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Senior Theses, 2011-2012


Marilyn Cobiseno: “Three Generations of Imbeciles is Enough”: Eugenics, Progressivism and Sterilization in Virginia and California in the Early 20th Century

The Progressive Movement has generally been looked at in a positive light by historians, whereas the American Eugenics movement seemingly revealed the dark undercurrent of the early twentieth century social beliefs. Both movements sought the improvement of society, though through different means. The relationship that existed between these two movements was one of shared goals and convergence upon the sterilization statutes. This paper examines this relationship by examining the case studies of Virginia and California.


Nora Davidson: “Folk tales, ballads, and superstition: Highland Women's Agency in Nineteenth Century Scotland”

Throughout the nineteenth century, the Scottish Highlands experienced a period of upheaval known as the Highland Clearances. During this period, landlords replaced traditional small tenant owners, or crofters,  with more profitable sheep and deer parks. Many crofters were moved to coastal areas or shipped off to another country all together. These events culminated in the Highland Land War, during which crofters protested the usurpation of their traditional land rights by landlords. Fairy tales, ballads, and other superstitious cultural beliefs played an important role in Highland life. Women used these tools to express their resistance to being dispossessed and to reassert their identity as Scottish Highland women.


Dani Gaisior: “Good Wolf, Bad Wolf: Werewolves in Harry Potter”

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has become internationally recongnized as a superb piece of both children's and young adult literature. Within the context of the series, Rowling uses standard mythical creatures from folklore including two werewolves, Remus Lupin and Fenrir Greyback. Each of these characters embody a different view of the werewolf through contrasting historical associations with lycanthropy and the symbolic associations created by their given names. This paper is going to examine Lupin and Greyback in order to explain how their personalities are set by the historical implications connected to them.


Tine Guldebrand: “Sanctuary or Mass Graves: Rwandan Churches During the Genocide"

The church was established in Rwanda by missionaries from the colonizing countries, Germany and Belgium. Not only were these countries aiding the ethnic division between the Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority, but they were also causing the church to participate. Rwanda had its lowest and most shameful event starting April 6th, 1994, where thousands of their population was massacred. As Rwandans had been taught, churches were a place of sanctuary, therefore as the killers were rampaging villages all through the country, many refugees sought safety in these locations, Churches, however, offered little protection and soon were just large common ground for dead bodies.


Megan Hamill: “Hypocritical Oath: Medical Ethics in the Case of Steven Biko"

The apartheid era in South Africa was a period characterized by extreme violence, which grew in frequency and intensity by the 1970s. Under apartheid, racist ideas extended to every area of life, including health care. In 1977, Steven Biko, the black anti-apartheid activist who founded the Black Consciousness Movement, died while in police detention. This case study examines the actions of three of the physicians who examined Biko during his imprisonment and argues that their failure to diagnose and treat Biko for the serious head injuries he sustained while in custody ultimately led to his death in September of 1977. It also examines the reaction of the medical community of South Africa as a whole, who condoned the physicians’ actions though evidence against them proved their behavior constituted medical malpractice.


Megan Hall:Them’s Fighting Words: War of the Roses Accounts from Yorkist and Lancastrian Chronicles

Medieval chronicles provide historians with the most complete and detailed accounts of what actually occurred during the Middle Ages and more specifically during the War of the Roses. The chronicles created during the War of the Roses time period were overall very sporadic in topic yet many provide important details about individual battles and political actions. The selected chronicles focus more on a timeline of history rather than the enumeration of specific occurrences. Because the War of the Roses involved two rival houses, Lancaster and York, vying for the same throne, the authors of the chronicles found it difficult to write without choosing sides. As such, many endorsed one side over the other and these decisions are reflected throughout their chronicles. The History of the Arrival of Edward IV in England and the Final Recover of His Kingdoms from Henry VI and Holinshed’s Chronicles constitute the York chronicles examined. Warkworth’s Chronicle and The Concordance of Histories also known as The Chronicle of Fabian provided sufficient evidence detailing the Lancastrian stance.

