Successful Spring 2016 History Student Conference

Posted on 2/23/2016 10:24:20 AM

On Feb. 17, 2016, the History Department held an all-day student and alumni conference.

The conference involved 18 student papers (both undergrads and grad students). It opened with a panel on historiography chaired by Elizabeth Ricketts. The panel (pictured below) featured honors thesis proposals by two freshmen, Richard Napotnik and Marisa Murray, and included papers written on historiography in Honors Core by Kimberly Imel and Shannon Stirling.

historiography panel

Papers from students were on incredibly varied topics. From papers on viking death culture and Daoist sexual vampirism on the "Death, Spirits, and the Cosmos" panel to papers focused on local western Pennsylvania history on the Local History panel.

I. Honors Thesis Proposals and Historiography

Chaired by Dr. Elizabeth Ricketts

  • Shannon Stirling, “Tackling the Past: Two Different Approaches to Investigating History”
  • Kimberly Imel, “The True Story: Régine Pernoud and Marie-Véronique Clin's Joan of Arc: Her Story and Annette Gordon-Reed's Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy”
  • Marisa Murray, “The Periclean Building Program: Its Effects on the Community of Athens”
  • Richard Napotnik, “How Teutoburg Changed Rome's Military Expansion Policy in the Beginning of the First Century”

II. Death, Spirits, and the Cosmos

Chaired by Dr. Lynn Botelho

  • Samantha Barna, “Victorian Mourning: Beyond Grief” (pictured below)

Samantha Barna

  • Alexandria Trout, “Viking Death Culture”
  • Cori Woods, “Daoist Sexual Vampirism and Confucian Self-Cultivation: The Ways of Chinese Fox Spirits”
  • Linus Morales, “How to Control the Universe: The Cosmic Family in Liaozhai”

III. Policy and Politics

Chaired by Dr. Werner Lippert

  • Holly Kresge, “Watergate: The Journalistic Investigation into a White House Scandal”
  • Kyle McCollum, “Fear and Domestic Unrest: Impacts on the American Educational System"
  • Andrew Palmer, “The ‘Golden Age’ to the New Age: Changes in Student Life”

IV. Diplomacy, Colonies, and the State

Chaired by Dr. Paul Arpaia

  • Samantha Berk, “The Cheapest Money Ever Spent: Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War” (pictured below)

Samantha Berk

  • Makenzie Ngai, “The Chinese and Portuguese Relation and the Making of Macau”
  • Joseph Craig, “Denmark’s Colonial Empire in Africa and the West Indies”
  • Joseph Yaure, “The Church and the New Deal: How Catholic Social Justice Impacted the Great Depression”

V. Local History

Chaired by Dr. Wayne Bodle

  • Joe Dell, “Life on the Diamond: Race, Class, Memory and Baseball in Western Pennsylvania Coal Fields”
  • Tyler Secosky, “An Oral History of Italians in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania”
  • Melinda Knapp, “‘Mob Law in Indiana County:’ Intimidation of Dissenters in Civil War Pennsylvania”

Students were excited to participate in and attend the history conference. Each panel had between 25 and 40 attendees.

The conference also featured an alumni panel where five IUP history alumni returned to talk about their careers in the field of public history. 

Alumni panel

Pictured above left, from left to right: Megan Sheesley, manager of Development Resources, Westmoreland Museum of American Art; David Harkleroad, interpretive park ranger, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historical Site; Adam Shaffer, park ranger, Flight 93 National Memorial; Lynn Rice, museum experience manager, Frick Art and Historical Center; Hilary Walczak, college archivist, Grove City College

Students flocked to the alumni panel, pictured below, to learn valuable information about skills and strategies for finding history-related jobs. 

Alumni Panel Attendance

The panel was structured as an informal question and answer session directed by Jeanine Mazak-Kahne, one of the History Department faculty who specializes in public history.

Students were also given a chance to ask questions of the alumni, and there was a lively discussion during the panel.

The conference ended with a keynote presentation by Lara Putnam, professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh History Department, titled “A Child’s History of Border Regimes: Families, Migration, and State-Making in the Americas.”

Keynote speaker

The History Department is planning on holding this conference annually in the fall, with next year's scheduled for October 2016.