Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • ENVISIONED COMMUNITIES: AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE AND THE MOVING PICTURES, 1896-1927

    Author:
    Cara Caddoo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Stuart Ewen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the role of cinema in the modern black experience and the generative role that African Americans played in the creation of American modernity. Two questions animate this study. First, how did African Americans consolidate their institutions and social bonds amid the distending forces of turn-of-the-century migration? Second, how and why did cinema--as a location, medium, and set of practices--become so important to the collective articulation of black identity in the early twentieth century? By mapping the patterns of turn-of-the-century migration with the development of black cinema practices from 1896 to 1927, this project traces black economic, social, and cultural practices across space and time. It begins in the post-Reconstruction period, when African Americans looked inward to fortifying the institutions that stood at the center of black life. Yet at the same time, hundreds of thousands of black migrants were departing the countryside for the urban South and West. At this curious juncture when black life was both turning inward and expanding outward, African Americans used film as a tool for collective racial progress. Black churches, halls, and schools hosted moving picture exhibitions, which brought the race together and raised money for the construction of buildings that conspicuously demonstrated black material progress. Eventually black film exhibition moved into colored theaters, which became celebrated monuments of black life and public claims to urban space in the Jim Crow city. During this time, African Americans associated race and cinema primarily with tangible, physical locations. Yet when colored theaters started to compete with black religious institutions, middle class blacks were forced to reconsider the ideas of racial uplift, which championed both piety and black-owned businesses. After 1910, a series of events--including Jack Johnson's victory as heavyweight champion of the world--further shifted the focus from the exhibition site to the screen. Black conceptions of freedom and natural rights based on new sensibilities of racial representation informed the first mass protest movement of African Americans in the twentieth century as well as transnational formations of racial identity articulated by the race film industry.

  • 'Roman' Nation: racializing Italians (1903-1912)

    Author:
    Italia Colabianchi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Marta Petrusewicz
    Abstract:

    `ROMAN' NATION: RACIALIZING ITALIANS (1903-1912) The existing literature on Italian racism has failed to analyze the thought of the right-wing intellectuals who gave life to the nationalist movement in the early 20th century. Current research provides only a fragmentary and episodic narration of the nationalist racial thought, and fails to insert its contradictions and complexities into the development of the nationalist ideology. The reluctance to apply a discursive methodology has been the primary cause of the failure of the existing historiography to recognize the nationalist racial discourse. This dissertation intends to fill that void by analyzing the writings of Enrico Corradini, Mario Morasso, Giuseppe Prezzolini, Giovanni Papini and other prominent nationalists. In this study, I argue that there is an important racial component in the early 20th century nationalist thought, and that this component emerges through the analysis of racial language, tropes, stereotypes, and metaphors. My thesis is that the nationalist imperialistic agenda determined their racial discourse. The nationalists considered the possession of a colonial empire as a necessary and unmistakable mark of the superiority of a nation on an international scale. The goal of establishing an Italian Empire was justified discursively with racial imagery and recurrent themes, above all that of "romanita'". In the nationalist imperialistic narrative, the Italians possessed certain qualities that were quintessential to the Italian race, and these qualities both enabled and entitled them to conquer and maintain a colonial empire. The discursive construction of the Italian race had to take into account the array of racial theories and beliefs that argued the inferiority of the Italian vis-à-vis the Nordic race. Against the theories that postulated the superiority of the Nordic man, the Italian nationalists tapped into an imagined Roman past, not so much negating the existing stereotypes but reinventing existing narratives. The colonial war absolved, in the nationalist narrative, the crucial function of being a catalyst for a surge in patriotism and racial pride, which would awaken the dormant racial qualities of the Italian population and clarify who was a member of the national community and who was excluded.

