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The OU Historical Journal - Issue 3, Spring 2014

Undergraduate Editorial Board
Adriana Collins, Arthur Dixon, Brooke Hamilton, Monique Rodríguez, Morgan McCullough, Austin Scheller

Faculty Advisors
Raphael Folsom, Robert Griswold, Garret Olberding

Introduction

The third annual issue of the OU Historical Journal showcases many of the history department’s finest qualities. Our undergraduate editors, who were selected from a large and competitive pool of nominees, have brought wit, work, and fair-mindedness to the task of selecting these papers. The papers we selected show how many hours our faculty has spent guiding students through the best historiography, and drilling them with the technical aspects of scholarly work. Our students have worked with impressive focus to master the discipline of historical study. As these papers display, OU history majors reproduce in their own work the spirit of intellectual rigor and aesthetic play that animates the finest scholarship.

In each of these papers, we find deep research, sophisticated analysis, and distinguished literary style.*    All break new ground. Whether they find new things to say about familiar figures like Benjamin Franklin, or new data on events surrounding the Kent State killings, each article has a freshness, a novelty, and a sparkle of youthful insight that made the professors who oversaw them proud.

Here is a sample. Arthur Dixon—who, I assure you, is an undergraduate—writes the following on an anonymous chronicle of twelfth century Sicily:

I cannot make any definitive suggestions for the chronicle’s authorship on [the basis of internal evidence] alone, but the argument for normalizing discourse erodes the cases for the two candidates cited by Graham A. Loud: Robert of San Giovanni and Eugenius of Palermo, “son of the Emir John.” The former was a Latin notary who followed Stephen of Perche. His cultural loyalties match up well, but his personal loyalties suggest that he was not caught up in the move toward normalization. The latter was a Greek palace official and intellectual who would hardly have advocated the reconstruction of Sicily on mainland European foundations. Unfortunately, reading the History of the Tyrants as a testament to the normalization of medieval Sicily only offers vague parameters of ethnicity and ideology for the chronicle’s elusive author. This study can clarify who Falcandus was not, but it cannot pinpoint who he was.

In sentence after skillfully balanced sentence, the author displays fine judgment, a fascination with historical detail, and a mature understanding of what we can and cannot know. Like all the papers we publish here, this passage bears eloquent testimony to what makes our discipline great. –Raphael Folsom

Co-Winners of the Griswold Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Historical Scholarship

In “Bad Neighbors: A Look into the Complex Relations within the Creek Nation through the Acorn Whistler Crisis of 1752,” Brooke Hamilton unveils a gripping mid-eighteenth century tale of intrigue and deception, in which an enduring property dispute almost ends in open hostilities between the Creek Indians and the Georgia government. The origins of the plot, hatched by the devious Bosomworth family to take greater control of the eastern trading path from Charleston to Creek country, tap deeply into disagreements between two neighboring tribes, the Cowetas and Cussetas, both striving to be the predominant clan among the Lower Creeks. Masterfully engaging current scholarship, Hamilton narrates how greed and tribal resentments precipitated the vicious sacrifice of an Upper Creek headman, Acorn Whistler. –Garret Olberding

In “Benjamin Franklin and George Adams, Jr.: Enlightenment Entrepreneurs,” Connor Wilson shows us that in the Early Republic, science was used to capture both the public’s imagination and pocketbooks. Making deft use of the writings of two Enlightenment scientists, Wilson shows that his subjects were not simply acting on altruistic motives, but worked to create a scientific literature that could be marketed to mass audiences. Examining an issue that historians have long overlooked, Wilson demonstrates that science in the Enlightenment created a tradition of a profitable and educational inquiry that has had lasting effects on scientific practice. –Morgan McCullough

Runners-Up

“The National and International Responses to the Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,” by Mallory Hogan, analyzes a controversial episode in American history from a global perspective, discussing the reactions of the public and the press to the polemical trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The author considers responses to the trial within the United States and then the international backlash against the couple’s conviction to death, drawing on accusations of American fascism, anti-Semitism, and “war hysteria.” The paper’s mastery of its source material—contemporary journalism from around the world, as well as the revelatory Venona documents—help to make it an important reevaluation of an event that had repercussions far beyond the United States of the Cold War. – Arthur Dixon

“Outrage at Oklahoma: Campus Protests in the Weeks after the Kent State Shootings,” by Dominic Granello, uses deep research in memoirs, campus newspapers, and oral history to paint a nuanced portrait of OU in the tumultuous 1960’s. Granello finds that the university’s demographic makeup and the tactfulness of the university’s leaders helped OU escape the violence that wracked so many of the nation’s universities. Implicit in Granello’s analysis is the idea that lives saved and battles avoided are as important to the shaping of history as tragedy and bloodshed are. It takes a subtle scholar to appreciate the unsung efforts of officials who reached out, opened a calm dialogue, and kept the community’s violent passions at bay. –Raphael Folsom

In “Hugo Falcandus, the History of the Tyrants, and the Normalization of Norman Sicily,” Arthur Dixon tackles a complex period in history with concise analysis and provides unexpected insight. He elucidates the ways in which Norman Sicily, once distinct from other models of medieval European civilization in the twelfth century, was transformed during the reigns of William I “the Bad” and William II “the Good” by increasing presence of Latin Christians from mainland Europe and the influence of the Sicilian elite. The normalization in Sicily is a story of nobles plotting against “abnormal” leaders and orchestrating the creation of a politically, culturally, and socially typical European kingdom. His sophisticated analysis and inventive use of sources that many would cast aside makes this paper exceptional. –Monique Rodríguez

Maggie McKee-Huey’s “The Role and Impact of Jewish Evangelism in Nineteenth Century Great Britain: The London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews,” provides insight to causes of the movement of Christian evangelism amongst the Jewish population in nineteenth century London. Breaking down barriers of prejudice and anti-Semitism, the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews (LSPCJ) radically transformed the negative perception the Anglican Church had of the Jewish people; igniting a burning passion to spread the Gospel to Jews in London. McKee-Huey’s sophisticated analysis of the history of the LSPCJ, and its impact on both the Jewish and Anglican communities, creates a solid foundation for comprehending the Zionist and other later movements to convert Jews in London. –Brooke Hamilton

Honorable Mention

Daniel Glickstein, “American Support of the Iran-Iraq War: A Pyrrhic Victory”

Shorter Works

In this issue, we inaugurate a new section of the journal, featuring shorter works. Since the majority of the papers we have published have been capstone papers, the editors have wanted to extend the journal’s range, and to display papers that represent the range of assignments our students complete. Most history courses at OU require shorter papers, and so we publish two of the best such works we received. 

Nick Eckenrode. “Strangers in their Own Land: How Moorish Occupation Conditioned Spanish Views of the New World.”

Daniel Carney. “Navigating the Revolution.”

Reviews of Books

Monique Rodríguez, “An Ambivalent Revolution, A Review of Capitalism, God, and a Good Cigar.”


* A note on the selection of these papers: Because our student editors are among the best students we have, the faculty advisors of the journal asked them to submit their papers under pseudonyms, such that the editorial board as a whole could consider their work in an unbiased way.  Each of the editors and faculty advisors read all the papers and selected their top six.  A number one ranking received six points, and a number two five points, and so on.  The points were then aggregated.  The criteria we used for the selection are those developed by professor Melissa Stockdale for the history capstone.  They can be found here.