Past Honors Papers

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Honors Abstracts 2013

Carolyn Cargile, “‘The World, I Assure You is Right Queasy’: The Paston Family during the War of the Roses.” This honors history project explored the experience of the Paston family during the Wars of the Roses, a series of three English civil wars that lasted from 1459-1485. Through close examination of the Paston Letters, the paper argued that the Pastons – a lower landed gentry family – were able to survive the Wars of the Roses with their family and lands intact due to a combination of their lower social status as members of the lower landed gentry, their pragmatic ideas of loyalty – in which they based their sense of loyalty on who was strongest and most powerful, rather than on bloodline or descent – and the very moderate action they took during the wars. Through the combination of these factors, they were able to avoid excess attention, switch their loyalties when convenient or necessary, and deliberately manipulate the chaos of the wars to maintain their own security, both of person and of property. Although the paper took a case-study approach, it also argued that though the Pastons’ actions were some of the best-documented of their class, they were not exceptional, and that the Pastons’ attitudes and actions could be considered very representative of those of their social station as a whole. As a whole, historians of the Wars of the Roses tend to ignore the roles played by the lower landed gentry during these conflicts. This paper took a different approach in examining lower gentry roles in these wars and acknowledging their political presence, thus contributing to an as-yet underdeveloped historical conversation. Advisor:  Professor Heather Welland.  After taking a gap year, Carolyn will enter graduate school to pursue a doctorate in Medieval History.

Caroline Culp, “‘Face Painting’ and the Formation of Feminine Identity: Women Artists of Charleston, South Carolina, 1690-1825.” The history of Charleston, South Carolina is one riddled with convoluted tales and contradictory narratives. “‘Face Painting’ and the Formation of Feminine Identity: Women Artists of Charleston, South Carolina, 1690-1825” seeks to reconfigure and re-contextualize the stories of female artists in this Southern city from the Colonial age through the American Revolution and beyond. By using visual artifacts as clues—historical pieces never before considered in a scholarly analysis—a new history emerges. Grappling with issues of gender, race, and class, this project uses maps, prints, drawings, and artworks to re-explore the history of one of America’s oldest and most beloved cities. Advisor:  Professor Michele Gillespie.  This summer, Caroline will intern in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before pursuing graduate school in Art History.

Joshua Garrett, “Patronage, Cultural Appropriation, and Collective Identity: State Sponsored Projects of Urban Renewal in Sixteenth Century Venice and Lisbon.” Much scholarly attention has been paid to the port cities of Lisbon and Venice. However, few studies have worked to jointly address the two, analyze their parallel maritime dynamics and contextualize their similar historical trajectory, a gap in the historiography this study hopes to fill. Venice and Lisbon executed a series of state-sponsored urban renewal projects in the sixteenth century and this study addresses themes of patronage, cultural appropriation and identity formation apparent in both. In Venice, Jacopo Sansovino’s Biblioteca, Mint, and reorganization of St. Mark’s Square shed light on how Venetian politics pressured for a rebirth of Venice vis-à-vis la Serenissima’s principal architectural monuments, and how their design reflected the social and historical events of the period, as well as, cultivated the Myth of Venice – claiming that Venice was successor to the grand Roman Empire. In Lisbon, the Manuel Style took hold, cementing its relation to the voyages of discovery and speaks to the fact that the monarchs who financed and encouraged the expeditions were eager to see them tangibly represented in the monuments which came to define the center of the new maritime empire. A comparison of differences in political structure, cultural heritage, and changing roles in realm of the Indo-European spice trade as they relate to these projects of urban renewal enables this study to contextualize these urban renewal projects in the larger spheres of the sixteenth-century European and Atlantic Worlds. Advisor: Professor Monique O’Connell.  Joshua is currently receiving his TESOL/ESL/EFL certification at NC State University and working part-time in the ABMT clinic at Duke.  He will move to Portugal later this year to pursue graduate studies as well as teach English.

Sallie James, “‘Law Not War’: women’s Peace Activism in Early Twentieth Century Britain.”  This honors thesis examines the engagement of women activists in the peace movement in Great Britain between the First and Second World Wars. The paper considers the context of women’s public activism prior to the passage of women’s suffrage in 1918, and it looks at the ways women’s activism centered on “women’s issues” before 1918. The political environment for women activists in post-war Great Britain was shaped by both a pervasive anti-war sentiment and a rise of “active citizenship,” or greater public participation in mass political organizations and lobbying efforts. The paper explores the work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the League of Nations Union within this post-war environment, alongside the writings of two key activists, Vera Brittain and Helena Swanwick. Ultimately, my thesis argues that women peace activists’ engagement in the interwar peace movement pushed the boundaries of women’s public activism and political engagement in Britain.  Advisor: Professor Heather Welland.  Next year, Sallie hopes to have an internship with an international nonprofit focused specifically on women’s rights and global poverty.

