Commencement 2023

June 9, 2023

A group photo of the members of the department on the steps of Rush Rhees Library.

Congratulations to our 2023 Graduates!

Commencement Weekend took place May 12-14, 2023. Congratulations to our graduate and undergraduate degree recipients!

The Department of History Commencement Ceremony was recorded and is available to view online.

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Class of 2023 History Majors

  • Mark Barrera
  • Allison Beckwith
  • Brad Beckwith
  • Winifred Belk
  • Chloe Thompson Campbell
  • Nathan Charissis
  • Zhaofei Chen Sebastian
  • Cordero Velastegui
  • Basil Croak
  • Molly Divoll
  • Ari Drotch
  • Megan Emery
  • Madison Esposito
  • Aydan Fusco
  • Matthew Giles
  • Yifei Huang
  • Adam Huewe
  • Lillian Hutton
  • Daniel Kurtz
  • Sam Peihan
  • Li Zhao Liu
  • Keegan Matthews
  • Wenzhuo Pan
  • Jingron Pei
  • Joseph Pham
  • Justin Jay Pimentel-Leal
  • Francisco E. Prieto
  • Molly Raichle
  • Isabel Rivera
  • Arielle Nicole Savoy
  • Penelope Sergi
  • Brook A. Tekle
  • Elvis Vasquez
  • Scot Visiko-Knox
  • Newell (Ellie) Wasson
  • Anna Grace Wenger
  • Jiahang Wu

Class of 2023 History Minors

  • Tianying Chen
  • Samantha Dinhofer
  • Lael Dratfield
  • Muhammed El-Sayed
  • Joseph Grogan
  • Andrew Hekl
  • Matthew Kiel
  • Molly Kilian
  • Jasper Lemberg
  • Sophie Lever
  • Alexander Muchnick
  • Casey Press
  • Sawyer Tehan
  • Wil Vanderslice
  • Kyra Yehle

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Undergraduate Prizes and Awards in History

Wilson Coates Senior Honors Essay Award in History

To the senior student who has written the best senior essay in the department this year.

  • Winifred Belk "For Whom the Bell Tolls: Salvation and the Dead in Reformation England, 1525-1630"

N.B. Ellison Prize

To the members of the senior class concentrating in history who have done the best work in the department.

  • Megan Emery

History Seminar Prize

To the History major who has written the best HIST 300W level Seminar Paper.

  • Jiahang Wu "The Definitive Role of Piracy and Slave Trading in the 1520-1620 Ming-Portuguese Relationship"

Hugh Mackenzie Memorial Prize

To a first-year woman who has shown the highest achievement and interest in a history course and to the first-year woman who has shown the greatest improvement in a history course.

  • Paola Almendarez

Eugene H. Webb Prize

To the undergraduate students who have done the best work in a course dealing with the Black experience in America.

  • Godbless Chille
  • Sarah Cushman

Herbert Lawrence Sadinsky Memorial Prize

To the best undergraduate history paper on an aspect of World War II.

  • Ronin Ross "Women, Communism, and Greece's Bloody Twentieth-Century"

Christopher Lasch Fellows in History

Each year, the department invites a select group of senior History majors to become Christopher Lasch Fellows. Lasch Fellows enroll in the demanding graduate-level course Problems in Historical Analysis during the fall semester of their senior year.

  • Megan Emery
  • Aydan Fusco
  • Keegan Matthews
  • Anna Grace Wenger

Phi Beta Kappa

  • Megan Emery
  • Madison Esposito
  • Matthew Kiel
  • Sophie Lever
  • Isabel Rivera
  • Jiahang Wu

Phi Alpha Theta

  • Chloe Thompson Campbell
  • Megan Emery
  • Molly Raichle
  • Newell (Ellie) Wasson
  • Anna Grace Wenger

Take Five Scholar

  • Winifred Belk
  • Sebastian Cordero Velastegui
  • Lael Dratfield
  • Aydan Fusco

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Honors Students and Papers

Congratulations to our honors program participants! The Honors Colloquium, held on April 28, 2023, was the culmination of this year's honors program and proof of the innovative historical research being carried out by our students.

