Two weeks before the beginning of the fall semester, we welcomed a new group of editorial apprentices to the Omohundro Institute. The OI partners with William & Mary’s Lyon G. Tyler Department of History and the American Studies Program each year to administer the OI Editorial Apprenticeship Program. Now led by editors Virginia Chew and Meg Musselwhite, the decades-long program introduces entering graduate students to the practices of scholarly publishing and historical editing. Each year, students participate in two weeks of full-time training in August, followed by part-time work during the academic year on OI books and the William and Mary Quarterly. Over the years, apprentices have gone on to careers in academic and trade publishing or documentary editing. Many have continued to pursue research and teaching, armed with a better understanding of historical documentation, writing, and publishing conventions.
Here are the new apprentices in their own words.
Daniella F. Bassi: A native Floridian and a Southerner, I earned my B.A. in English and music at Amherst College and my M.A. in history at the University of Vermont. After spending seven years in beautiful rural New England, I was ready for a new region but not quite ready to stop being a student. I chose the William & Mary Ph.D. program for its amazing early American history faculty and for the opportunity to work at the Omohundro Institute, which was my dream apprenticeship before I even applied. Living in the Virginia Chesapeake, whose fascinating colonial history I’d studied as a graduate student, was no small bonus. My work focuses on Euro-Amerindian cultural, economic, and diplomatic interaction in the seventeenth-century Lower South and New Netherland. The fundamental commonalities of humankind, the weight of individual agency, and the complications created by social and economic forces heavily inform my work. When I am not doing history stuff, I enjoy learning languages, playing the saxophone, going on nature walks, and traveling with my fiancé, Daniel. I am also a beer, coffee, tea, and general food snob, and I like to annoy Florida land crabs when I go home for break.
Alison Bazylinski: I am currently going into the fifth year of my doctoral work in American Studies at the College of William & Mary. I completed my B.A. at Northeastern University and my M.A. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, both in history, and working at the Omohundro Institute allows me to stay connected to new scholarship in the discipline. I am interested in pursuing a career in public history, and William & Mary’s proximity to Colonial Williamsburg is definitely an added bonus. My dissertation is a cultural history of textiles in the United States from 1920 to 1945. I examine discourses and uses circulated by producers and consumers as a way to interrogate hierarchies of race, class, and gender.
Doug Breton: As I was growing up in Virginia, my family often took me to Williamsburg on summer vacations, and it was through these trips that I first came to love William & Mary and its history. I quickly decided that I would come here someday, a goal I realized when I transferred here as an undergraduate in the fall of 2015. My time here has been both enjoyable and beneficial. Through several history classes, I discovered that I enjoyed doing research, and, while writing an honors thesis during my senior year, I decided I should continue doing this in graduate school. While looking at programs, I decided to apply to William & Mary so that I could spend one more year at this great institution and take advantage of its surrounding historical resources. All of my research as an undergraduate, including my honors thesis, focused on colonial history, so I am hoping to branch out as a graduate student by studying how the ideals of the Revolutionary War were altered to justify various causes during the Civil War. When I am not working at the Omohundro Institute, I can often be found giving tours of the historic Wren Building.
Shannon Christensen: I am a first-year Ph.D. student at the College of William & Mary. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Florida in 2016, with degrees in history and criminology. My research interests in general are women in early America, and I hope to narrow this focus as I advance toward my Ph.D. degree. My previous research has been on the African religious diaspora and connections between the practice of Catholicism in the Kongo and religious practices in the South Carolina lowcountry, specifically how these practices influenced slave resistance and rebellion. My goal is to incorporate the study of early American women into the context of Atlantic world historiography. I chose to attend William & Mary because of its academic excellence, especially pertaining to the field of early American history, as well as its location adjacent to historic Williamsburg. I enjoy drinking coffee and reading in a comfortable chair with the company of my cat, although occasionally I explore Williamsburg and its surrounding areas.
Joan Jockel: I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the College of William & Mary. I currently hold a master’s degree in history from the University of Kansas and a bachelor of history and journalism from the University of Missouri. Over the course of my previous undergraduate and graduate career, I have engaged with the history of women, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity in early America and early modern England. My current work seeks to situate sexual violence and race within the political and cultural context of the early Atlantic world. When I’m not reading for classes or working at the Omohundro Institute, I enjoy cooking with my partner and spending time with my chocolate Labrador, my King Charles Cavalier, and my slightly overweight tabby cat.
Ryan Langton: I am currently a master’s student at William & Mary interested in studying the intersections of political, religious, and cultural identity in the early American republic and the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Originally from New Jersey, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, having completed a senior thesis focused on early United States foreign policy and the role Atlantic identity played in the rhetoric of the 1790s. Since then, I have worked as a youth development educator in Camden, New Jersey. The Omohundro Institute is at the forefront of early American scholarship, and I am excited to be involved in the process of editing and publishing these histories of early America.
Joseph Lawless: I am currently a doctoral student in the American Studies Program at the College of William & Mary, with an interest in the nexus shared by law, sexuality, and digital personhood. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012; at Penn, I oriented my studies toward political theory and Continental philosophy, particularly that produced during the latter half of the twentieth century in France. From 2012 to 2014, I was a member of the Las Vegas Valley corps of Teach for America and served as the chair of the English/Language Arts department at my middle school. While teaching, I completed my M.Ed. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with an emphasis on critical pedagogy and curriculum development. In the fall of 2014, I began law school, and in 2017 I obtained my J.D. from Columbia University. My current research examines the relationship between HIV-criminalization jurisprudence and theories of the affective, as well as the effects of sexuality criminalization on the making of legal subjects. In 2018, I intend to take the Virginia bar exam and continue advocacy efforts for criminal defendants.
Annie Powell: I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the College of William & Mary. I graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with degrees in history and English. My honors thesis at Cornell examined the loyalties and motivations of the New York City printer James Rivington during the prologue to the American Revolution. In graduate school I plan to continue focusing on early American social and political history. The College’s strength in early American history, as well as its connection to the Omohundro Institute, is what drew me to the graduate program. The Omohundro Institute offers a wealth of opportunities for graduate students, from working as editorial apprentices to attending colloquia and conferences. As a student in the College and an apprentice at the Institute, I am excited for what the upcoming year holds.