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Alexandra Garnhart-Bushakra

Biography

Alexandra is a seventh-year doctoral candidate in medieval European history.  Her research focuses on twelfth-century France and the Mediterranean, the early crusades, masculinity, bereavement, and memorialization in poetry.  She earned her bachelors degree from Whitman College (History and Classical Studies, magna cum laude) and master's degree from the University of Tennessee.  

Her dissertation explores how Northern French authors relied on ancient exemplars—including Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses—to redefine Frankish masculinity after the campaign of 1099.  Specifically, twelfth-century Christian monks learned to characterize war in highly gendered ways by emulating Roman poetry.  These churchmen added graphic descriptions of sexual trauma, death, grief, and vengeance to their histories of the First Crusade, in order to draw parallels between contemporary warfare and the heroism (or tragedy) of Classical epics.

Alexandra has a combined six years of experience as a teaching assistant and as a writing tutor for the UT Department of History and the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program.  Most recently, she has taught an introductory course in world history and pre-modern cultures.  In addition, Alexandra worked as a summer research assistant for Dr. Thomas Burman (2016); and she assisted Dr. Jay Rubenstein with the “Holy War in the Middle Ages” faculty-research seminar (2016-2017).  Her research has been supported through Marco and UT History travel fellowships (2018); and by the Jimmy and Dee Haslam Dissertation Fellowship (2019-2020). Since 2018, Alexandra earned her home department’s Susan Becker Award and the UT Graduate Student Senate’s recognition for excellence in teaching.  She also received the 2020 Award for Excellence in Gender Studies from the UT Department of History.

Beyond her research, Alexandra is interested in public outreach and advocacy for the humanities.  This year she will join the UT Chancellor’s Commission for Women. She also volunteers as an associate class representative for the Whitman College’s Alumni Class of 2011.  Previously, Alexandra represented the graduate community on the Marco Institute’s Steering Committee (2015-2016) and the UT Dean of Libraries’ Student Advisory Committee (2019-2020).