Winifred Belk For Whom the Bell Tolls: Salvation and the Dead in Reformation England, 1525-1630

This paper explores how the elimination of purgatory during the English Reformation reshaped the idea of salvation. I argue how in the Middle Ages, the search for one's salvation represented a communal endeavor. This meant that salvation could only be achieved in a relationship with other Christians, and that their help was instrumental in determining the eschatological destiny of an individual person's soul. By eliminating purgatory, a concept which rationalized a relational obligation between the dead and the living, the Reformation made salvation a reward which could only be achieved by individual choice. Furthermore, the severing of a relationship with the dead not only changed how salvation was achieved, but also secularized the practices and traditions surrounding death since the theological significance of post-mortem practices was undermined by the elimination of purgatory. On the whole, the removal of the dead catalyzed a communal transformation and has reshaped funeral traditions, emotional practices, literature, and intellectual thought in England to this day.

Megan Emery The Spirit of New Orleans: Multiracial Creolization and the Origins of New Orleans Culture, 1803-1850

This research project concentrates on the city of New Orleans in its territorial period from 1803-1812, a decade commencing with the Louisiana Purchase and the conclusion of the Haitian Revolution. In transitioning from a European colony to an American state, New Orleans emerged as a profitable port city intersecting the greater transatlantic world. Due to its unique position in time and space, New Orleans became a hub for both refugees fleeing from Saint-Domingue and other volatile Caribbean nations who, upon migration, encountered culturally French New Orleanians. Within this convergence, a process of creolization ensued within the urban space forging a culturally constructed group consciousness. This decade-long interregnum period from 1803-1812 established the foundation for the cultural infrastructure that would keep New Orleans distinguishable from the rest of the United States through the 1840s. Such creolization was only able to proliferate in the urban space of New Orleans.

Molly Raichle American Frontier Mythology and Cultural Identity: The Implications for the American Summer Camp Movement and the Native Assimilation Campaign in the Early Twentieth Century

At the turn of the 20th century, Americans had two uniquely intertwined preoccupations: one centered around the Indian and the other around the modern American (white) Child. This thesis analyzes the 20th-century cultural landscape that fostered this enduring association, which manifested in elaborate displays of “Indian play” at American summer camps of the early 20th century and to this day. Each chapter centers around two particularly significant leaders of this movement: Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa). Seton and Eastman established summer camps, the Woodcraft Indians and Camp Oahe and Ohiyesa, where Indian iconography and play factored significantly into children’s daily activities. This thesis contextualizes Seton and Eastman’s written records and summer camp models within the 20th century cultural landscape of social Darwinism, developmental child psychology, and modern settler-colonial policies and ideologies Seton and Eastman each wrote popular children’s books, Two Little Savages and Indian Boyhood, autobiographies, Trail of an Artist Naturalist and From Deep Woods to Civilization, and camp manuals, Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians and Indian Scout Talks. Although their professional careers mirrored each other’s, their views on Indianness differed—Seton espoused a romantic and antimodern Indian as his model and Eastman rooted his Dakota traditions in the present while attempting to challenge widely-held Native stereotypes. Ultimately, each chapter serves to highlight the complex, contradictory, and enduring elements of modern American cross-cultural settler-colonial relationships, which have profoundly informed and molded U.S. history.

Arielle Nicole Savoy The War Inside: Masculinity and Mental Health in the Great War

In the early 20th century, Western Europe underwent a drastic period of modernization. Modernization had an effect on the medical field as more people were diagnosed with “nerves”, and new technology and ways of life were pinpointed as a possible cause. WWI exacerbated the issue as men, who were believed to be immune to feminine illnesses such as hysteria, were increasingly showing symptoms of nervous disorders. By analyzing the effects of modernization and the conditions of war time, and placing these factors in conversati on with medical research and case studies by prominent neuropsychiatrists, we can understand how the medical field was impacted. Furthermore, contemporary literature and primary source documents allow for an in depth discussion of the role of gender norms and stereotypical ideas about masculinity in diagnosing and treating trauma related mental illness. In order to understand what conditions were for soldiers of both the Allied and Central Powers this project focuses primarily on Britain and Austria.

Newell (Ellie) Wasson Alter Your Deutschland: The Do-It-Yourself Material Culture of the East German Punk Scene, 1979-1989

This thesis examines expressions of punk identity through fashion and music as material culture in order to demonstrate how GDR punk was the distinct product of unique social and political conditions. Punk music and ideology appealed to disillusioned East German youth during the last decade of the GDR’s existence, and over the course of the 1980s the subculture developed into a distinctive political movement that is often given partial credit for bringing down the Berlin Wall. Through an analysis of photographs, Stasi files, and song lyrics, “Alter Your Native Deutschland” demonstrates that punks in the GDR took extreme risks to demand freedom of expression and agency in determining their own futures, and that this subculture cannot be understood apart from the social, political, and economic conditions of East Germany in the 1980s.

