History Majors Make History Posted on February 6th, 2010 by

People make history through their words and behaviors.  Historians “make” it by developing written interpretations of the past based on their research in primary sources.  Several Gustavus history majors are making histories of their own this academic year through independent studies and honors theses on a variety of fascinating topics:

Independent Studies: Evan Curtin has completed a comparative investigation of agrarian movements in Morelos, Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution, and the U.S. Midwest (Iowa and Minnesota), during the Great Depression (directed by Prof. Rao); Laura Walker has completed a study of colonial Latin American working women in the Andes (directed by Prof. Rao); and Xi He is examining how various countries (China, Japan, Taiwan, and the US) depict World War II in Asia and the Pacific in high school history textbooks (directed by Prof. Obermiller).

History Honors Research: Angela Larson is completing a thesis titled “The Manifestation of Confucian Thought in Chinese Women’s Literature as Insight into the Stability of Imperial China” (directed by Prof. Obermiller); Aaron Hiltner is focusing on masculinity, race, and class among American soldiers in Vietnam (directed by Prof. Byrne); and Amy Jahnke is working on the emergence of the nationalist noiriste movement in Haiti during the American occupation from 1915 to 1934 (directed by Profs. Rao and Kaster).

As history majors well know, historical research and writing are not only essential to expanding and refining our knowledge of the past, they are also invaluable in preparing one for the analytical and communication demands of the nonprofit, public, and private sectors.  Moreover, the History Department’s varied opportunities for research allow students to experience firsthand the challenging, absorbing, and exhilarating work of making history as historians.

Watch for an announcement about the History Honors presentations in the spring!


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