© 2020 by Michael Donnay

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I write about history and its influence on contemporary society, from science funding to higher education to theatre.

As an undergraduate, my research focused on the history of institutions and the ways people organize themselves to produce culture. My interest in institutions took me from naval logistics during the American revolution to Jesuit missions in colonial Mexico to pioneering female pilots in the 1930s. I have also conducted or supported research with the Naval History & Heritage Command, the Department of Chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, and co-hosted a weekly podcast about overlooked woman in history.

​I write for Six by Eight Press on the intersection of history and performance. See below for a full list of projects.

Missing History Podcast
 

From 2018 to 2019, I co-hosted the Missing History Podcast, where each week my co-host Katie and I brought a woman overlooked by history to share.

Inspired by that all too common feeling, "How did I not know about her?!?", we aim to elevate the stories of a wide range of woman, from Egyptian civil rights activists to medieval nuns to the first female (almost) astronauts. We share their stories, discuss their impact and why they've been ignored or sidelined, and often get a little mad at the patriarchy. Listen to Missing History on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, or wherever great podcasts can be found.

History is complicated, so we take it one woman at a time.

Missing History is co-hosted by Katie & Michael
Produced & Edited by Jen
Co-Executive Produced by Frankie

Jeannette Piccard talking to reporters after landing in Cadiz, Ohio. (Getty Images)

"Chemists Boldly Go" with Michelle Francl
 

"Following the Chicago flight, Jeannette and Jean Felix found themselves in possession of a balloon, a gondola and a desire to aim for the stratosphere themselves. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much more than that, and back then (as now) epic science was not an inexpensive endeavour. The 1933 flight had cost over US$50,000, and even working on a shoestring budget, the Piccards needed to raise almost US$10,000 (US$180,000 in 2016 dollars) to cover the costs of another flight. Unattached to an academic institution, commercial laboratory or military research facility — and at the height of the Great Depression — they had no obvious avenues through which to pursue funding. Jean Felix’s difficult personality and the catastrophic ends to the most recent attempts also did not help."

Read more at Nature Chemistry

(Not) Empty of Mankind

"With such abundant evidence, it is clear that the Americas were home to many vibrant and established societies before the arrival of Europeans in the late 15th-century. And yet, from Europeans’ first arrival on the continent through the mid-20th century, the accepted wisdom among historians and the wider public alike was that the “New World” was largely unpopulated prior to the great colonial empires of Spain, Portugal, France, and Britain. European writers regularly spoke of the Americas as empty, virgin territory waiting to be filled up. This assumption of emptiness retained its power in the United States well into the modern period."

Read more at Six by Eight Press.

Under One Management

"The closing decades saw a seismic shift in the landscape of higher education in the United States, with the rise of the research university and the subsequent eclipse of the denominational college as the dominant model of higher education. The forces this shift exerted on the remaining denominational colleges were immense, perhaps no more so than on the Catholic colleges, who faced the dual challenge of a religious and curricular heritage not at all aligned with the university movement. Among the Catholic colleges, the response of those run by the Jesuits stood out for a number of reasons. "

​Read more at Digital Georgetown.

Further Reading

"Circus and the Taming of Empire," Six by Eight Press (November 2019)
"An Actor's Progress: A Journey to Fame and Fortune?" Six by Eight Press (February 2019)
"An Inquiry into the Multiplicitious Causes of the American Prohibition Movement,"Six by Eight Press (August 2018)
"Interview with Tacky Pioneer," Six by Eight Press (June 2018)
"(Not) Empty of Mankind," Six by Eight Press (January 2018)
"The Sacred Tradition," Six by Eight Press (December 2017)
"Interview with Sasha Kostyrko and Miles Duffey," Six by Eight Press (July 2017)
Chemists Boldly Go,” with Michelle Francl, Nature Chemistry (January 2017)
"Wasted: Material Use in Theatre," Six by Eight Press (July 2016)
 “The 'French-Bread Riot' of 8 September 1778: The French Fleet and Boston's Food Supply,” McMullen Naval History Symposium (Sept 2015)
Expanding Access to Music Education in Pennsylvania,” 10 Ideas for Education (2014)
“The “2-2-2” Program: Improving Dual Enrollment in Virginia,” with Abhinav Tyagarajan, Naomi Fierro, Shin-Yi Lee, and Shiva Jayaraman, 10 Ideas for Education (2013)
“A Christian Orfeo: Christian and Classical Themes in Striggio and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, la favola in musica,” Utraque Unum 6:2 (2013)