Honors Students and Papers

Class of 2023

Honors Students and Papers

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.

Ellie Wasson “Alter Your Native 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.

Arielle 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 conversation 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.

Wynne 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.

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 can understand the natural world's power 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 recording 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.