  • Keeping Fear at Bay: Twentieth Century Ecuador and the Eradication of Plague

    Author:
    Edward Cornejo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Alfonso Quiroz
    Abstract:

    Until plague's reappearance in China in the latter nineteenth century, plague had often been thought of as belonging to a distant continent and even more distant time in history. Turn-of-the-century maritime and technological advances, however, exponentially increased the fear, the panic, and the power that plague had over people throughout the globe. Ecuador fell victim to this scourge in 1903 and had to find ways to confront a disease with which it had minimal experience. Ecuador's anti-plague efforts, led by men such as Dr. Carlos A. Miño, were important steps in the confrontation of the disease. The campaign to fight plague took the form of four phases that ultimately helped Ecuadorian public health experts bring plague cases under control and eradicate the disease. This was not done, however, without assistance. On the one hand, the general Ecuadorian population seemed willing enough to follow the recommendations set by Miño and his staff: disinfection, fumigation, whitewashing, and other new scientifically hygienic measures. On the other hand, foreign experts from the United States were also instrumental in the eradication of the disease. By 1930, Ecuador had succeeded in eradicating the disease as a result of several intersecting factors. First among these was the constant vigilance of a public health apparatus that focused on information gathering and familiarity with the zones most affected. Second was the implementation of public health measures that focused on cleanliness, disinfection, and elimination of the rodent vector. Finally, it was the epidemiological and entomological expertise of Americans Dr. John D. Long and Dr. Clifford R. Eskey who dedicated themselves to the epidemiological studies of plague in Ecuador that helped seal the fate of the disease. Thus, the ambitious public health policies of Dr. Miño and his colleagues, combined with an infusion of new technology and expertise and the disinfecting of homes and public spaces, led to the nearly complete eradication of plague from the country in the 1930s. In the end, Ecuador's campaign against plague was married to Ecuador's modernizing drive of the late nineteenth century. In other words, modernization led to the eradication of plague in Ecuador and the disease's eradication was, in turn, a way by which to modernize the peripheral sectors. The evidence s questions the notion that modernization and modernity had always negative impacts on autochthonous communities. The case of Ecuador's highland areas illustrates that despite some unintended consequences there exist exceptions critical of modernization and that peripheral communities or peoples did indeed benefit from and, more importantly, took advantage of the scientific hygiene that was a product of turn-of-the-century epidemiological and microbiological knowledge.

  • Keeping Fear at Bay: Twentieth Century Ecuador and the Eradication of Plague

    Author:
    Edward Cornejo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Alfonso Quiroz
    Abstract:

    Until plague's reappearance in China in the latter nineteenth century, plague had often been thought of as belonging to a distant continent and even more distant time in history. Turn-of-the-century maritime and technological advances, however, exponentially increased the fear, the panic, and the power that plague had over people throughout the globe. Ecuador fell victim to this scourge in 1903 and had to find ways to confront a disease with which it had minimal experience. Ecuador's anti-plague efforts, led by men such as Dr. Carlos A. Miño, were important steps in the confrontation of the disease. The campaign to fight plague took the form of four phases that ultimately helped Ecuadorian public health experts bring plague cases under control and eradicate the disease. This was not done, however, without assistance. On the one hand, the general Ecuadorian population seemed willing enough to follow the recommendations set by Miño and his staff: disinfection, fumigation, whitewashing, and other new scientifically hygienic measures. On the other hand, foreign experts from the United States were also instrumental in the eradication of the disease. By 1930, Ecuador had succeeded in eradicating the disease as a result of several intersecting factors. First among these was the constant vigilance of a public health apparatus that focused on information gathering and familiarity with the zones most affected. Second was the implementation of public health measures that focused on cleanliness, disinfection, and elimination of the rodent vector. Finally, it was the epidemiological and entomological expertise of Americans Dr. John D. Long and Dr. Clifford R. Eskey who dedicated themselves to the epidemiological studies of plague in Ecuador that helped seal the fate of the disease. Thus, the ambitious public health policies of Dr. Miño and his colleagues, combined with an infusion of new technology and expertise and the disinfecting of homes and public spaces, led to the nearly complete eradication of plague from the country in the 1930s. In the end, Ecuador's campaign against plague was married to Ecuador's modernizing drive of the late nineteenth century. In other words, modernization led to the eradication of plague in Ecuador and the disease's eradication was, in turn, a way by which to modernize the peripheral sectors. The evidence s questions the notion that modernization and modernity had always negative impacts on autochthonous communities. The case of Ecuador's highland areas illustrates that despite some unintended consequences there exist exceptions critical of modernization and that peripheral communities or peoples did indeed benefit from and, more importantly, took advantage of the scientific hygiene that was a product of turn-of-the-century epidemiological and microbiological knowledge.