By examining chronicles from both sides of the conflict, it is possible to see that in writing these accounts, the authors hoped to further their political ambitions, portray their chosen sides’ goals and aims, and ultimately to damage the reputation of the opposition for their readers. These aims would have lasting effects both for the contemporary understanding of events and for the historians who study the chronicles to evaluate what life in the Middle Ages was really like.


Sarah Hodgkins: “The Impact of Personality and Experience on Decision-Making: Neville Chamberlain and his Policy of Appeasement”

Neville Chamberlain is best remembered for having brokered the Munich Agreement with Adolph Hitler in 1938, and his name has been linked ever since to appeasement.  Chamberlain's decision-making style grew from his experiences as a young adult on the Bahaman island of Andros, where as a plantation master for six years he managed a vast estate virtually alone.  The psychological effect of Chamberlain's isolation instilled an independent spirit and an unwillingness to listen to others' suggestions.  The experience at Andros laid the foundation for a self-sufficient man and shaped the decision-making approach that influenced Great Britain's foreign policy during the critical years prior to World War II.


Amy Hunt: More Than "Cheesecake": Drum Magazine, Politics, and Black Urban Identity in South Africa in the 1950s”

In 1951, three years after the apartheid Nationalist Party came to power in South Africa, Drum magazine hit the newsstands and, throughout the decade, grew in popularity among the urban black population. Scholars have examined the fiction published in Drum and the lives of its writers, but they have ignored how Drum documented the formation of political ideology. Because Drum’s editors hoped to influence party politics and gain support for the anti-apartheid effort, the writers were unafraid to criticize the African National Congress and to promote an urban identity among their readers. This paper will analyze how Drum aimed to connect the urban black population and create a unified, politicized urban identity.


Myriah LaChance: “Desmond Tutu’s idea of restorative justice evaluated through two hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa”


Carrie Lawler: “A Woman’s Secret: Medieval Birth Control” 

Prior to the second half of the 20th century, the use and methods of birth control were not prominent in daily discourse despite the fact that people wanted to use birth control and often did. Although the precise time period of the development of both contraceptives and abortifacients remains unknown, historians can date their uses back to ancient Egypt. In early antiquity, birth control was used for various purposes, like population control or for more personal reasons and was not generally understood as morally wrong. With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, however, ethical questions rose and by the Middle Ages the use of birth control was deemed morally unacceptable and was forced to become a woman’s secret. This paper will examine these shifts in ideologies by comparing two medical texts written by contemporary women, Trota of Salerno, a secular author, and Hildegard of Bingen, a Christian abbess, in the 11th and 12th centuries.


Madeline Rathey: “The Divergent Paths of Union and Confederate Scouts and Spies in the War of the Rebellion” 

Despite the large amount of scholarly research and popular literature that has been written on the topic of intelligence gathering during the U.S. Civil War, a set distinction has not yet been made between the activities of scouts and the activities of spies from this particular war. In history, a difference between these two forms of intelligence gathering exists; however, the pattern in Civil War literature is to treat both together, or to focus entirely on the adventures of spies. Too often, the contributions made by scouts are overlooked. Similarly overlooked, is the subdivision between an intellectual spy and a spy of opportunity, or a person who did not set out to become an espionage agent, but happened to be in the right place, at the right time. These two types of spies were significantly different in their motivations and preparations, therefore, require two separate classifications.

This paper examines specific cases of scouts and spies, including Berry Benson, Rose Greenhow, Elizabeth Van Lew, Belle Boyd, and Ambrose Hayward. Benson’s work helps to define the role of scouts for both armies. Rose Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew are ideal examples of what it meant to be an active spy. Each woman set out to have a career as an espionage agent during the war, and subsequently created a network of spies. Belle Boyd and Robert Ford were both spies of opportunity. They happened to hear valuable intelligence information and made the decision to convey it to the opposing army. This paper will argue that clear distinctions exist between the duties of scouts, spies, and spies of opportunity. These distinctions become evident when studying specific agents, their motivations and impact, as well as their fates.