been taking pictures of every place in the city with special digital cameras that will be put together to create an interactive reconstruction of the city. A recreation of the sixteenth Chapel was also shown, part of a past project that became the stepping stone of this marvelous digital experience.

As Historian, can you imagine the possibilities of the CAVE? I consider this could be a perfect opportunity to combine historical reconstruction, archeological expeditions, and public history projects. The use of the CAVE for historical research purposes could allow engage the audience into a more experiential encounter with the past. If you are interested in any of these topics, stop by Old Falvey when tours are open and experience the power of imagination and technology combined.

To know about how the CAVE works, please read this article.

CCS Permanente – Some perspectives about Tattoos in Venezuela

Hey there!

Before moving to the United States I had the opportunity to participate in a short documentary called “CCS Permanente”. This was a project developed by Film students of the Escuela Nacional de Cine (National School of Film), an important institution in Venezuela dedicated to the education and production of the film industry.


The filmmaker, Ifran Aguilar, wanted to expose how has been the progression of tattoos in Venezuela as a social and artistic phenomenon. This  query made him look for multiple answers and perspectives included in the narrative of this interesting short film. Local tattoo artist, a social psychologist, and myself, were invited to participate in this project, trying to construct the impact of the tattoo nowadays, its social and cultural implications, and its recent popularity. By doing so, he approached as well to the origins of this aesthetic phenomenon in the country and how its cultural appreciation has changed over the past years.

Ifran is now working on the English subtitles for the documentary. I promise I will post the new version once is ready. For now, those who can understand a little bit of Spanish (or if you want to check a Venezuelan film production) can watch it here: