A Look a' the Irish
Prof. David Miller
Jay Roszman (HS'10,'11)
The sheer beauty of the Irish countryside and the friendliness of its people left a lasting impression on Jay Roszman (HS'10,'11).
As a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University, he spent a year living and studying in Belfast.
It didn't take long for him to realize just how important history is to the Irish people.
Roszman was captivated by how their understanding of the past has shaped how they see the world in which they live — and themselves.
"Thirty-plus years of terrorism crystallized this in Northern Ireland, and 'history' became both a way to build community solidarity and one's personal identity," he said.
"I was struck by the intersection of the academic pursuit of historical understanding and the 'pop' history I encountered that was used as a tool for Catholics and Protestants to understand their present realities."
And while he says grad school can be a lot like walking into a dense fog, CMU professor David Miller illuminated his path.
"His wisdom has shaped my research — challenging me to ask more thoughtful questions, engage with new historical source material and produce the best scholarship I can," said Roszman.
"The personal relationship and rapport was also amazing. We met weekly one-on-one discussing books we've read, offering critiques, and finding ways that the work of other scholars could offer insights into my own research and writing."
Miller's second book, Queen's Rebels: Ulster Loyalism in Historical Perspective, is highly regarded by historians and social scientists.
It has also resonated with participants in the Northern Ireland peace process.
For example, Miller has studied the religious practice of Irish Catholics in pre- and post-famine Ireland — such as their attendance at Mass. And his quantitative research has helped put into perspective the sharp changes in religious practice over generations.
Miller is currently writing a book with the working title of Irish Catholics, Ulster Presbyterians and Church Protestants.
"Although much has been written about each of the three major Irish religious communities, little attempt has been made find out what they had in common, and understand how and why they reacted as they did toward each other," he explained.
For Miller, talking with a grad student about his or her goals, and how to get there, is rewarding.
"I hope it is to them," he said.
It seemed to be in Roszman's case. Call it the luck o' the Irish, if you will, but Roszman knows he made a wise decision in choosing to attend CMU.
"I am truly privileged to have had a professor, friend and mentor who is such an amazing scholar of Irish history," said Roszman.
Miller was recently honored at Queen's University Belfast with a "David Miller Day," honoring his rich contribution to Irish history.