2022 Undergraduate Prize Day Winners

On April 29, the History Department celebrated the outstanding achievements of our students. We congratulate you!

Undergraduate History Excellence Award

Lisette Donewald

Tyler Joseph Sciortino

Maddalena and Joseph Perrella Scholarship Fund

Tyler Joseph Sciortino 

Allen M. Ward Prize in Ancient History

Hannah Kallin 

Karl Z. Trybus Undergraduate Award for Exceptional Work in Modern European History

Luca Di Cicco

Roger N. Buckley Award

Silas Cianci

Heather A. Parker Excellence in Historical Writing Award

Katherine King

Connecticut Celebration 350th Scholarship 

Sydney Gray

Sandra Rux Award

Brendon Dukett

UConn Today Profiles Mehdi Namazi ’22 (CLAS)

image of Mehdi NamaziUConn Today featured double History and Political Science major Mehdi Namazi’22 in a recent issue. Feeling led toward activist work, Namazi found the blend of history and political science to serve his intellectual and professional interests. He has decided to pursue a career in advocacy or policy work and is open to wherever those paths may lead. , Namazi hopes that his passion for coffee shops will sustain him as he explores life post-graduation. Congratulations and we look forward to following your journey!

The full UConn Today profile reveals more about Mehdi Namazi’s UConn experiences–from extracurricular activities to advice for first-year students.

Undergraduate Honors Student Thesis Spotlight: Kasey Schempf

Kellems Image Schempf ThesisUConn History undergraduate alum Kasey Schempf blends questions of taxation and representation in her examination of Vivien Kellems. Interested in exploring a “feminist rebranding” of the crusader for tax equality, Schempf looks to the CT-based activism of a woman considered to a feminist visionary.

Kasey Schempf, “Unveiling the Feminist Character of Vivien Kellems”
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Peter Baldwin

Vivien Kellems was undoubtedly a crusader for tax equality, inspiring many later movements. The Connecticut businesswoman openly despised the Federal Income Tax, among other taxes. She certainly wasn’t afraid to share her opinion, even if it wouldn’t make her any friends. However, in the late 1960s, Kellems began to appeal to a new demographic: young, unmarried women. She moved away from her radical, conservative language and assumed the role of the “spinster,” advocating for younger women. She aligned herself with the movement against the Singles Penalty, or the notion that single tax filers were “penalized” for remaining single. As a result, Kellems is typically praised by scholars as a feminist leader and supporter of Second-Wave Feminism.

This paper aims to examine the transformation of Vivien Kellems from a radical political character to a common household name as she strategically campaigned for single tax filers. Moreover, this study will highlight the activist efforts of Kellems and investigate the possibility of a “feminist rebranding” to secure more supporters for her true motive: to overhaul the American tax system.

Undergraduate Honors Student Thesis Spotlight: Shankara Narayanan

2022-2-11-Undergrad Thesis Post - ShankaraUConn ’21 grad Shankara Narayanan explored the power of discourse in the making of US-China relations. A fascinating and timely study.

Shankara Narayanan, Knowing China, Losing China: Discourse and Power in U.S.-China Relations
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Alexis Dudden

The U.S. government’s 2017 National Security Strategy claimed, “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the U.S. foreign policy community’s discursive shift towards Realist competition with China, with officials from the past three presidential administrations coming to view China as a threat to democratic governance and America’s security posture in Asia. The discourse underpinning the U.S.-China relationship, however, remains understudied. During key moments in the relationship, U.S. policymakers’ Realist intellectual frameworks failed to account for Chinese nationalism, suggesting a problem embedded within America’s strategic discourse. This manuscript uses discourse analysis to analyze why and how American officials failed to create a strong, united, and democratic China during the Marshall Mission (1945-1947), arguing that the use of Realist constructs, great-power frameworks, and theories of geopolitical realism prevented them from accounting for Mao Zedong’s postcolonial nationalism, leading to the Mission’s failure.

Stefon Danczuk ’16 Named New Circuit Rider for Preservation CT

Preservation CT has welcomed Stefon Danczuk (’16) as a field service consultant for the Circuit Rider Program. He will provide on-site archaeological services that provide technical support and promote the importance of archaeological preservation.  While working at Preservation CT, Danczuk is also pursuing a Master’s in Public History at Central Connecticut State University. All the details about Danczuk’s new and exciting role are profiled in this article, New Preservation CT Staff. A job well done!