Anna Grace Wenger The Feminine Sublime: Margaret Fuller's American Aesthetic in Poetry and Prose

This thesis sets out to determine the definition and importance of the American feminine sublime in the work of Margaret Fuller from 1820 to 1844. By examining the poetry and prose she wrote during this time, we are able to understand the power of the natural world in her philosophical consciousness. Included in this project are 1) a short biography of Fuller with emphasis on her academically oriented pursuits, work on gender and women’s rights, and locations of residence, 2) a minor study on the genealogy of the sublime through classical literature and contextualized in the American context through Fuller’s contemporary for the purposes of better understanding her own possible sublime, and 3) close readings of her manuscripts, including poetry and prose, some publicly available and some located in archival spaces. These close readings serve as case studies for the recording of her experiences of the sublime. The sublime, to Margaret Fuller, is an experience of power, awe, and understood comfort as catalyzed by natural beauties. These beauties do not need to be great—they could be the light on the ripples of a stream or the colors of the flowers outside. The abstract ideas of seclusion, comfort, and beauty are all influenced here by her feminine identity, as her nature is engaged with gender in their roles in her consciousness and writings. Nature is nurturing and protective, not terrifying or meant to be utterly feared, and takes on a deeply feminine voice to Fuller. The landscape is personified, accessible, and beautiful. The feminine sublime, then, is influenced by more nuanced aspects than previous evolutions of the philosophy, based especially on the closeness to the landscape being observed, both physically and emotionally. Her sublime is one that can be shared across millennia and miles alike, one that should be set into further conversation with the recorded work on the Emersonian sublime and that of his contemporaries.

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Graduate Degrees

MA awarded:

  • Kerida Plaza

PhD awarded:

  • Shellie Clark Frances Seward: Nineteenth-Century Politics in the Private Sphere
  • Daniel Gorman, Jr. Phantom Luminaries: Frederick Willis, Spiritualism, and Paranormal Investigators in the Age of Disruption (August 2023)
  • Corinna Hill Paternalistically Yours: A Historical Study of Five Friendships Between Deaf and Hearing Americans from 1840 to 1920
  • Katrina Ponti Virtuous Emulations of Liberty: Citizen Diplomacy in U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1780-1818
  • Alyssa Rodriguez How to be Soviet: The Public Performance of Soviet Identity via the Legal System, 1968-1985

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Graduate Prizes and Awards in History

Willson Havelock Coates Book Award

To the graduate student having among other qualifications, a conspicuous gift for historical imagination and the capacity for sustained and accurate research (in British history, European intellectual history, or philosophy of history).

  • Claire Becker

Sanford Elwitt Memorial Prize

To a graduate student in European history for research and travel in memory of Professor Sanford Elwitt

  • Jeff Baron

Harkins Prize

A prize in memory of William F. Harkins Jr. to a graduate student who has written the best seminar paper.

  • Lizzy Carr

Donald Marks “Dexter Perkins” Prize

To perpetuate the name of Dexter Perkins and to encourage and assist a worthy student in their cultural and intellectual development.

  • Beom Mo Koo
  • Kerida Plaza

Meyers Graduate Teaching Prize

To a graduate student who has excelled in teaching.

  • Justin Grossman

David Bruce Parker Memorial Prize

To the graduate student who best represents the dedication and courage which characterized David’s participation in the graduate program.

  • Katelyn Getchel

Lina and A. William Salomone Prize

To the graduate student who has done outstanding work in Modern European history.

  • Daniel McDermott

Glyndon VanDeusen Award

To support travel and dissertation research and writing for a fourth year history graduate student

  • Claire Becker

Aida DiPace Donald Fellowship

To support graduate fellowships in American History.

  • Lizzy Carr
  • Kevin Sapere

Dr. Bruce F. Pauley Research Fellowship

To support graduate student research travel, with preference for students pursuing archival research in Europe

  • Marissa Crannell-Ash

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University Commencement

For more information on commencement, please visit the University of Rochester Commencement page.

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