History Department
History Department

History Students Awarded Prestigious Rapoport-King Thesis Scholarships

Mon, November 4, 2019
History Students Awarded Prestigious Rapoport-King Thesis Scholarships
L to R, clockwise: Alexander David Wallis, Anna May Roberts, Johann A. Rossbach, Monica Gabrielle Oatman, and Carol-Armelle Ze-Noah

The History Department celebrates five awardees of the Rapport-King Thesis Scholarships this year. Four of the recipients––Monica Gabrielle Oatman, Anna May Roberts, Johann A. Rossbach, and Alexander David Wallis––are History majors and a fifth––Carol-Armelle Ze-Noah––is a major in Women’s & Gender Studies being mentored by a History faculty member.

The scholarship is awarded by the College of Liberal Arts in honor of Audre and Bernard Rapoport and Robert D. King. It generously provides $3,000 in research support to undergraduate students who are writing an honors thesis. Faculty mentors also receive a $1,000 stipend in recognition of their support for the student’s research.

Ms. Oatman describes her thesis project as "A closer look at Mary Cassatt's lost 1894 mural, with the context of contemporary feminism.” Mentored by Dr. Neil Kamil, she plans to focus her research on exploring the popular failure of the mural, “especially in how it relates to Cassatt's own identity and artistic success.”

“My thesis looks at the stereotypes surrounding a very controversial figure in 18th-century England — the dancing-master,” explains Ms. Roberts, who is working with Dr. Julie Hardwick. “By analyzing these stereotypes and their origins I hope to better understand the complicated relationship between class, gender, and social mobility in a dynamic but singularly snobbish society.”

Entitled "Jean Lafitte and Juan Lafita: Duplicity and Conflict in the Trans-Imperial Gulf, 1786-1821,” Mr. Rossbach’s project centers around Jean Lafitte, the French pirate/privateer who famously played a role in defending New Orleans against the British during the War of 1812. “Rather than solely focus on Lafitte biographically,” he explains, “I plan to organize his story – combining well-known accounts of his later life with earlier, “rediscovered” documents about his imprisonment in New Spain as "Juan Lafita" – in an effort to accurately depict the tumultuous nature of trans-imperial politics in the Gulf of Mexico. Among other things, my work will play on the commonplace deceit, duplicity, and fraud present in the early nineteenth century and will connect these themes to Lafitte's stunning relationships with some of the most important people and empires in his part of the globe.” Mr. Rossbach’s faculty mentor is Dr. Lina del Castillo.

Mr. Wallis, working with Dr. Bruce Hunt, is analyzing the work of American eugenicists during the early twentieth century. In particular, he aims “to understand how they conceptualized East Asian within eugenics and the racial hierarchy. I am also looking into the extent to which eugenicists were involved in the 1924 immigration bill to understand how their conceptualization of East Asians effected the legislation.” Mr. Wallis points out, “This is one of the most underrepresented aspects of the academic research surrounding eugenics in American and I believe it is just as important to understanding the American story.”

Ms. Ze-Noah’s thesis, entitled “Blexit: Candace Owens and the Politics of Liberation in the Republican Politics” is a critical exploration of identity politics observed through the lens of Candace Owens’ Blexit, a movement centered on the liberation of Black peoples from the Democratic Party. Ms. Ze-Noah explains that, “In its study of Black party identification vis-à-vis Blexit,” her thesis “seeks to provide a comprehensive visibility of Black women in neo-conservative politics and endeavors to understand the diverse ways through which Black women leverage political power.” She emphasizes, “The funding of this project through the Rapoport-King Scholarship is critical to the completion of this research and in the coming months, I will be meeting with Blexit members and attending Blexit symposia across the country to get a better grasp of the movement, its motivations and goals for Black people in politics, especially in the advent of the 2020 election cycle.” Dr. Ashley Farmer is Ms. Ze-Noah’s faculty mentor.

Thirteen scholarships were awarded in total, making this another strong showing for our students. Please join us in congratulating them!

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