Dr. DeSilva is the Assistant Chairperson for the History Department.
Teaching and Research Specialties:
- World History
- Europe 1300-1700 CE
- Italy and the Papal Court
- The political, cultural, and social history of the Renaissance and Reformation
Description of Current Research:
After graduating from the University of Toronto (PhD 2007, Canada), she taught at Eastern Connecticut State University, before joining the faculty of Ball State University in 2010.
Dr. DeSilva's research focuses on issues of identity-building, authority, and behavioral reform in early modern Europe. Rituals and ceremonies, both liturgical and civic, often contribute to early modern identity and communication strategies. She has published many journal articles and chapters on these topics, as well as editing several collections of essays on the appearance of these issues in the early modern world. For some of these publications, see "Personal Website" below. Currently she is pursuing two research projects. The first project examines the early modern College of Cardinals as a demographic and social population that experienced distinct financial and cultural pressures. These resulted in several changes that left the College prey to deep-rooted criticism, but also a more heterodox institution. The second project investigates the strategies that patrician families in the Italian city of Bologna pursued from 1400 to 1700 CE in order to achieve social and political advancement, with particular interest in the de' Grassi family. This project uses digital tools to explore the experience and benefits of office-holding by both clergy and laymen in the pursuit of social mobility.
Teaching has led to other public research projects, including the Town On Fire online video exhibits (from 2020), which profile women who lived in Muncie, Indiana from 1870-1920 CE. Student-made biographical and methodology videos explore industrialization, urbanization, immigration, racial tensions, vice and violence, work, and suffrage through individual women's lives. These exhibits are a collaboration between Ball State students and the Notable Women of Muncie and Delaware County Project.
Also, to help students think about the 'lives' of artifacts and how museums impact local and distant communities, Dr. DeSilva has written a Reacting To The Past Game entitled Repatriating the Benin Bronzes. This game is easily adapted and integrated into a variety of subject classrooms from middle school through university, and available to interested instructors. Students play as museums, philanthropists, and authorities and decide how to balance the moral responsibility of looted artifacts with social, financial, and legal realities.