The first lesson imparted by Frank Costigliola as we motor and meander around his 195-acre farm a few miles from campus in Storrs is his secret to balancing research, writing, teaching, and farming: a carefully calibrated system of napping.
“What I do, and I recommend it, is short naps. Five to 20 minutes. You wake up feeling like it’s a new day,” says Costigliola, a U.S. foreign relations history expert in his 50th year as a professor, his 24th at UConn. “First of all, I don’t drink coffee because coffee interferes with naps. Coffee is a zero-sum game. What I do for a quick boost sometimes, is eat one of these chocolate-covered cherries, which are superb, and one of those, because I don’t drink coffee, does the job.”
He has a lot more to say about the naps, but the point is he needs the energy. Costigliola wakes in the predawn hours to respond to students’ online discussion posts for the seminar he debuted last fall, “Personality and Power Since 1900,” and tend to his 12 beef cattle, or work on his latest book (a “cradle-to-grave” biography of Cold War–era diplomat George F. Kennan), or lead the loving restoration of his property to honor its history and carry on the farming tradition of the area.
The land, called Dunhamtown, as it was owned and farmed by the Dunham family from 1695 to 1873, contains multitudes, like Costigliola himself. Corrals and pastures, flowing water and outbuildings, wooded trails — each enclave a stunning backdrop for a meandering two-hour conversation about history and farming and, really, about life. Join us, will you?