Meenakshi Krishnan, “‘The Decantation of Truths’: Recasting the Mariel Generation, 1980-1985.”  This thesis focused on the Mariel exiles, a group of 125,000 Cuban emigrants who fled Cuba for Miami in the spring of 1980. The Mariels were distinct from previous generations of Cuban exiles in terms of both their demographic singularity and their ideological orientation. Yet they were also hampered by social stigmatization, as Fidel Castro spread rumors that they were all criminals and mentally ill individuals. My thesis examines the process of the public construction of the Mariels’ identity, with a particular focus on a group of intellectuals and artists who started a literary and arts magazine, Revista Mariel, to articulate a group identity and advance a political agenda.  Advisor:  Professor Michele Gillespie.  Next year, Meenu will attend the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to pursue an MPhil in International Relations and Politics.

Sanders McNair, “A Crustacean Stuck in the Past: Time and Place in the Maine Lobster Fishery.” This paper will examine the unique features of the American lobster fishery and the social construction of the lobster as a popular seafood item since the nineteenth century. The American lobster (Homarus americanus) was once fed to prisoners and the poor or used as bait on the coast of Maine, but is now an expensive food served across the country. A historical analysis of the Maine lobster fishery shows that it remains an outlier when compared to other fisheries around the world. Despite its popularity, the American lobster populations have not collapsed like other species due to several factors, including distinct conservation policies and limited technological advances. Most lobsters are wild-caught off the North Atlantic coast because the industry has lacked a profitable model for farming lobster due to the crustacean’s biological features. These distinct aspects of the fishery have played a role in the social construction of the lobster that ties it to the Maine coast during the summer. An examination of its history shows that the Maine lobster remains deeply tied to the past in several aspects, which has influenced the conservation and consumption of the crustacean.  Advisor: Professor Simone M. Caron. Next year, Sanders will work on farms first in Israel and then throughout Europe before returning to the States to pursue employment in the renewable energy sector or in the foo/environmental/energy policy sector.

Margaret Rodgers, “The Literature that Built the Tyrant: Insight on the Texts that Influenced Adolf Hitler.” Despite the vast amount of research that has been conducted about World War II’s most notorious villain, Adolf Hitler, little attention has been paid to one of the most telling discoveries made at the conclusion of World War II: Hitler’s private library. This paper takes an in-depth look at some of the literature that Hitler owned and read from the time of his youth until his election to Reichkanzler in 1933, and considers the influence of these works upon the mind and development of Adolf Hitler. Ranging from adventure novels and opera libretti, to political and racial dissertations, Hitler’s library was a diverse collection, and is an intriguing example of how literature can provide the foundations for dogmatic personal beliefs.  Advisor:  Professor Michael Hughes.  Next year, Margaret will relocate to Wels, Austria where she will teach English through the English Teaching Assistantship awarded her by the Austrian Fulbright Commission.

Andrew Rodriguez, The Arab-Israeli Conflict and Britain’s Self-Destructive Imperial Strategy in Palestine, 1916-1948.  This paper argues that Britain, by attempting to strengthen her imperial power, actually weakened it. Palestine, although only one colony in Britain’s empire, serves as a microcosm to the greater decline of Britain’s empire as a whole. Britain sabotaged her position in Palestine by Signing the Balfour declaration and thus beginning the Arab-Israeli conflict, by making promises to both the Arabs and the Jews throughout the time period, and depending on financial aid from the US, who ended up being an enemy to Britain’s imperial recovery rather than an ally.  Losing Palestine was the beginning of the end of Britain’s empire because the loss of Palestine sabotaged Britain’s position in the Middle East, which was largely important to Britain’s post-war recovery. Without the Middle East, Britain would lack to resources to maintain her other colonies, and the empire was doomed to fail. This serves as a better way to understand decolonization in the 20th century and its causes. This particular instance suggests that decolonization was a self-destructive process in which the empires attempted to remain powerful but ultimately lost it. Advisor:  Professor Penny Sinanoglou.  Next year, Andrew will enter the Masters in Management Program.

