Author Archives: bc552

About bc552

Benedetta Carnaghi is a PhD candidate in Cornell’s Department of History & the co-coordinator of Historians Are Writers! (HAW!)

Our speaker series continues! March 4 with Stephen Vider

Dear HAWers,

We hope you had a good break!

Our speaker series about public writing continues next week with a session led by Stephen Vider. It will be on Wednesday, March 4, at 8 pm at Aaron’s house.

Stephen shared the following pieces of writing:

– An article about ACT UP’s 1989 protest at Trump Tower, that appeared on Slate shortly after the 2016 presidential election. You can read it here:

– Three documents related to his 2017 exhibition, “AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism,” at the Museum of the City of New York.

Screenshot 2020-02-27 at 15.42.40

Please email us if you are not yet on our listserv and you would like to receive the readings.


Thank you so much to Stephen for these fantastic materials, and to Aaron for hosting this session.

We hope to see many of you there!



Benedetta & Kelsey

Reminder to submit for our writing workshop next week!

Dear all,

A reminder to submit for our writing workshop next week (Thursday 2/13)! The deadline is extended until Monday, February 10.


We are looking for 3-4 volunteers who are willing to share a short piece (max. 1200 words) to discuss.

The pieces can be anything: introductions, endings, short scenes, book reviews, blog posts, short articles… You can also submit a section of a longer text.

We are really looking forward to helping you with your projects at all stages!


Benedetta and Kelsey

Spring Schedule, Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West” this Wednesday (1/22) & February Writing Workshop

Hello HAWers!

We are happy to announce that we have finalized our spring schedule!

These are the dates:

Wed. 1/22: Discussion of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West 

Thu. 2/13: Writing Workshop

Wed. 3/4: Discussion with Stephen Vider

Fri. 4/17: Lunchtime Writing Workshop About Public Writing & Discussion About Disability-Inclusive Teaching with David Perry

Thu. 5/7: Eleventh Annual History Slam!

You can find a more detailed version of the schedule below, with a description of the various events.

We hope to see many of you this Wednesday for our discussion of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West at 8 pm at Aaron’s house. We are also looking for submissions for a writing workshop on February 13. All details are below.

With all best wishes for the semester ahead,

Benedetta & Kelsey



Wed. 1/22: Discussion of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West at 8 pm at Aaron’s house (see previous post for details).

Thu. 2/13: Writing Workshop (time and place TBD).

We are looking for 3-4 volunteers who are willing to share a short piece (max. 1200 words) to discuss.

The pieces can be anything: introductions, endings, short scenes, book reviews, blog posts, short articles… as you know, HAW is a safe space where we love and encourage creativity! We would be grateful if you could email us your submissions by Monday, February 3, at and We are very much looking forward to reading and discussing your work!

Wed. 3/4: Discussion with Stephen Vider (8 pm at Aaron’s house).

We are continuing our exciting speaker series about publishing in non-academic venues with a session led by Stephen Vider, Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Public History Initiative at Cornell University. In addition to his research, Stephen has contributed to a range of public history projects. At the Museum of the City of New York, he curated the exhibition AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism (May to October 2017), exploring how activists and artists have mobilized domestic space and redefined family in response to HIV/AIDS, from the 1980s to the present. A Place in the City, a short film he co-directed with Nate Lavey for the exhibition, has since been featured in film festivals and programs in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Istanbul. Vider was also co-curator of the exhibition Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York (October 2016 to February 2017) and co-author of an accompanying book, a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He has also published popular articles in the New York TimesAvidlyTime, and Slate, among other places. We are very grateful to Stephen for his availability!

Fri. 4/17: Lunchtime Writing Workshop About Public Writing & Discussion About Disability-Inclusive Teaching with David Perry (exact time and place TBD).

David Perry is this year’s HAW invited speaker and will conclude our speaker series with two events (both taking place that Friday). He has a Ph.D. in Medieval History and is now a columnist for Pacific Standard Magazine and a freelance journalist, covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. You can find more information about him on his website.

Here are the provisional abstracts for the two events:

  1. Writing Workshop About Public Writing

There’s no such thing as the Ivory Tower. Colleges and universities are not isolated enclaves, and they probably never were. Public engagement is an essential part of the core mission of higher education.

But how do we reach the public? This age of constant media babble and a vast explosion of online and print publications have transformed the traditional pathways of publication, prestige, and engagement. Academics – experts in so many things – need to be part of the conversation. In fact, the variety of media voices has only made expertise and authority more important.

In this workshop, David M. Perry will lead you through the process of getting your voice into the public sphere. He will cover pragmatic topics: the art of the pitch, finding the right venue, managing social media profiles, getting paid, making it count for tenure and promotion, and protecting yourself from trolls and harassment. He will also talk about strategies to simultaneously maintain academic authority and be accessible to the broader public.

Through it all, you’ll be working on your pitches, reading essays that embody important traits, and developing your own ideas.

Over the last five years, David – once a mild-mannered medievalist – has become a columnist for Pacific Standard Magazine, with hundreds of published pieces at venues all over the world, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Along the way, he’s learned a lot about how to take academic expertise and share it with a much broader audience.

