Graduate Student; Graduate Assistant Profile Image
Graduate Student; Graduate Assistant History donna.devlin@huskers.unl.edu 402-472-2414 922 Oldfather Hall
JOINED THE DEPARTMENT

2017

BIO

Donna Devlin is a fourth-year PhD student with a focus on nineteenth-century America. Her interests lie in examining the legal, political, and social challenges associated with the expansion of America’s borders. In particular, her dissertation research examines how women worked within the law to address sexual violence on the late nineteenth-century Plains. Through the use of legal records, this study expands our understanding of the developing legal systems of the West while giving a voice to women forced to reckon with a violence often omitted in the traditional narrative of Westward expansionism. In relation to this research, Devlin recently published an article in the Willa Cather Review entitled “A Pioneering Tale of a Different Sort: Annie Sadilek Pavelka and Sexual Assault.” This article details the discovery of archival and legal documents in which Annie, the prototype for Cather’s 1918 novel My Ántonia, gives voice to sexual assault in Red Cloud, Nebraska, in 1887.

Devlin’s other research interests include: the settlement policies and practices of frontier territories, especially those affected by the Kansas-Nebraska Act; the legal discrepancies in land-claims processes in Territorial Kansas; and, the regional and territorial unrest in the nineteenth century as a result of the changing and dynamic political landscape. Prior to studying at the University of Nebraska, Devlin spent eleven years in the Kansas public school system teaching 7-12 social studies and serving as an adjunct instructor at the community college level.

FELLOWSHIPS AND HONORS
  • AHA Albert J. Beveridge Research Grant, 2020
  • Frank A. Belousek Fellowship, 2020-2021
  • Chi Omega Grad Fellowship, 2020-2021
  • Louis Max Meyer Fellowship, 2020-2021
  • Dov Ospovat Memorial Award for graduate essay “‘Saintly’ Pioneers and the ‘Disruption of an Entire Neighborhood’: Sexual Coercion and Legal Manipulation on the Kansas Plains,” 2020
  • Louis Max Meyer Fellowship, 2019-2020
  • Dov Ospovat Memorial Award for graduate essay “A ‘Hired Girl’ Testifies Against the ‘Son of a Prominent Family’: Bastardy and Rape on the Nineteenth-Century Nebraska Plains,” 2019
  • Center for Great Plains Studies Graduate Fellow, awarded 2018
  • Chancellor’s Fellowship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2017-2019
  • James Madison Memorial Fellow, awarded 2010
PUBLICATIONS
INVITED TALKS AND CONFERENCE PAPERS
  • “Sexual Violence and Coercion: A Legal History,” Presenter, Diverse Women’s Summit and Gender and Sexuality in Kansas Conference, Wichita State University, 2020
  • “A ‘Hired Girl’ Testifies Against the ‘Son of a Prominent Family’: Bastardy and Rape on the Nineteenth-Century Nebraska Plains,” Presenter, Nineteenth Century Studies Association Conference, Kansas City, and James A. Rawley Graduate Conference in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2019
  • “James Henry Lane: Popular Sovereignty Advocate for Territorial Kansas,” Visiting Lecturer, Bleeding Kansas Lecture Series, Constitution Hall, Lecompton, KS, 2013
MASTER'S THESIS

James Henry Lane: Popular Sovereignty Advocate for Territorial Kansas
Advisor: Dan Monroe, Millikin University

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

M.A. (MAHG), Ashland University, Ohio, 2012

B.S., Fort Hays State University, Kansas, 2006

B.A., Fort Hays State University, Kansas, 2006

A.S., Fort Hays State University, Kansas, 1992

EXPERTISE/AREAS OF STUDY

Nineteenth Century, U.S.;
American Legal History;
Gendered Sexual Violence;
Westward Expansionism;
Kansas Territorial Period;
American Constitutionalism