Undergraduate

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Spotlight: Michael Francomano

Image for Nuclear Weapons in Marshall IslandsUConn ’21 graduate Michael Francomano worked with UConn History Professor Alexis Dudden on their senior thesis that explores the legal discourses around nuclear weapons in the twentieth century. A job well done! 

Michael Francomano, “The Influence of the United States on Nuclear Laws”

Thesis Advisor: Alexis Dudden

The United States government has influenced the laws surrounding the use of nuclear weapons from the moment of their first use against a civilian population in 1945. These efforts include countless measures taken to absolve the United States from responsibility for their actions. This is especially seen in the Marshall Islands where US government efforts to abjure legal responsibility to help those directly impacted by radioactive fallout resulting from weapons testing between 1945 and 1962 abound as do efforts to attend the natives that were completely displaced from their home islands destroyed in the name of nuclear testing. These actions span to current day warfare. In so doing, the United States government defies international laws prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in war in the form of armor piercing rounds of munitions made out of depleted uranium (used as recently as 2015 in Syria). The legality of these weapons is something that remains a gray area in international law, and a major contributor to that is the fact that the United States has used its power and history with nuclear weapons to influence the creation of new precedents and disregard the laws that have already been in place.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Spotlight: Michael Fox

Image of Queen Elizabeth in Parliament

UConn ’21 graduate Michael Fox worked with UConn History Professor Meredith Rusoff on their senior thesis that explores  freedom of speech in early modern England. A job well done! 

Michael Fox, ““A Strange Thing for the Foot to Guide the Head”: Freedom of Speech in Elizabethan Parliaments

Thesis Advisor: Meredith Rusoff

Freedom of speech is a right that many in the United States, and the Western world, take for granted as something that is critical for any modern democratic society to function. However, this has not been the case for the vast majority of Western, and human, history. It is during the early-modern period, specifically the Enlightenment, that concepts such as freedom of speech were developed, and eventually became fully encoded in law. Britain, more specifically England, led the way in the development of freedom of speech within its Parliament, and the practice of common law. Similar to how the government itself evolved in England, so too did its concept of what rights and liberties could be exercised.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Spotlight: Elisabeth Bienvenue

Headshot of History Undergrad Alum Elisabeth BienvenueUConn ’21 graduate Elisabeth Bienvenue worked with UConn History Professor Nancy Shoemaker on their senior thesis that explored music and culture among New Englanders of Franco American descent. A job well done!

Elisabeth Bienvenue, “La Vie en Chant: The Role of Songbooks in Twentieth Century Franco-American Survivance”

Thesis Advisor: Nancy Shoemaker

The Chants Populaires des Franco-Américains were a collection of songbooks published by the Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d’Amérique in Woonsocket, Rhode Island from 1929-1962. These songbooks should be considered as part of “la survivance” (“the survival”), a mindset in which the Franco-Americans of New England sought to preserve the French language, Catholic faith, and cultural ties to Quebec and Acadia in future generations. This paper argues that survivance was both a political and cultural phenomenon and that while the politicized survivance movement fell out of favor after the divisive reform effort known as the Sentinelle Affair ended in 1928, the cultural aspects of survivance endured for several more decades. While the songbooks serve as a powerful example of the importance of music and culture among Franco-Americans of the twentieth century, the songbooks themselves did not survive in mass distribution, but they successfully contributed to the movement to create a cultural legacy among New Englanders of Franco-American descent.

“UConn to Offer Collaborative Minor in Digital Public History”

On June 1st, UConn Today featured the exciting news of a new minor to be offered by the University – Digital Public History! Featuring collaboration between the Department of History and the Department of Digital Media and Design, students who declare the minor will take five transdisciplinary courses: “Introduction to Digital HumanitiesTopics in Public History, Collaborating with Cultural Organizations, an experiential Digital Public History Internship with a local library, archive, museum, or other cultural organization, and a project-based capstone course, the Digital Public History Practicum, co-taught by faculty from both History and DMD.”

