Nicholas Bonneau has just been awarded the Notre Dame History Department's John Highbarger Memorial Dissertation Prize for the best Ph.D. dissertation in History. Of Bonneau’s dissertation, “Unspeakable Loss: New England’s Invisible Throat Distemper Epidemics, 1735-1775,” the jurors write:
The committee praises Bonneau's work for its success at unearthing evidence about the destructive yet little remembered effects of the New England throat distempers which killed so many children in the 18th century. Bonneau problematizes our assumption about text production in colonial New England and its role in historical memory by examining the actions of families touched by the epidemics. His database traces the quantitative effects of the epidemics while addressing the history of medicine, emotion, the family, religion, including the Great Awakening, and politics.The research demonstrates the scale and impact of this largely unstudied pandemic and presents moving analysis of the devastation of entire families. This is a compelling and thoughtful dissertation that engages many literatures simultaneously, and has contemporary relevance even now.
Nick was part of the earliest cohort of GLOBES students, and was an HPS graduate minor student. His dissertation was advised by HPS and History faculty member Chris Hamlin.