Student Honors Papers

The Student Honors Papers collection represents exemplary work in history at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Ames Library is proud to archive these and other honors projects in Digital Commons @ IWU, the University's online archive of student, faculty and staff scholarship and creative activity.

The Bone of Contention: Mule Bone and the Friendship of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston during the Harlem Renaissance
by Julie A. Mangoff

This paper explores the friendship between two great literary minds of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Their close friendship helped to support their artistic lives and was responsible for several collaborations. The last project they worked on was the play Mule Bone. In January of 1931, the play became the wedge that divided the two. This paper will give background information on the lives of both authors and utilize the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance in order to explain how the themes of gender, power, and race helped to cause this break.

The Problematic Search for an Emerging American Identity before the Revolution: An Analysis of Colonial Newspapers and Secondary Literature
by Emma Florio

This paper discusses the difficulties of finding a single, common "American" sociocultural identity in the colonies before the Revolution. By looking at the use of words like "Americans" or "British subjects" to describe the colonists in colonial newspapers, I determine that neither colonial nor British writers had a cohesive idea of the American colonists as a single, distinct group with a unique identity.

Wei Yuan and the Chinese Totalistic Iconoclasm: The Demise of Confucianism in Matter and in Form
by Chao Ren

This paper attempts to explore the historical origins of the “totalistic iconoclasm” that was characteristic of Chinese intellectual history in the twentieth century. By examining Wei Yuan’s historical writings, the paper argues that the conceptual connection between the civilization of the majority Han ethnicity (“the Chinese tradition”) and the idea of a political entity of China had already broken down by mid-nineteenth century. The Qing Empire’s political adoption and control of Confucianism suffocated its intellectual creativity and thus Confucianism only existed as custom and in form. As an intellectual reaction to these political manipulations, the essentialist thoughts of the late Ming gradually gave way to the pragmatist thoughts of late Qing. This separation of cultural and political entities in the minds of the Chinese intellectual elite as a response to the Qing Empire’s manipulation of Confucianism set up the condition for the total cultural iconoclasm in twentieth century China.

The Pursuit of a Dream: Monility in the Laboring Class of Early Twentieth-Century Bloomington
by A.G. Webber

Searching for the underlying reality in the "land of opportunity," especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has become one of the most significant and rapidly developing areas of American historical research. The myth of America as a place where the ambitious man was free to make his fortune through hard work and enterprise has been enduring, albeit little subject to scrutiny . The possibility of social and economic advancement for all men is central to a society styling itself as liberal, democratic, and capitalistic. In the early years of the twentieth century, this possibility was firmly held in the popular imagination. America is a nation of immigrants , drawn by the possibility of a better life. Free men laboring in a free economy, released from the class discriminations of the Old World , made the "land of opportunity" what it was. The popular evangelists of ready wealth, from Horatio Alger to Samuel Smiles preached this social gospel; the lives of the Carnegies and Rockefellers bore its witness. But aside from the great men , what could ordinary laborers expect as
their reward?

Lincoln's Boys: The Enlisted Men of the Illinois Infantry in the Civil War
by Peter R. Wells

" Co. B are all Old Abes Boys, "wrote Frank Crowell about the 1864 election. Frank and his comrades were also Lincoln's boys in another sense.They were the soldiers who enforced Lincoln' s authority. This is a study of the enlisted men who served in the Illinois infantry regiments during the Civil War. The boys were the ones who faced the Confederates on the field of battle. Without them, all the speeches Lincoln ever made would be meaningless. This study attempts to explain how the boys lived and ate,marched and fought, and died. It also looks at their opinions on the important subjects of the issues involved in the war, their leaders, their enemies and themselves. This is not a study of nameless masses, though. The boys I use as sources have names and personalities. They were all boys, too, regardless of age. Day Elmore told his brother and sister about an informal association of soldiers, called a "mess," to which he belonged . " [T]here is 10 of the best boys in our mess I Ever got in with, thay are not all boys. [T]hare is one 40 years of age • • • and Another 35.

Consequently, I refer to the enlisted men as "the boys" throughout the paper.

Church Trials in a Changing Society
by Robert H. Williams

The study of all aspects of the American frontier still continues, with new and sometimes divergent materials appearing year after year. Religion and morality have received a share of this interest. Dr. William Warren Sweet was a substantial contributor to this literature, particularly with his collections of source materials, under the general heading of Religion on the American Frontier.

The Back of the House As Viewed from the Front of the House: Sarah Davis and the Irish Domestic Servants of Clover Lawn from 1872 to 1879
by Gina C. Tangorra

This paper details the experience of Irish servants and servants of Irish-descent in late nineteenth-century Bloomington who were employed in the middle-class house on Clover Lawn (the David Davis Mansion). The house on Clover Lawn was divided into three regions: public, private, and the servant quarters. The back of the house was reserved for the servants’ living and working areas. The division between front-of-the-house, back-of-the-house is the American equivalent of the British “upstairs-downstairs” arrangement. The body of letters written between Sarah Davis and her family are a wealth of information on their servants, including their personalities, their duties, and her interactions with them. This paper examines the connection between the design of the home and the established middle-class domestic system, the cultural and social differences between the servants and the Davis family, and the impact the Irish domestic servant population had on the growing Bloomington community, in order to gain a better overall understanding of the solidification of the middle-class.

Basic Issues of the Illinois Territory (1809-1818)
by Jack F. Kinton '61

This paper was written to provide insight as to how and why our state grew as it did. Each area's history helps explain why certain thing are the way they are today in the area. However, just as important are the influences of one area on other areas.

From Pioneer Preaching Point to Urban Parishes
by Stephen Foster '63

It has been my aim in tracing the development of Methodist Churches of Decatur, Illinois, to place their development in the framework of national and local growth in order to give the best possible picture of the development of a pioneer preaching point on a frontier Methodist Circuit to full blown urban parishes of the 1920's.

The Soul of a Church
by David Cavallini

A great deal of careful recitation and contemplation went in to the selection of this title. It is not just the Christian Lutheran Church that I am talking about but a church -- any church on any street in any town, in any state.