Faculty Appointments: Rhae Lynn Barnes, Michael Blaakman, Iryna Vushko

June 11, 2018

Rhae Lynn Barnes (Credit: Rhae Lynn Barnes), Michael Blaakman (Credit: David C. Williard), Iryna Vushko (Credit: Iryna Vushko)

This fall, we will welcome three new faculty members to the department: Rhae Lynn Barnes (U.S. Cultural History), Michael Blaakman (American Revolutionary Era), and Iryna Vushko (Modern Continental Europe).


Rhae Lynn Barnes will join the faculty in the fall as an assistant professor in American cultural and intellectual history, specializing in the globalization of American popular culture with interests in the history of racism, racial formation, gender, sexuality, book history, and representation in North American popular culture. Since earning her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2016, she has been a fellow at USC’s Society of Fellows where she created a digital humanities study abroad program in Paris focused on global African diaspora called "Sojourners: Black Popular Culture in Paris Noir," an NEH Visiting Scholar at Bard Graduate Center to study nineteenth-century American material culture, and was elected Vice President (President-Elect) of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography for 2018-2020. She is also the Editor and CEO of US History Scene (www.ushistoryscene.com), which provides open access teaching resources to thousands of public schools in the United States through partnerships with university libraries, archives, and special collections at UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Chicago. Her forthcoming book, Darkology: When the American Dream Wore Blackface, which maps the political, economic, and cultural geography of amateur blackface by laying bare its unstudied bibliographic history, received funding from the Library of Congress, the Western History Association, the Society for American Music, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Bibliographical Society of America. She is also serving as an Executive Advisor with Henry Louis Gates Jr. to the four-part PBS documentary series “Reconstruction and the Rise of Jim Crow” (airing 2019).


Michael Blaakman will join the faculty in the fall as an assistant professor of early North America. His teaching and research interests center on politics, empires, and borderlands in the age of the American Revolution and early republic, and also include gender history, the history of capitalism, and microhistory.

His book manuscript, Speculation Nation: Land and Mania in the Revolutionary American Republic, 1776-1803, received the 2017 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Dissertation Prize, and is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press. By examining the political and financial culture of a frenzied land rush that swept the new nation, this study reveals how land speculators sought to profit off the ideologies and upheaval of the American Revolution. Speculation Nation argues that the resulting alliance between capital and fledgling U.S. governments helped create a republican empire premised on the conquest and sale of Native American land.

Blaakman received his Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2016. He is currently an Assistant Professor of History at the University of St. Thomas.


Iryna Vushko will join the faculty in the fall as an assistant professor of modern continental Europe. She is currently Assistant Professor of History at Hunter College.

Vushko specializes in the history of modern Eastern Europe. She received her Ph.D. at Yale University in 2008 and has held several postdoctoral fellowships in Europe and at Harvard. At Hunter, she teaches courses on modern Europe, Eastern Europe, imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. Her first monograph, The Politics of Cultural Retreat: Imperial Bureaucracy in Austrian Galicia, 1772-1867, was published in 2015 with Yale University Press. The book won the 2016 Kulczycki Prize for the best monograph in any areas of Polish studies and was shortlisted for the 2016 Joseph Rothschild Book Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies. She is currently working on the second book, tentatively titled From Empire to Nation States, which traces the lives of twenty-five individuals who started their careers in the Austrian Empire and who after 1918 parted ways into different successor states.