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News & Events: Colloquia & Events

Spring 2014 History Honors Presentations

A Three-Day Symposium

May 6, May 7, and May 8, 2014

3:30-5:00 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Tuesday, May 6

Madi Goodman, "Struggles with Identity: Russian and Qing Conquest in Central Asia." In the 1600s, the Qing Dynasty rose to power in China and set about subduing Tibet, Mongolia and present-day Xinjiang. A century later, Imperial Russia began expanding its borders into present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. An overarching theme in Russia’s need to expand stemmed from its desire to create an imperialist identity, thereby aligning with Western European identity. Whereas, the Qing already found their identity in Confucian ideology. The need to cultivate this Confucian identity pushed the Qing to oversee care and protection of Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. This thesis will compare and contrast the various reasons behind each empire’s expansion and how they controlled the lands while bringing into account the issues of identity they struggled with. Advisor: Bruce Berglund.

Nathan Slauer, "John Dewey and Republicanism." The concept of republicanism took hold in the U.S. from intellectual conversations among the Founding Fathers during the American Revolution. The Founding Fathers held education as especially significant because of its potential to create informed, virtuous citizens to defend republicanism from corruption. By the late 1800s, though, proponents of republicanism worried that education alone could not defend republicanism from the corrupting influences of immigration and urbanization. In this presentation, I will argue that the educational philosopher John Dewey defended republicanism by promoting significant reforms to the American education system’s purpose, administration, instruction, and classroom management as well as by demonstrating how immigration and urbanization were positive, not corrupting, influences on the American education system. Advisor: Bob Schoone-Jongen.

Wednesday, May 7

Christine Bennett, "Hong Kong Triad Films and the 1997 Handover." Hong Kong changed hands from British colonial rule to the People's Republic of China in the 1997 Handover, which was a defining moment in the development of Hong Kong identity. Through the lens of Hong Kong triad films, this thesis will look at shifts and changes that happened in Hong Kong identity and attitudes towards the Handover, from the time of the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 until the present. Advisor: Bruce Berglund. 

Kristin Fidler, "Reading the Signs of the Times: German-speaking Catholic Theologians Address Secularization in the Post-Vatican II Era." The Second Vatican Council was a pivotal event in the 1960s, marking a shift in the way the Roman Catholic Church viewed the secular world she had so long fought. This study features German-speaking theologians Karl Rahner, Joseph Ratzinger, Franz König, and Johannes B. Metz. Contrary to the Neo-Scholastic attitude that prevailed prior to the Second Vatican Council, these theologians view secularization as a positive development. Secularization, as defined by these theologians, in not a threat to Christianity; rather, it contributes to the constant growth of the Church. Advisor: Bruce Berglund.

Justin Ooms, "Who's 'Right'? Perspectives on the Freedom Party of Austria." In the year 2000, the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria under Jörg Haider entered government in Austria, precipitating a storm in Europe. Since then, the Freedom Party has remained controversial, with some labelling it as right-wing extremist and others seeing it as a legitimate protest party. Drawing on various sources, including Haider’s own 1993 book, Die Freiheit, die ich meine, I will present my own picture of this party and will demonstrate that, to a significant degree, the conclusions one draws with regard to this party will depend significantly on one’s own political commitments and on where one draws the boundaries of legitimate political and public discourse. Advisor: Bruce Berglund.

Thursday, May 8

Spencer Cone, "Compelled to Action: American Involvement in the Smyrna Refugee Crisis of 1922." In September of 1922, American relief workers and Naval officers evacuated over 250,000 Greek refugees from the Turkish city of Smyrna (Izmir) as the Greco-Turkish War drew to a close. The diverging treatment of this crisis within both Turkish and Greek historiography raises questions about the relationship between refugees and history. Each national heritage recalls the events of September 1922 differently, while each ignores the experiences of the refugees for different reasons. This paper retells the destruction of Smyrna through the compilation of the journals of American relief workers and Naval officers present at Smyrna during the crisis. The refugee-centered approach taken by the Americans ensures that the accounts of the refugees are not marginalized. Additionally, the Americans’ willingness to do whatever necessary to save the lives of thousands of refugees offers food for thought in light of current refugee crises across the globe. Advisor: Doug Howard.

Rachel Hekman, "'We Know Not What to Believe': Faith and War in the Confederate Woman's Experience." Despite a preponderance of historical research done on religion and the American Civil War, the vast majority of textual space is dedicated to studying the doings of men. Little effort has been made to synthesize nineteenth-century Protestantism and gender roles into a holistic understanding of the Southern home front, particularly as it pertains to women's roles in Confederate society. This paper will thus explore the religious and social impact of the Civil War on Southern women through the experiences of three contemporary diarists: Sarah Katherine Stone, Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, and Lucy Gilmer Breckinridge.  It will analyze and compare how these three women approached the topics of slavery, secession, military defeats and victories, and personal faith throughout the war years, with a particular view to establishing each diarist's personal faith development. This study adds to the body of research done on Southern white women during the Civil War, but explores in special depth the permutations of the contradictions created by the gender polarization in Southern Christianity as a result of the Civil War. Advisor: Jim Bratt.

Jess McGhee, "Believing without Seeing: How Society in the United States Shaped the Concept of the Influenza Germ during the Pandemic of 1918." Theories of disease reflect the ways we understand the environment surrounding us. This thesis argues that statement and examines the highly virulent influenza epidemic of 1918 through the reactions of American physicians, public officials, scientists, and citizens. At this time, Germ Theory reigned supreme in the form of Pasteur's Postulates, which were the guidelines to isolate and exterminate any antagonistic cell that microscopes could magnify. Influenza, a virus, remained invisible to the technology, and therefore was unable to be postulated using the trusted methods. Scientists quickly searched for answers in laboratories that were permeable to culture, creating new treatments that were bonded together with the prognosis of the world's condition. Thus, my research hopes to reveal not only the way influenza was understood, but the way the epidemic was explained in concepts relevant to those living in the liminal year of 1918. Advisor: Will Katerberg.



Join us on Wednesdays

History lectures are usually on third Wednesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. in the Meeter Center lecture hall, unless noted at left.

The final colloquium of the year is a special presentation by our graduating Honors students, who present the results of their year-long thesis research.

History colloquia are open to the Calvin community—
students, alumni, faculty, and friends—and all are encouraged to attend.

The Meeter Center lecture hall is on the third floor of Hekman Library, off the library lobby.

Come early to enjoy refreshments and conversation and to get a good seat.