  • America's Socrates: Sidney Hook and American Higher Education

    Author:
    Matthew Cotter
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Martin Burke
    Abstract:

    There was little that was uncontroversial about Sidney Hook (1902-1989), one of the foremost intellectuals, let alone philosophers, in America. He has long been regarded in contemporary intellectual circles and recent scholarship for his explication and philosophical analysis of German Idealism as a means toward understanding the roots of Communism, his superb expositions of John Dewey's pragmatism, his secular humanism, or for his almost militant anticommunism. This dissertation, however, examines a different dimension of his thought, namely the reception of his pragmatism as an educational philosophy. Ignored by most historians of American intellectual life, it was a comprehensive and systematic approach bent on clarifying and subsequently ameliorating the widespread cultural changes wrought by the Great Depression. From his post as chairperson at New York University's Washington Square College, he was among the first to eagerly and constructively press the range and import of Dewey's ideas to face the urgent educational problems facing higher education. When not engaged in matters related to the rise of European fascism or the famous Show Trials in the Soviet Union, Hook spent the bulk of his career introducing an entire generation of educators, administrators, and laymen to pragmatism's possibilities as a viable social philosophy. In so doing he initiated a lifelong debate with representatives of the St. John's Program over the nature, scope, content, and future of higher education. In so doing he recast the character of American Pragmatism.

  • Skin and Redemption: Theology in Silent Films, 1902 to 1927

    Author:
    Susan Craig
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Martin Burke
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes theological concepts in silent moving pictures made for commercial distribution from 1902 to 1927, and examines how directors and scenarists sorted through competing belief systems to select what they anticipated would be palatable theological references for their films. A fundamental assumption of this study is that, the artistic and aesthetic pretensions of many silent-era filmmakers notwithstanding, directors generally made decisions in the conception, production and marketing of films primarily to maximize profits in a ruthlessly competitive environment. As such, directors needed to walk a fine line between alienating the lucrative working class and immigrant audiences that were so important to the profitability of the early film industry, while still broadening the appeal of film to a middle-class clientele. As a mechanism for ordering society and guiding individual human conduct, the Christian churches in America by 1900 presented believers with a variety of different, even competing, theologies. While the American-Irish Catholic establishment struggled to maintain its authority in the face of Southern European immigration after 1880, American Protestants argued points of doctrine in divinity schools, from pulpits and in the popular press. From this Protestant debate--about questions such as divine transcendence and immanence, Biblical inerrancy, and the soteriological meaning of Jesus' life and death--emerged two broad strains of belief, which were nearly antithetical. Evangelical Protestants, claimants to Calvinist orthodoxy, sought a traditional salvation experience: conviction of sin and redemption, generally experienced in a revival setting. The emerging modernist wing of Protestantism, on the other hand, shifted its emphasis from ecstatic conversion to the so-called Social Gospel, by which adherents sought to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. It is my contention that incorporating religious references to the modernist theology adopted by some mainline denominations after the turn of the twentieth century allowed filmmakers to appeal to Progressive-minded Americas while still highlighting universal moral themes that would be acceptable across a broad range of audiences. The symbiosis between the desire of the mainline churches to promulgate a modernist theology and the power of mass media, along with the broad lay familiarity with theological notions, combined to create both a recognizable theological vernacular that directors could tap for scenario ideas, as well as a cultural milieu in which employing sacred themes dramatically and for profit would be not only acceptable, but even appealing to audiences of diverse Christian beliefs. This dissertation examines the result of those choices in a variety of film genres: in historicized Bible stories and humanist portrayals of Jesus from 1902 to 1927; in melodramas that use the Social Gospel theologies of the Kingdom of God and the brotherhood of man as a framework for social problem films during the period from 1908 to 1921; in explorations of Christology (themes of atonement and redemption) in feature films from 1915 to 1922; and in recasting familiar notions of sin in comedies and dramas from 1914 to 1928.