Paul Stroebel, ”The Civilian Experience During the Battle of Gettysburg.”  The civilian experience during war is one that often does not receive its fair share of attention. This paper gave a detailed account of the civilian experience during the battle of Gettysburg and examined how the battle had a multifaceted effect on the civilians. The paper focused on how the battle challenged the citizens physically, psychologically, and affected their views of the war.  Throughout the battle the citizens were subjected to a full spectrum of emotions that ranged from paralyzing fear to irresistible joy.  The battle strengthened the resolve of the citizens to support the Union to win the war, but it also humanized the war for citizens.  The traumatizing scenes of death and anguish allowed them to better understand the tragedies of war and made them realize that the Southerners were not that different from citizens such as themselves.  The citizens would never forget the Battle of Gettysburg and the impact it had on their lives both mentally and physically; and just like these citizens, Americans today should not forget the experiences these citizens went through that helped ensure the unity of the United States of America. Advisor:  Professor Paul Escott.  Next year, Paul Stroebel will take a gap year in Spain and then return to the States to attend Law School.

Anna Williford, “Twisting the Lion’s Tail: Phases in Northern Anger at Great Britain during the American Civil War.” This paper sought to examine the relationship between the Union and Great Britain during the American Civil War. My thesis argued that the North’s attitude towards Great Britain was contingent upon Union military successes or failures, largely because Union defeat on the battlefield conversely meant Southern success. When Southern prospects looked favorable, the possibility of foreign recognition, especially by Great Britain, was a very real and disturbing prospect for the Union. To investigate this, I looked at the Trent Affair and the Battle of Cherbourg, two events that occurred at distinctly different times during the Civil War which illuminated the fickle nature of Anglo-American relations. By studying the reaction of the press in Northern newspapers following these two events, I was able to gauge public opinion and assess Northern attitudes toward Great Britain during different points in the war. The Trent Affair occurred in November 1861 while the Battle of Cherbourg was fought in June 1864. Although both events involved interactions between the Union and Great Britain, the distinct differences in timing allowed me to better chart the evolution of Anglo-American relations. Above all, these events illustrated how crucial timing and Union military prospects were in shaping Anglo-American affairs. This research highlighted how precarious the relationship was between Great Britain and the United States and how dangerously close war came between the two; such an occurrence would have produced a very different outcome of the Civil War. Advisor: Professor Paul D. Escott.  Anna will take a gap year next year working on Capitol Hill before pursuing graduate school.

Honors Abstracts 2012

Michael Byington, “The Political Reasoning behind Kwame Nkrumah’s continued Promotion of Pan-Africanism following Ghana’s Independence: 1957-1966.” In 1957, Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP) led Ghana to its independence from British colonial rule.  In the years that followed, the new Prime Minister continued to advocate for a single, unified African government in a movement known as Pan-Africanism.  This paper explores why Nkrumah so vigorously pursued Pan-Africanism following Ghana’s independence.  Historians agree that the most rational interpretation of Nkrumah’s continued support of Pan-Africanism is that he feared European-induced neo-colonialism.  But a more careful review of reports written by non-Ghanaians, British trade directories, and Nkrumah’s own words demonstrates that Ghana’s leader was also apprehensive about the actions of other newly independent African states.  Nkrumah believed Pan-Africanism was the means by which he could protect the political and economic interests of Ghanaians from both external empires and African nations.  His continued advocacy of Pan-Africanism demonstrates that he was neither a Pan-African hero nor Ghanaian tyrant as he is often portrayed but rather an overly ambitious leader of a newly liberated nation.  More importantly, his actions demonstrate why Pan-Africanism never came to fruition.  On the one hand, Nkrumah’s notion of the movement gave undue privilege to Ghana at the expense of other African states.  While Africans shared the common concern of neo-colonialism, the leaders of newly independent African nations did not want to relinquish their national sovereignty to a continental body under Nkrumah’s direction.  Pan-Africanism, as proposed by Nkrumah, was impossible despite the many political and economic benefits it might have held for Ghana or the continent as a whole. Advisor: Professor Nate Plageman.

Eleanor Davidson. Winston-Salem’s early twentieth-century industrialization caused tension between white textile mill workers and black tobacco workers, culminating to a race riot six days after Armistice. The alleged rape of a white woman by a black assailant sparked an outbreak of violence from textile workers who attempted to kidnap and lynch the accused man. Civic and industrial leaders downplayed the event, which reached a national audience, and the local justice system actually prosecuted white perpetrators to return the city to racial harmony and economic productivity.