Tom ScheinfeldtFiona Vernal, Assistant Professor of History at the University of ConnecticutThe funding for this minor comes from a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $35,000 planning grant awarded to two UConn faculty, Associate Professors Fiona Vernal (left) and Tom Scheinfeldt (right). Students interested in the minor can begin taking classes in Fall 2020. To read the article, click here.

Undergrad alum Regan Miner named part-time Executive Director at NHS

Miner NHS Guided Tour

Regan Miner, UConn History Major and class of 2013, was named part-time Executive Director at the Norwich Historical Society (NHS). Miner, a Norwich native, previously served as a consultant to the NHS during which she amassed over $120,000 in grant funding over the span of six months to restore the 18th Century Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse, now home to the Norwich Heritage andRegional Visitors’ Center, to create the “Discover Norwich” exhibit, and to organize the Walk Norwich Self guided trails. 

With a Master’s degree in public history from Central Connecticut State University, Miner also serves as part-time associate director at the New London County Historical Society. In 2016, she received the 40 under 40 Award and the Connecticut Governor’s Conference on Tourism Rising Star Award. In 2018, she added the Mimi Findlay Award for Young Preservationists to her list of accomplishments.

Heather A. Parker Excellence in Historical Writing Award

2015 History Learning Community kickoff w/ First Year Programs
2015 HuskyWOW Learning Community Kickoff, History LC. L-R: Matthew Talley ’19, Heather Parker, Christina Deoss ’19, Ted Piekarz ’18, Sarah Velcofsky ’18.

In November 2018, a fund was established by Heather A. Parker, the first staff academic advisor for the History Department, in order to create the Excellence in Historical Writing Award. The award will be presented to an undergraduate History major, from any campus, who has produced an exemplary specimen of historical writing. The recipient will be recognized for a paper that presents a well-researched historical argument with clarity, coherence, and style, and the award will be given at the History Department’s Prize Day celebration at the end of the semester. Inspired by Parker’s donation, the History Department faculty are making a joint contribution.

Alumni and friends will be able to contribute to the Parker Award in Historical Writing fund during UConn Gives, the University’s 36-hour giving initiative, on March 27-28, 2019. Mark your calendars and find out more at: https://givingday.uconn.edu.

Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Rachel Roach ’18

Rachel Roach, a member of the class of 2018 and a proud History major, shares below how African history classes with Professor Fiona Vernal shaped her college experience, research interests, and career path.

 

Rachel Roach

I am a double major in history and Africana Studies. Through my African history courses with Dr. Vernal, I have been able to explore the ways in which certain narratives marginalized the history of some groups when told solely through a European lens and the mainstream curriculum in most American high schools. Interdisciplinary training in History and Africana Studies has taught me to question sources and pushed me to explore how an analysis of race and class, ethnicity and gender can shift the usual lens we use to tell stories about the past. My history courses have also introduced to the public history. I have been able to conduct research in the oral history and photo archives at the Manuscripts and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Archives and participate in a major exhibit on South African history, Children of the Soil: Generations of South Africans under Apartheid. My training in history also afforded me the opportunity to secure an internship at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and to win an IDEA Grant through the Office of Undergraduate Research. With this grant I was able to create a Native American Mascot Database. I also hosted a symposium on the history of Mascots in partnership with Chris Newell Co-founder of Akomawt Educational Initiative, a majority Native owned learning resource/consultancy partnership aimed at social change through education. My majors have inspired me to pursue a career in public history. I hope to go on to obtain my masters in public history.

 

Huskies Forever Alumni Weekend: History Events Fri, Oct 21

Huskies Forever Almuni Weekend 2016 image bannerHistory will again participate in the Huskies Forever Alumni Weekend! We are excited to offer two interesting panel discussions!

“Humans and Animals in History” – faculty panel, featuring

Kenneth Gouwens
Ricardo Salazar-Rey
Nancy Shoemaker

The faculty panel will be followed by refreshments.

Professional Life After History – alumni career panel, featuring

Beth Kilmarx
Jonathan Krezel
Virgilio Lopez
Matthew Necci

This information will be updated as the event date draws closer. For more information about the events across campus that weekend and to register to attend, please visit huskiesforever.uconn.edu

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.”