History Department
History Department

History Students Celebrate Research Week: Honors Thesis Symposium

Mon, May 15, 2017
History Students Celebrate Research Week: Honors Thesis Symposium
Albert Garcia, Senior and History Honors Student

The diverse research of UT History majors was on display last week as the university celebrated Research Week, sponsored by the School of Undergraduate Studies. History students showcased their impressive historical research projects through posters and talks at a variety of Research Week events. (See also: 2017 Longhorn Research Bazaar)

On Thursday April 20, the Honors Thesis Symposium afforded History Honors students an opportunity to share and celebrate their thesis projects. With professionalism and aplomb, students presented their work to a full audience of faculty, staff, family, and fellow students. They explained their research, tackled questions, and discussed the broader implications of their work.

With a total of sixteen talks, the symposium was an all day affair and student presentations encompassed a wide array of historical eras, themes, and geographic areas. Four presentations dealt with Texas history: Zachary Nash examined how secessionists exploited Anglo settler anxieties about Native Americans and frontier violence to gain support for their cause. Elizabeth Jones delved deeper into her comparative history of slave law in Texas and Louisiana. Bryson Kisner tackled the fraught history of conflict between Tejanos and Anglos in Nacogdoches during the nineteenth century, as well as efforts to coexist. Finally, Michael Stanley presented on the too-often neglected topic of eugenics in Texas during the early twentieth century. Unlike the majority of US states, Texas never passed a eugenic sterilization law. Stanley demonstrated, however, that eugenics was ever-present, playing a role in marriage laws and immigration debates. Such projects demonstrate the rich archival collections on Texas history available for undergraduate research.

Several projects centered on the theme of war and society. The American Revolution was the focus for both Kathleen Telling, whose research in Philadelphia helped her uncover how Quaker women made their voices heard as political actors during the revolutionary period, and for Brandyn Lee, who examined Paul Revere’s biography and motivations for joining the radical movement for independence from Britain. Albert Garcia explored the motivations and middle-class nature of the Famous World War I “Pal’s” Battalions, who were recruited with the promise of being able to fight alongside friends and co-workers. Analyzing the historical inspiration for and evolving depictions of the comic book character Agent Peggy Carter, Mickey Lanning traced shifting social attitudes toward women in combat since World War II.

2017-Honors-Symp-posterCultural history, colonial history, and the history of religion were also well represented among the honors presentations. Katherine Dean’s thesis elucidates the development of historical narratives and the collective memory of the trauma of 9/11, drawing on close readings of pop culture sources. Emma Steiner examined American perspectives on Soviet housing initiatives, while Miranda Whited delved into the social themes and context of the musicals of Oscar Hammerstein II. Katherine Rickert’s work made compelling connections between English legal history and cultural perceptions of suicide and mental health, while Alexandra Dolan linked widespread dissatisfaction with London’s postwar architecture with an ongoing post-imperial identity crisis. Amanda Faulkner’s research in Amsterdam uncovered the surprising central role of women and communal culture in the rise of the Dutch Empire. James Smith explored the influence of Christianity on the end of Indian indenture in the British colony of Fiji during the early twentieth century. Making use of sources collected from archives in archives in Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina, Kevin Powell’s project examined a nineteenth-century conflict between Roman Catholic priests and proselytizing British and American Protestant missionaries––revealing contention not simply over theology, but also over culture and race.

View a full list of Honors Thesis Symposium presentations here.

The high quality of the projects presented during Research Week was a clear sign of the hard work the students put in over many months of research and writing. The History Department celebrates their achievements.

See also History's Undergraduate Research Page.

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