  • Skin and Redemption: Theology in Silent Films, 1902 to 1927

    Author:
    Susan Craig
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Martin Burke
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes theological concepts in silent moving pictures made for commercial distribution from 1902 to 1927, and examines how directors and scenarists sorted through competing belief systems to select what they anticipated would be palatable theological references for their films. A fundamental assumption of this study is that, the artistic and aesthetic pretensions of many silent-era filmmakers notwithstanding, directors generally made decisions in the conception, production and marketing of films primarily to maximize profits in a ruthlessly competitive environment. As such, directors needed to walk a fine line between alienating the lucrative working class and immigrant audiences that were so important to the profitability of the early film industry, while still broadening the appeal of film to a middle-class clientele. As a mechanism for ordering society and guiding individual human conduct, the Christian churches in America by 1900 presented believers with a variety of different, even competing, theologies. While the American-Irish Catholic establishment struggled to maintain its authority in the face of Southern European immigration after 1880, American Protestants argued points of doctrine in divinity schools, from pulpits and in the popular press. From this Protestant debate--about questions such as divine transcendence and immanence, Biblical inerrancy, and the soteriological meaning of Jesus' life and death--emerged two broad strains of belief, which were nearly antithetical. Evangelical Protestants, claimants to Calvinist orthodoxy, sought a traditional salvation experience: conviction of sin and redemption, generally experienced in a revival setting. The emerging modernist wing of Protestantism, on the other hand, shifted its emphasis from ecstatic conversion to the so-called Social Gospel, by which adherents sought to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. It is my contention that incorporating religious references to the modernist theology adopted by some mainline denominations after the turn of the twentieth century allowed filmmakers to appeal to Progressive-minded Americas while still highlighting universal moral themes that would be acceptable across a broad range of audiences. The symbiosis between the desire of the mainline churches to promulgate a modernist theology and the power of mass media, along with the broad lay familiarity with theological notions, combined to create both a recognizable theological vernacular that directors could tap for scenario ideas, as well as a cultural milieu in which employing sacred themes dramatically and for profit would be not only acceptable, but even appealing to audiences of diverse Christian beliefs. This dissertation examines the result of those choices in a variety of film genres: in historicized Bible stories and humanist portrayals of Jesus from 1902 to 1927; in melodramas that use the Social Gospel theologies of the Kingdom of God and the brotherhood of man as a framework for social problem films during the period from 1908 to 1921; in explorations of Christology (themes of atonement and redemption) in feature films from 1915 to 1922; and in recasting familiar notions of sin in comedies and dramas from 1914 to 1928.

  • Transcendent Reform: Quaker Women and Social Reform During the Hicksite Schism

    Author:
    Jody Cross-Hansen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Barbara Welter
    Abstract:

    Abstract TRANSCENDENT REFORM: QUAKER WOMEN AND SOCIAL REFORM DURING THE HICKSITE SCHISM by Jody Cross-Hansen Adviser: Professor Barbara Welter This thesis explores the role of Quaker women in social reform during the period from 1790-1920, particularly among the leading female reformers of the Northeast, focusing especially on the reforms of abolition, women's rights and peace witness. Nancy Hewitt's question is addressed; did the Hicksite schism lead to liberal reform among women? That is, were there positive repercussions from the Hicksite schism for women in the sense that the Hicksite schism became the platform for the women's movement, or that Hicksite Quaker women were far more involved in liberal social reforms than their Orthodox Quaker counterparts? The study concludes that Hicksite and Orthodox Quaker women were equally involved in liberal social reform and activism, but that they differed primarily in the expression of their theological beliefs and hermeneutics. Certain radical theological beliefs of the Hicksites may have caused some historians to make assumptions that the Hicksites were more "liberal" in every way than the Orthodox, but in the core Quaker values which unite them in reform--their belief in peace, human equality and social justice, they were actually similar. As for the creation of the woman's rights movement, the study charts two theories of the creation of the women's movement--One that begins in Seneca Falls with the Women's Rights Convention of 1848 which involves predominantly Hicksite Quakers, and the second which sees the creation of the American women's rights movement evolving from the work of female abolitionists. This second theory focuses largely on Orthodox Quaker women. The study also describes how the creation of the American Friends Service Committee in the early 20th century, as a merger of Hicksites and Orthodox Quakers concerned with peace and international humanitarian reform, served as an early healing of the Hicksite schism and symbolized the core Quaker values that characterized the denomination and united the reformers in their activities throughout the centuries. (The Quaker denomination split in 1828 into two divisions, Hicksite and Orthodox, and did not officially reunite until 1955. Nancy Hewitt is one of the only historians who suggests there might have been one positive outcome to the schism: women's reform. )

