L to R: Anna Nicodemus, Mallory Durr, Courtney Vris
On Tuesday, April 20, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library hosted the inaugural Senior Showcase, an event honoring exemplary research completed by Wake Forest College undergraduates. Students shared their thesis research in a three-part lecture in the Allen Mandelbaum Reading Room. The 2010 honorees were:
- Anna Nicodemus (History, Division I), nominated by Reynolds Professor Paul Escott;
- Courtney Vris (French Studies, Division II), nominated by Associate Professor Kendall Tarte; and,
- Mallory Durr (Political Science, Division IV), nominated by Professor Helga Welsh.
Anna Nicodemus’ thesis, “Prudential Unionism: Southern Sentiment, Unionist Reasoning, and Maryland’s Allegiance in Early 1861,” examined the support given to the Union across Anna’s home state of Maryland at the outbreak of the Civil War. As Anna noted, Maryland’s unique position — south of the Mason-Dixon Line, yet north of Washington, D.C. — made the state geographically vital to the Union, but many citizens identified with the South. Interestingly, Southern sentiment is still enshrined in Maryland’s state song, which was written in April 1861 and adopted in 1939, but recently challenged. The song concludes: “She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb- / Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!”
Courtney Vris’ thesis, “Renée Saccard et Paris, ville complice, dans La Curée d’Émile Zola” (Renée Saccard and Paris, Urban Accomplice, in Émile Zola’s La Curée), examined the role of the city of Paris in the character development of Renée Saccard, the central character in Zola’s novel. Focusing on four Parisian places — the Bois de Boulogne, the Hôtel Saccard, the Hôtel Béraud and the Café Riche — Courtney demonstrated how each location acted as an influence upon and reflection of Renée’s behavior and emotions. As later discussed during the question and answer session, Paris could be interpreted as a fourth main character in the novel.
Mallory Durr’s thesis, “Divided Societies: Power Sharing in Multilingual Democracies,” investigated four countries with differing multilingual traditions and codified linguistic policies, and how those policies impact democracy. Her research examined the role of official linguistic policies in addressing conflict and upholding democracy in Switzerland, Belgium, India and South Africa. Mallory found that no single overt, official linguistic policy best supports democracy through the engagement and protection of linguistic minorities. Instead unofficial, voluntary cultural policies must rise within the political realm to guarantee greater equality and protection.
Wake Forest senior Jermyn Davis first proposed the Senior Showcase because he felt that the level of scholarship attained by his classmates for their senior theses merited recognition. As originally envisioned, the Showcase would afford two or three select WFU seniors the opportunity to present their research before the Wake Forest community. As the Showcase evolved, the possible field expanded to five seniors: one honoree per division of the College. Even though only three divisions were represented in the nominations received this first year, the review panel of library faculty decided to respect the one-per-division structure in their selection of the 2010 presenters.
For the initial Showcase, only theses completed during the fall 2009 semester were eligible. Although this decision would restrict submissions from some departments, the review panel believed that a smaller pilot group would allow for easier assessment the first time. After receiving feedback from faculty advisers of ineligible students, plans for the 2011 Senior Showcase include adjusting the eligibility deadline to achieve representation from all five divisions of the College.