Honors

Graduating Undergraduate Honors Scholars’ Research Covers the Globe

Of the many History majors who were graduated on May 8, twenty-two History majors graduated either as Honors Scholars or with Latin honors – some with both.

Five Honors Scholars shared their thesis abstracts with the department: one evaluates the impact of President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress on US foreign policy toward Chile; another examines the reversal of fortune for the English monarchy in the 13th century; and another investigates a possible connection between queer/queercore zines of the 1980s-2000s and radical queer politics. Another thesis analyzes the Kurdish nationalist movement in the 20th century, while another scrutinizes the impact of the Enrollment Act of 1863, the first national draft in United States history.

 

Harrison Fregeau '16, undergrad honors History majorHarrison Fregeau

Abstract: Facing the threat of communism spreading throughout Latin America after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, President Kennedy enacted a sweeping re-imagination of US regional foreign aid: The Alliance for Progress. Designed to thwart the spread of communism through improving continent-wide economic and social development, it represented a peak in US ambitions to affect policy changes abroad. This paper combines an analysis of US foreign policy towards Latin America, with more specific foci on Chile, US-Chile bilateral relations and the Chilean housing sector. Ultimately, the paper examines the relations between the two governments, particularly during the presidency of Eduardo Frei, an ambitious, pro-US reformer. Using housing policy as a case study, the paper examines how reformist aims contributed to counterproductive results, including the first democratic election of a Marxist president in the Western hemisphere.

 

Joseph Fusco

Joseph Fusco, History BA, Honors Scholar
Joseph Fusco

Abstract: After the reigns of Henry II and Richard I, the prestige of the English monarchy was at an unparalleled high. The kingdom owned large stretches of land in western France and after Richard’s prominent role in the Third Crusade the monarchy could scarcely be more respected. In the beginning of the 13th century the kingdom was ruled first by King John, and then by Henry III. Despite the power of their predecessors, both kings saw a massive downturn in their authority. The barons of England were constantly rebelling and they stripped much of the power away from the crown, until at one point the king was little more than a puppet with his son Edward held hostage and Magna Carta signed and sealed to preserve future limits on the King’s power. Many historians both then and now attribute this to the weaknesses of John and Henry III. However, while this was certainly a major factor, my research has uncovered an underlying theme of greed for power on behalf of the English nobility that I believe exceeds any weaknesses the monarchs had. This paper identifies how and why the English nobility stole power from the king, and to what degree the nobility were fighting for their own glory, and not the glory of their country.

 

Adam Kocurek

Adam Kocurek, History BA, Honors Scholar
Adam Kocurek

Abstract: In an effort to further historicize queer anarchist politics in the 20th century, this thesis worked to establish a connection between the queer/queercore zines of the 1980s-2000s and radical queer politics. Zines from the Queer Zine Archive Project database were closely examined and compared in an attempt to distill the radical politics that manifested in the space of queer punk, homopunk, and queercore. Through an exploration of these artifacts, it became evident that the radical leftist politics of the early Gay Liberation movement were transformed and founded renewed invigoration in the queercore scene, wherein authors expressed their thoughts and feelings on topics ranging from capitalism, homonormatism, racism, and normative gay integrationalist and assimilationist politics aimed at normative liberal moves towards citizenship.

 

David Luchs

“A State Denied: Kurdish Nationalism and the Problems of Ethnic Coordination”

David Luchs, History BA, Honors Scholar
David Luchs

Abstract: In this paper, I examine the history of the Kurdish nationalist movement in the 20th century. I propose that Kurdish nationalist movements that have the ability to encourage Kurds to self-identify along ethnic lines will have the most success in attracting support and achieving their goals. As a result, countries like Iraq where there is no unified sense of national identity will foster stronger Kurdish national movements. On the other hand, countries like Turkey where the state can counter Kurdish identity will be able to resist the demands of even strong Kurdish movements such as the PKK, which limits its support base by identifying itself as an ideological as well as an ethnic movement. In particular, states like Iran which successfully foster non-ethnic identification are successful in dissuading Kurds from joining Kurdish nationalist movement. This research suggests that ethnic nationalist movements which have a purely ethnic appeal for support are most likely to succeed, while those that also try to assert other messages (religious, ideological, social, etc.) are less likely.