Going public isn’t easy, but neither is getting into graduate school, getting a PhD, or finding an academic job, so you’ve already traveled some pretty difficult paths. This workshop will start you on your way towards the next challenge.

  1. Conversation about disability-inclusive teaching

As increasing numbers of undergraduate students seek reasonable accommodations for a variety of reasons, instructors need to understand not just their responsibilities for technical compliance, but think deeply about how to build inclusive pedagogy. The delivery of an accommodation letter should be the beginning of a conversation between professor and student, rather than the end of the matter. In this workshop, we’ll learn how to initiate and sustain this kind of conversation with our students, and why doing so has the potential to positively transform the classroom for everyone, including ourselves. David taught for over a decade at Dominican University, has publicly discussed his experiences as a student and professor with both dyslexia and multiple mental health diagnoses, and has written extensively on disability in higher education and society writ large.

Thu. 5/7: Eleventh Annual History Slam! (time and place TBD)

Once again, we will conclude our year with our traditional History Slam… now in its eleventh edition!

If you’ve never been to a History Slam before, it’s a chance to read our work out loud to each other and affirm our belief that scholarly writing can be as artful as any other kind of writing. Listening to the way writing sounds is a great way of exploring the question of how your work might have an impact….

It’s also nice just to sit back and appreciate the shape and rhythm of crafted prose.

Readings usually last about 5 minutes, and we ask that you make sure not to go beyond 10 minutes. We usually find a few volunteers to kick us off, and then the format becomes open mic!



Long Read Over Winter Break

Happiest of holidays, HAW! Comrades

As you consider what to read while you (hopefully) rest between terms, don’t forget to grab a copy of our long read over winter break: Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West— the novel that the New Yorker says “feels instantly canonical.


By the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, the book has garnered praise (NPR; NYTimes Book Review) and won a bevy of awards.

There’s currently a copy of Exit West on hold at Buffalo Street Books (under the name Kelsey Utne). Anyone is welcome to go by and purchase it– just shoot us an email if you do so we can have another copy put on hold or ordered if need be.

Join us on Wednesday January 22nd at 8pm at Aaron’s house to discuss the book, over snacks and drinks!

Happy Holidays!

Benedetta and Kelsey


Where else can you get Exit West?
TCPL has of 4 hard copies you can borrow
Or you can borrow from Cornell Library
Ebook users can borrow digital copies from Cornell and TCPL
Borrow the audiobook via Cornell or TCPL
Or use Libro to buy the audiobook (and still support Buffalo Street Books!)

Time to kick off our speaker series!

Hello HAW!


We are kicking off our speaker series about writing for public and non-academic venues with a session led by Sophie Pinkham and Nicholas Mulder. It will be on Thursday, November 14th, at 8 pm at Aaron’s house.

We will be discussing two pieces of writing that Sophie and Nick picked for us. Sophie’s choice is the introduction and first chapter of Kate Brown’s Manual for Survival (2019). Nick picked Mike Davis’ essay ‘Berlin’s Skeleton in Utah’s Closet’, which appeared in Grand Street in 1999. If you are not yet on our mailing list and you’d like to receive the readings, you are very welcome to get in touch with Benedetta ( or Kelsey (!

Thank you so much to Sophie and Nick for their contribution to HAW, and to Aaron for hosting this session.

We hope to see many of you there!

Fall 2019

It’s time to get excited for another year of Historians Are Writers!

On Tuesday, October 22, we will have our first writing workshop, in collaboration with the Graduate History Colloquium. You are all invited to join us for lunch and a stimulating conversation about writing in White Hall B02 from 12:15 to 1:30 pm. The workshop is addressed to all students who are applying for research grants and fellowships for the coming semester or year. We decided to focus on the “hook”: the opening paragraph of the proposal. If you are also working on a fellowship proposal and would like to workshop its opening paragraph, you are welcome to send us a submission too! But you can also just attend the session and share your writing insights with us.

To submit, please reply to with:

  1. Your proposal opening paragraph(s)—500 words max.
  2. A summary of your project (around 2000 characters, which is often the length of the abstracts you have to submit with your grant application).
  3. A brief description of the grant or fellowship you are applying for, just so we know what the guidelines or expectations are.

Submission deadline: Oct. 16 (right after fall break).

This year, we are also organizing a speaker series about writing for public and non-academic venues. The first session, featuring a discussion with Nicholas Mulder and Sophie Pinkham, will be on Thursday evening, November 14th, at 8 pm—location TBD. Nick and Sophie will share two pieces of writing that we will circulate before the session.

You can find more information about Nick here:

And this is the link to Sophie’s website:

As per HAW tradition, we are also going to do a long read over winter break. This year, we chose Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.


The book won many awards and The New York Times named it one of the 10 Best Books of 2017. We hope you will enjoy it! We will meet to discuss it in late January or early February. Stay tuned for more information about this session.


To join the HAW! email list and/or to receive more info about meeting times and places, email current group coordinators Benedetta Carnaghi ( and Kelsey Utne (


If you are new to HAW!, check out these two stories about the group: