2012-13 Wyatt Fellow
Dr. John Ellis
I am very excited to be organizing this year's exploration as the 2012-13 Wyatt Fellow. As it has played such a crucial role in my own professional and personal development, I have worked to extend international education and study abroad here at the University of Michigan-Flint through my service on the International and Global Studies program, the International Travel Advisory Committee and the university's annual International Summits. Within the History Department, I lead one study abroad trip to the Caribbean and have been lucky enough to assist the former Wyatt fellows and to participate in some of their past expeditions. I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and depth of knowledge displayed by my colleagues in these projects and am thrilled with the opportunity to now share my own interest and expertise in Welsh history and culture with our students, department and university community.
I was first introduced to Wales through my Welsh grandmother, who hailed from Aberystwyth and was amongst the last to immigrate to the United States through Ellis Island. Later, as an undergraduate participating in a study abroad program in London, I had the opportunity to travel to Wales and meet my many Welsh relations. I would return on a more extended basis as a Fulbright Scholar, earning an MA in Welsh History at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (now Aberystwyth University) before completing my doctorate in British and Irish history at Boston College. I have been a frequent visitor to Wales ever since and often conduct research at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
As a historian, I have been active in promoting scholarship on Welsh studies in the United States and abroad. I have served as an officer of the North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History (NAASWCH), am a frequent organizer of the International Conference on Welsh Studies, and am a member of the editorial board of the Welsh History Review, the key academic journal in the field. As in my book Investiture: Royal Ceremony and National Identity in Wales, 1911-1969, my own scholarship has largely focused on the construction of Welsh national identity and its changing relationship to the British state and empire. My current project focuses on the life, career and adventures of Owen Rhoscomyl, a turn of the century author, mercenary and Welsh nationalist. I have also been active in the Welsh American community, having served as the Director of the Welsh Heritage Program at Green Mountain College and as the Executive Director of the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association (WNGGA), through which I helped organize the North American Festival of Wales between 2003 and 2008. In 2008, my work promoting Welsh culture and scholarship was recognized by the National Welsh American Foundation through the award of the Welsh Heritage Medallion.
In addition to providing an opportunity to learn about Welsh history and to experience a little Welsh culture, I hope this exploration will prompt students to think about the complicated nature of nationality, the value of minority cultures, and the challenges faced by small nations in an increasingly globalized society.