William McClure, “The Ascendancy of Girolamo Savonarola in Fifteenth-Century Florence.” Savonarola’s rule of Florence from 1494 to 1498 is a unique episode in Florentine history and in the progression of the Renaissance. Espousing moral virtue, he attacked what he perceived as the vanities produced by the Florentine culture yet also instituted republican reforms which permitted citizens greater agency over their society. Though the current scholarship is deep on the actions of Savonarola and much attention is given to his motivations, there is not yet a comprehensive understanding of how he gained and maintained power during this period. Drawing heavily from his sermons, correspondences, and accounts and critiques written by his contemporaries, this paper argues that Savonarola rose to power through three specific means. It concurs with arguments previously set forth that Savonarola gained power by attacking the previous oligarchic government of the Medici and by capitalizing on the general disgust with the papacy and Church bureaucracy. However, this paper adds the previously unmentioned argument that Savonarola also effectively appealed to and integrated the disaffected young men of Florence into his movement. In setting forth these three components of Savonarola’s rise to power as well as maintenance of de facto leadership, this paper adds to the scholarship about Savonarola and this period of Florence and contributes to future research projects on this topic. Advisor: Professor Monique O’Connell.

Margaret Wood, “‘We Called Ourselves Revolutionaries’: Remembering Integration at Wake Forest University.” While Wake Forest was the first major Southern, private college to integrate, it was by no means the first or most-remembered integration. Many people recall the integration of large public universities like the University of Mississippi or the University of Alabama where violent white protests caused President John F. Kennedy to send in the U.S. Military to enforce desegregation. Yet these are extreme cases inconsistent with most Southern school integrations. Tulane University, Duke University, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, and Mercer University provide more characteristic examples of integration at private Southern colleges. In this paper, I will scrutinize the impetuses behind the federally-mandated desegregation at the University of Georgia, the integrations at Tulane, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt, and Rice as prominent, private Southern colleges, and the parallel motivations of Wake Forest’s sister Baptist institution, Mercer. The connections between Wake Forest University, the University of Georgia, Tulane University, Duke University, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, and Mercer University are evidence of a network of influence among all Southern schools as pressure to integrate climaxed in the 1960’s. Examinations of these schools’ integrations offer helpful context for understanding Wake Forest’s integration in the larger matter of integration in higher education. Advisor: Professor Michele Gillespie.

Honors Abstracts 2011

Alexander Boston, “The Raven and the Crown: Ethnic Diversity and Political Legitimacy in the Reign of Matthias Corvinus.” Hungarian history, along with that of many other Balkan and Central European countries, has been rife with ethnic strife.  The image of Matthias Corvinus, Hungary’s only native-born king in a four hundred year span became a rallying point for later Hungarian nationalists.  This is surprising because during his lifetime (1443-1490) Matthias never portrayed himself as Hungarian.  Instead, it seems that in order to unite his multicultural state politically, Matthias created a cosmopolitan image of himself, expressed in his army, administration, and courtly academic culture.

Emma Lawlor, “A Step from the Test Tube or the Domain of the Wooden Plow? The State, the Peasantry, and the Industrialization of Mexican Agriculture.” The Mexican Revolution was a period of exceptional political and social reform driven primarily by peasant demands for land. As a result, the rural peasant became a celebrated national symbol and the central target of revolutionary reform programs. Most notably, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) redistributed agricultural land to almost half of rural Mexicans. Yet scholars debate what happened next. In 1940, President Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940-1946) succeeded Cárdenas and restructured the national economy toward reliance on industrial agriculture. Camacho overlooked the productive capacity of Mexico’s peasant majority in order to foster development through increased production, modern technology, and international trade. This paper challenges some scholars’ assertions that Camacho’s economic reorientation represented a counterrevolution in which revolutionary ideals became inconsequential in the face of international modernizing forces. The paper asserts that the peasantry factored into Camacho’s agricultural policies as perceived beneficiaries and symbols of revolutionary legitimacy. The paper traces continuity in such symbolism from the 1920s to the 1940s by examining murals, periodicals, and presidential speeches. It charts a trend of presidents using the image of a primitive peasant as a backdrop for highlighting the revolutionary progress promised by their particular agricultural policies. Yet the paper also contends that such symbolic constructions obscured the peasantry’s true social and economic importance. As the industrialization of agriculture led to the uprooting of peasant societies, Mexico lost access to a variety of valuable services in terms of stability and social welfare that an agricultural sector sustained by peasants, not science and capitalism, had provided. Advisor: Professor Simone M. Caron.

Honors Papers 2010

Honors Papers 2009

Honors Papers 2008

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