 

Melissa Traub

Melissa Traub, History BA, Honors Scholar
Melissa Traub

Abstract: As recruitment slowly dwindled as the Civil War dragged on, the North was forced to pass the Enrollment Act of 1863, the first national draft in United States history. For an already unstable nation, the national draft did little to heal the divides that split the country. The policies of substitution and commutation led to great resentment, eventually sparking the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. To many Union soldiers, drafted men and substitutes were “unscrupulous men” who lied, deserted, and shirked their duty to their country. Other volunteers however, urged their loved ones to escape the draft and to support the war effort from home. My thesis examines and analyzes the thoughts and attitudes of these Union soldiers, recorded in their diaries and letters, giving us great insight into the average soldier’s opinion on recruitment and the draft, a view that has often been overshadowed by the public’s.

Helen Stec (’18) Awarded SURF Grant

Helen Stec ('18 History) and Charlie Smart ('18) at the UConn Archives. Photo credit: Peter Morenus.
Helen Stec (’18) and Charlie Smart (’18) at the UConn Archives. Photo credit: Peter Morenus/UConn Photo.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards support University of Connecticut full-time undergraduate students in summer research or creative projects.

SURF awards are available to students in all majors at all UConn campuses. SURF project proposals are reviewed by a faculty committee representing various Schools and Colleges, and SURF award recipients are chosen through a competitive process.

Helen Stec ’18 received a SURF Grant for work on a project titled “Battle from the Homefront: How Two Northern Women Helped Fight the Civil War.” Her faculty mentor is Professor Peter Baldwin.

Stec was also featured in a UConn Today article in April, “Campus Radio Tells Story of Storrs.

UPDATE: Helen’s research at the Mark Twain House, as part of her SURF grant, was featured in a UConn Today article in August, “A Summer with Mark Twain.”

Elena Boushée (’17) Recipient of Summer Research Funding

Distance view of Paris, featuring Eiffel Tower
By Wladyslaw (Taxiarchos228) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia

Elena Boushée has been awarded funding to pursue research in France in support of her honors thesis, tentatively titled “The Path to Legalized Abortion in France: A History of Reproductive Rights in French Political, Cultural and Social Life from 1967-1975.”

From Elena:

“I plan to go to France in the summer of 2016 to research my senior honors thesis, which will focus on the events leading up to the 1975 legalization of abortion in France. Between the legalization of contraceptive methods in 1967 and the enactment of the Veil laws of 1975, the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes was born out of the May 1968 revolutions, and second-wave feminism in France began. This research will look at the ways in which these movements, in combination with the events that unfolded in the late 1960s and 1970s, shaped French understandings of women’s bodies’ and women’s participation in the public sphere, and how these attitudes and understandings led to the 1975 legislation. I will also be examining the significance of class on the enactment, enforcement, and eventual destruction of the pre-1975 laws restricting reproductive rights.

This research will consider a few events in particular, including the highly publicized and controversial court case in Bobigny, in the northeast suburbs of Paris, in 1972. The case garnered widespread attention as existentialist feminist Simone de Beauvoir took to the stand for the defense, claiming that she had had an abortion but had not been prosecuted because of her wealth and social status. I plan to investigate how abortion policy in France previous to 1975 disproportionately may have targeted underprivileged women whose voices did not hold political, economic or social sway.

To research this project fully, I need to go to Paris in order to access a number of collections uniquely available at the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand and the Bibliothèque Nationale. I also plan to go to the Université d’Angers, which has a renowned feminist archive. I plan to stay for one week, to photocopy and photograph these materials. These archives are not digitized and so the collections are not available in the United States. I spent the last full academic year (2014-2015) studying in Paris. I reached a high level of proficiency in the French language while abroad. This will allow me to conduct in-depth research in the French-language archival materials in Paris and Angers. This research project will be a valuable contribution to the humanities. It works at the intersection of a number of fields, including women’s history, the history of the body, the history of post-war France and the history of reproductive rights. I will examine how reproductive rights in France came to be so important not only politically, but also culturally and socially. I will explore the allegedly discriminatory abortion laws in France, and how these became a public concern with the “Manifeste de 343” and the trial at Bobigny. In order to create a more comprehensive understanding of how these and previous events such as the May 1968 revolutions lead to the legalization of abortion, I will study a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to understand the relationship between women’s bodies’ and French life and politics at the time.”