Undergraduate Honors Student Thesis Spotlight: Nicole Mooradd

Image of Anne of Greene GablesFor their senior honors thesis, UConn History ’21 graduate Nicole Mooradd explored Progressive Era children’s literature, marking shifts in gender norms, child-rearing, and notions of “respectable” girlhood. A job well done!

Nicole Mooradd, “’Just Be Glad’: Fiction for Girls during the Progressive Era, 1897-1920”
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Peter Baldwin

Prior to the early twentieth century, most children’s books were written for boys and focused on a specifically masculine set of characteristics. Following the release of Little Women in the mid-nineteenth century and the emergence of first-wave feminism, the Progressive Era brought about a new time for literature to thrive, specifically books written explicitly for female children. Many of these books written for girls were by female authors and focused on domestic stories of girls going through an average and expected life. These stories reflect the distinct gender roles expected for female children to adhere to as they grow older and enter into adulthood. This essay argues that these stories use “goodness” and its influence on the concept of feminine duty to highlight typical feminine gender roles that the authors want young readers to emulate as they grow older. Although the women’s place was changing in society, there were still a continuing emphasis of domesticity, womanhood, and childhood that females could not escape. I will focus on three domestic fiction stories, Kate Douglas Wiggins Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Eleanor H. Porter’s Pollyanna, and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables to explore these themes. These stories were staples of literature that were popular for young American girls during the Progressive Era and continue to be incredibly famous stories that influence society in the present.

Undergraduate Alumni Spotlight: Sulema DePeyster in the Field

Sulema DePeyster, UConn History, EPOCH InternWe are thrilled to announce that UConn History ’21 graduate Sulema DePeyster has decided to continue her work in community-based historical engagement. She has joined the Windsor Historical Society as the first  Community History Specialist. In this newly created position, DePeyster will design oral history projects that engage the Windsor community. During her time at UConn, DePeyster worked with History Professor Fiona Vernal on several oral history projects that made the untold stories of Windsor residents more visible and accessible. DePeyster’s commendable work garnered awards including the Undergraduate History Excellence Award and the Sandra Rux Fellowship.  Read more about Sulema DePeyster in this article from the Windsor Historical Society. Congratulations! We look forward to this next chapter.




Undergraduate Honors Student Thesis Spotlight: Abigail Meliso

image of Greek theaterFor their senior honors thesis, UConn History ’21 graduate, Abigail Meliso, reflected on the roles and contributions of women to theater in Ancient Greece. Great work!

Abigail Meliso, “Greek Women and the Theatre: An Analysis of the Presence and Participation of Women in Ancient Greek Theater”

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Joseph McAlhany 

Western drama can trace its lineage back thousands of years to classical Greece. We see the impact of classical playwrights still in modern theater, as well as various other areas of our society. Even now, students are assigned Antigone in high school and Oedipus has had his troubles immortalized in psychiatric jargon. However, as ubiquitous and easily accessible as it is now, scholarship throughout the years has debated how inclusive classical Greek theater was, particularly in regards to whether women were permitted to participate in or even observe performances. While it has proven popular to deny this possibility, given the occasional raunchiness of the plays and the limited autonomy of women at the time, some evidence suggests that, not only were women present in the audience of theatrical festivals, but sometimes a few select women would perform publicly.

Undergraduate Honors Student Thesis Spotlight: Madison May

Image Madison May Thesis Civil RightsUConn ’21 graduate Madison May worked with UConn History Professor Charles Lansing on their senior thesis. Their project is an intellectual history of Black political thought within the context of World War II. In focusing on Black perceptions and writings about World War II, Nazism, and Jewish persecution, May examines how the global fight against Nazi Germany influenced the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  A job well done! 

Madison May, “Persecution Reaps Freedom: the Impact of the War Against Nazi Germany on the American Civil Rights Movement”

Thesis Advisor: Charles Lansing

This senior honors thesis examines the experience of African Americans during World War II, abroad and on the home front. The guiding questions for this study include: what was the relationship between the Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement?; What did Black soldiers and journalists, at home and abroad, think about the fight against Nazism?; Did the existence of the atrocities committed during World War II accelerate social change? Finally, what connections did Black Americans make with Jewish persecution? Although work has already been done on this topic, this thesis is original in its source content and builds upon the past work of others. Sources for this thesis include a mixture of books, articles, monographs, oral histories, and newspaper articles. There are twenty-two interviews by Black World War Two veterans and twenty-five articles from African American newspapers used as research, spanning from 1933, when the Nazis came to power, to 1946, a year after the war ended. It has been concluded from the research that African American experience during World War II did in fact serve as a spark for the Civil Rights Movement, and social change in general.