Honoring the Ordinary

Though they lived more than two centuries ago, the people Allyson Poska calls “my peasants” experienced day-to-day drama that rivals any TV reality show. The UMW professor of history spins juicy tales of intemperance, extramarital liaisons, and murders, naming names and making connections. The Shirley Van Epps Waple Professor has made their business her business: enriching the historical record. “I study ordinary people,” Poska said of her career and of her latest research on the lives of Spanish peasant women who were brought to colonize the Argentine region of Patagonia in the 1780s. “In my profession, that’s really different.” Poska has spent hundreds of hours in archives in South America and Spain, poring over manuscripts in early modern Spanish. Deciphering letters, court papers, and other documents, the UMW Waple professor mines the intimate details of lives uprooted by the Spanish government to populate an area coveted by England. The resulting book, the working title of … [Read more...]

Holding Patrick Henry’s Seat

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and Del. Hyland F. “Buddy” Fowler Jr. ’95 thought he might go fishing. Then U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor called and invited him to lunch. He’d have to indulge his passion for the outdoors another day. “If the House majority leader wants me to be somewhere, I’m marching,” said Fowler, who did plenty of that on the campaign trail last year. For months, he attended every fish fry and chicken pickin’ in Virginia’s 55th House District. Some days, he knocked on so many doors his knuckles ached. Those efforts paid off. When election results rolled in on Nov. 5, 2013, the Republican had garnered 57 percent of the votes, besting his Democratic and Libertarian opponents for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates – where Cantor got his start. “Fifteen thousand and some folks are pulling the lever for me. … It’s very humbling,” Fowler said. “I’m sitting in Patrick Henry’s seat in the legislature. To be representing that district, it’s a privilege and a … [Read more...]