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Nancy M. Wingfield: Sifting through history for illuminating details

April 15, 2014
Nancy M. Wingfield

Nancy M. Wingfield

Throughout her career studying issues of nationalism as well as gender and sexuality in Habsburg Central Europe, Nancy M. Wingfield has earned a reputation as a researcher who will go to extraordinary lengths to find aspects of history that others have overlook.

Her work often takes her to obscure archives in the far corners of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Ukraine. There she spends countless hours poring over documents in Czech, French, German, Polish and several other languages.

Her willingness to mine these often-neglected veins for illuminating details make her work stand out in the field.

“Her almost uncanny ability to locate fascinating materials, often culled from small local archives …enable her to develop original analyses of Central European society in the 19th and 20th centuries,” said Pieter M. Judson, professor of 19th and 20th century history at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

Wingfield is considered an innovator in the field of Habsburg Central Europe studies for advancing the use of the methods and achievements of cultural and social history. She has advanced those notions not only through her own textbooks (used in classrooms throughout the world) but also in her role as former editor of the journal, Nationalities Papers.

While best known for her research and writing, Wingfield also has earned a reputation as an outstanding collaborator who is willing to foster the work of other academics – particularly those new to the field – across the globe.

“There is no one else in the field who has contributed more time, care and attention to the work of colleagues, especially younger colleagues,” said Timothy Synder, the Housum Professor of History at Yale. “Nancy is one of the two people most responsible for the maturation of the current and impressive generation of younger scholars of east European history.”