  • Transcendent Reform: Quaker Women and Social Reform During the Hicksite Schism

    Author:
    Jody Cross-Hansen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Barbara Welter
    Abstract:

    Abstract TRANSCENDENT REFORM: QUAKER WOMEN AND SOCIAL REFORM DURING THE HICKSITE SCHISM by Jody Cross-Hansen Adviser: Professor Barbara Welter This thesis explores the role of Quaker women in social reform during the period from 1790-1920, particularly among the leading female reformers of the Northeast, focusing especially on the reforms of abolition, women's rights and peace witness. Nancy Hewitt's question is addressed; did the Hicksite schism lead to liberal reform among women? That is, were there positive repercussions from the Hicksite schism for women in the sense that the Hicksite schism became the platform for the women's movement, or that Hicksite Quaker women were far more involved in liberal social reforms than their Orthodox Quaker counterparts? The study concludes that Hicksite and Orthodox Quaker women were equally involved in liberal social reform and activism, but that they differed primarily in the expression of their theological beliefs and hermeneutics. Certain radical theological beliefs of the Hicksites may have caused some historians to make assumptions that the Hicksites were more "liberal" in every way than the Orthodox, but in the core Quaker values which unite them in reform--their belief in peace, human equality and social justice, they were actually similar. As for the creation of the woman's rights movement, the study charts two theories of the creation of the women's movement--One that begins in Seneca Falls with the Women's Rights Convention of 1848 which involves predominantly Hicksite Quakers, and the second which sees the creation of the American women's rights movement evolving from the work of female abolitionists. This second theory focuses largely on Orthodox Quaker women. The study also describes how the creation of the American Friends Service Committee in the early 20th century, as a merger of Hicksites and Orthodox Quakers concerned with peace and international humanitarian reform, served as an early healing of the Hicksite schism and symbolized the core Quaker values that characterized the denomination and united the reformers in their activities throughout the centuries. (The Quaker denomination split in 1828 into two divisions, Hicksite and Orthodox, and did not officially reunite until 1955. Nancy Hewitt is one of the only historians who suggests there might have been one positive outcome to the schism: women's reform. )

  • THE DISSOLUTION OF A REPUBLICAN: DANIEL WALDO LINCOLN, 1784-1815

    Author:
    Rebecca Dresser
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Andrew Robertson
    Abstract:

    Recent scholarship on the first generation of Americans born after the Revolution has focused on the entrepreneurial spirit and individualism of young people eager to create a nation of equal opportunity. The rise and spread of a democratic polity couched within an expanding liberal economy shaped new definitions of self and position. For Daniel W. Lincoln the second son of Levi Lincoln, the prominent Democratic-Republican of Massachusetts, the new cultural and political landscape brought contradictory and unsettling consequences. As an inheritor of the Revolution and a Republican, he outwardly espoused his father's principles and championed a country of equal laws, equal rights, and equal opportunity for every man. Socially, however, he was conservative, a closet cultural Federalist, who preferred deference, philosophy and poetry to politics and partisanship. For an elite Republican in Massachusetts such as Daniel Lincoln, there were few likeminded souls who shared his sensibilities. The tension between the equality intrinsic to Jeffersonian ideology and the elitism Daniel naturally gravitated toward left him a lonely melancholic and progressively more out of step with his peers. He increasingly turned to alcohol for relief with disastrous consequences. Throughout his life Daniel tried his best to exemplify those values which he claimed to revere, but his inability to control his drinking abrogated these standards, embarrassed and disappointed his father, and alienated him from the respect and affection of his peers. He died of alcohol-related illness when he was only thirty-one. Daniel Lincoln's story is more than a case study of nineteenth century failure. He succeeded professionally as a lawyer and Republican orator. He had a thriving law practice in Boston as well as in Portland, Maine. Based on over 250 letters Daniel wrote to his family and friends, this dissertation provides an unusually intimate look at the effect of changing nineteenth century definitions of deference, class, gender and politics. Daniel Lincoln's letters chronicle a new perspective of a nation in transition and add to the richness and complexity of the historical synthesis of the early American republic.