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Professor Michael Weis and Christopher Tatara '14 talk about the history department and opportunities for research and internships.


The History program at Illinois Wesleyan University offers unique research and internship opportunities that create distinct and interesting experiences for students. These experiences often culminate into an Honors Research topic and research. Below is a collection of past Honors Research Projects.

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 March First Movement of 1919 was a widespread independence movement in colonized Korea. This Movement began with the reading of Korea’s Declaration of Independence in a restaurant in Seoul and quickly spread throughout the country, amassing over two million Korean participants who demonstrated in 1500 protests. This significant Movement in Korean history resulted from a culmination of factors, but is often defined by modern historians as an effort against Japan’s oppressive colonization. However, this simplified description of the Movement’s origins understates the complex influences that lead to this Movement. This work then studies how this Movement came to be: specifically, Japan’s influence was never welcomed or accepted by Korea, so a combination of harsh Japanese colonization practices, anti-imperial global ideology after WWI, and the establishment of Protestant missionaries in Korea all contributed to the development and creation of an independence movement that quickly spread throughout the entire country. Each one of these influences helped determine when the Movement occurred, and why it occurred. Because the complexity of this Movement is better understood through a consideration of all its major influences, this work contributes to the contemporary state of scholarly work on Korea by offering a comprehensive but critical history into the Movement’s inspirations.

Throughout his career, American composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993) expounded the potency of music in regard to the medium’s inherent ability to enact critical assessments of society. Zappa’s music exemplified many new possibilities in popular music that have influenced generations of musicians to push the boundaries of the media format. In the context of the Counterculture of the 1960s, Zappa utilized his initial, experimental rock albums, Freak Out! (1966), Absolutely Free (1967), and We’re Only in It for the Money (1968), with his band, The Mothers of Invention, to demonstrate his vision for the United States during the 1960s and beyond. Although Zappa critiqued the country throughout his life, he never deviated far from what he expressed so explicitly within these three albums. Zappa employed his early musical output to lambaste conformist aspects of the United States in the 1950s and the resultant society, culture, politics, and music of the following decade, as well as to propound and to exemplify his individualist ideals in order to combat elements of conformity in the nation. This work focuses on the arguably most important period of Zappa, and expands upon the existing concepts and insufficient analyses of his early music.


This paper explores the fate of Poland during, and immediately after, the Second World War and examines the question of Western betrayal of Poland. This paper looks into why some Poles felt, and continue to feel, a sense of betrayal by their allies during the war. The main focus of this paper is how the Poles came to understand their fate and position in the world during and after World War Two. The thesis of this paper is that Poles define their national narrative in the modern era as glorious victimhood and that this definition of glorious victimhood is how Poles understood their situation during and after World War Two. In pursing this aforementioned thesis, the paper presents sub-narratives of victimhood, martyrdom, and betrayal in the history of Poland from the First Partition of Poland (1772) to the imposition of communist rule following World War Two (1948). The Warsaw Uprising (August-October 1944) provides a case study for the Polish experience of World War Two and the narrative of glorious victimhood. This case study focuses on the degree of Allied support and intervention, along with the failures of the Polish Government-in-Exile and the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising.

Conflicting Perspectives: Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Historiography Chivalry was the dominant social structure of the Middle Ages. Its tenets were limited to the ruling class, but it affected all members of medieval society. Despite its overwhelming prevalence, a definition of chivalry has eluded most historians. Twelfth-century sources range from histories and chronicles of events, to epic poetry based on facts but depicting idealized or demonized characters, to manuals of knightly behavior. Modem perceptions of chivalry are shaped by which sources historians choose to include in their analyses; modem historians get most of their arguments from medieval literature and texts that are dedicated specifically to chivalry. While these sources are beneficial and offer their own details about medieval chivalry, a vital source is unfortunately left out of scholarly discussion. A comparative analysis of twelfth-century histories offers a more thorough understanding of the conflicting elements and ideas that made up medieval chivalry; they also show how, while ubiquitous, not everyone practiced or interpreted chivalry in the same way. Twelfth-century histories do this very well, but are often ignored by modem historians in favor of more glamorous sources.

General Douglas MacArthur continually disobeyed his superiors officers throughout his entire career, yet he never received any punishment. He eventually became one of the most decorated U.S. soldiers and rose to the rank of General by the time his career was over. However, as his career progressed, his defiance increased. It was not until President Harry S. Truman relieved him of command during the Korean War that MacArthur received any kind of reprimand. Because of this, MacArthur threatened not only U.S. security and democracy, but also world peace.

In the twentieth century, two designers stood out as radicals: Josef Hoffmann of Vienna and Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow. Both of these designers rejected the design aesthetics of the Revival and Beaux Arts styles of architecture and decorative arts, which they found to be outdated and moribund. Due to their mutual hatred of this repetitive historicism in art, Hoffmann and Mackintosh explored new ways of creating decorative arts and architecture. Both men visited and corresponded with each other, creating not only a professional friendship but also a shared language of design aesthetics. Mackintosh and Hoffmann drew on each other's designs and philosophies, establishing an exchange of ideas and new design ideals between the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement and the Wiener Werkstiitte.

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.

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.

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.

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?


April Schultz - Chair and Professor of History

Department - History