Issue 5, Spring 2016

Editorial Board
Jon Otto, Kiersten Strachan, Rita Thompson, Elizabeth Hurd, Emily Cole, Robert Smith, Sarah Miles, Sarah Capps, Adriana Collins, Arthur Dixon, Monique Rodríguez, Richard Romines, Franklin Otis, Matthew Clark

Faculty Advisors
Raphael Folsom, Garret Olberding, Robert Griswold

Issue Five of the OU Historical Journal shares much with previous issues: excellence, variety, precision, imagination and many other marks of scholarly rigor.   OU students continue to be fascinated by the traumas and transformations of World War II and the political evolution of our state and university.  Both of these topics are well-represented in the works our editors have selected for publication.  OUHJ Number Five extends our students’ reach into new realms: the era of independence in the Atlantic World, British intellectual history, and the development of Stalinist public architecture in the Cold War.

As always, the process of selecting the papers from a large and extremely distinguished field was difficult, rigorous, and scrupulously fair.   While these are by no means the only outstanding papers our students have written over the past year, they are all superb, and reflect the careful and creative work of  students and professors alike.  –The Editors

Winners of the Griswold Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Historical Scholarship

Arthur Dixon.  “The Liberal Libertine, Gender and Revolution in the Writings of Francisco de Miranda.”  Francisco de Miranda's life embodied the contradiction which was central to the Age of Democratic Revolution: to what extent could the liberal ideologies emerging from the Enlightenment replace the old order? Just as other pre-Revolution social and cultural systems like slavery and monarchy survived democratic revolution, patterns of gender relations endured radical political insurrection and emerged relatively unscathed. This paradox is exemplified in Miranda’s simultaneous subversive political acts and conformity with existing libertine forms of masculinity. (Written for Dr. Jennifer Davis-Cline) – Elizabeth Hurd

Sarah Capps, “Continuity in Care: the History of Deinstitutionalization in Oklahoma’s Mental Healthcare System.”  Sarah Capps has approached the subject of the deinstitutionalization of Oklahoma’s mental health system with great attention to detail and tenacious research. She has also made connections from the act of deinstitutionalization to its effect on the way Oklahoma’s mentally ill are served today. As society’s most vulnerable population left institutions, they faced many unique challenges. However, the shift in the way people began to deal with the mentally ill was both a reaction to new attitudes and helped shaped them as this population left institutions and was integrated into society. Sarah Capps, through an examination of a diverse array of primary sources, has succeeded in demonstrating the complexity of the endeavor with superb writing and research. (Written for Dr. Warren Metcalf)  - Rita Thompson


Michaela Hill, “Underground Cathedrals, Moscow’s Struggle for a Subterranean Masterpiece.”  The Moscow Metrostroi Project began as a much-hated proposal by Soviet government officials to alleviate congestion in the 1920s. But in a fascinating process described by Hill, this proposal evolved into the construction of a metro line that symbolized the possibility of a socialist utopia for Muscovites. She argues that the USSR’s first metro line was significant as a state-initiated project in which workers collectively overcame the obstacles of creating a socialist society. Workers equated building the metro with building socialism, and the metro’s 1935 completion seemed to herald the beginning of a decidedly urban socialist society. (Written for Dr. Melissa Stockdale) –Monique Rodríguez.

Sarah Miles, “ Southern Ladies Rebellion: The Failure of Women’s Suffrage in Mississippi.”  Thanks to an intense and justified focus in the scholarly community on the enslavement and oppression of African-Americans, little attention has been paid towards the efforts of women in the South striving for rights of their own.  In this paper, Sarah Miles masterfully navigates the troubled and tumultuous history of women’s suffrage movements in Mississippi and offers a welcome glimpse into a struggle frequently overlooked in American history. (Written for Dr. Sandie Holguín)–Matthew Clark.

Jon Otto, “Uniquely British: Britain’s Intellectual Response to Revolution.” This paper transports the reader into the mindset of the English in the Age of Revolution. Otto provides an excellent synthesis of revolutionary and conservative thought during this period in England, illuminating an important point in the history of the British Empire in a fresh way. Otto’s laconic prose, unique interpretations, and solid research results in an outstanding study that is a welcome contrast to the war-diplomacy-empire approach to British History.    (Written for Dr. Jennifer Davis-Cline).  –Richard Blake Romines

Elizabeth Hurd.  “The Unwilling Insider’s Encounter with Nazism: Alsatian Incorporés de Force in World War II.” This paper weaves an enlightening narrative about a people caught in the middle of a geopolitical nightmare.  Drawing on the stories and writings of soldiers on and off the battlefield, Hurd illustrates just how difficult it was for Alsatians forced into the support of a foreign cause.  Her poignant writing reflects on the tale of a region historically controlled by outside forces.   (Written for Dr. Robert Griswold).  -Jon Otto

Rita Thompson. “When Movie Magic Conjures Historical Amnesia: The Over-Personalization and Simplification of the Origins of Nazi Anti-Semitism in Film.”  This paper minces no words in addressing the problems presented in documentary coverage of Hitler.  Popular documentaries misplace the emphasis of Hitler’s role in anti-Semitism and lend bias in the facts they present. This paper demonstrates a clear understanding of the subject matter.  Thompson’s thorough research and clear writing lead the reader through the historical context surrounding Hitler and the rise of anti-Semitism.  She illustrates other factors that contributed to anti-Semitism in Europe, and how people must take historical context into consideration when viewing historical documentaries. (Written for Dr. Alan Levenson). –Emily Cole.

Short Papers

Our shorter works section underscores the important role that more limited research plays in the learning process of OU history students.  Not every paper is a senior thesis, but these submissions are nonetheless exceptional in their lucid style, excellent research, and range of interests. John Sulkowski’s “Student Stars: How the Media Covered 1960’s Student Protest Leaders,” demonstrates the continuing importance of analyzing the role our media plays in influencing our perception of history (Written for Dr. Ronnie Grinberg). Our other short paper, Caleb Farris’s “The King and I?: An Analysis of Social Class and Loyalty in the Sagas of the Icelanders,” describes the role of social hierarchies in Viking society.  It is not only brilliantly written, but underscores the utility of non-traditional sources in analyzing ancient society.  (Written for Dr. Roberta Magnusson).   Both of our short papers this year are important historical works that prove the quality of our students' work. –Sarah Miles

Honorable Mention

As our journal grows and we receive ever more fine submissions, we have decided on several submissions for an honorable mention. Each of these works was vouched for by one or more of our editors and each merits contemplation and study.  Not only is each paper a fascinating read, but these honorable mentions help to demonstrate the quality of work done by OU history students, the myriad of interests they pursue, and the depth of their knowledge. –Sarah Miles

Madison Unruh, “The Tragedy at Robin Hood Hills: How the Media, Witchcraft, and a False Confession Imprisoned the West Memphis Three and Ultimately Led to their Freedom.”  (Written for Dr. Andrew Porwancher).

Kiersten Strachan, “The Deepest Circle of Hell: Sex Crimes Propagated at Unit 731 During the Pacific War (1931-1945)” (Written for Dr. Elyssa Faison).

Samuel McCann, “The Political Marginalization of Arab Christians in the British Mandatory Period.” (Written for Dr. Gershon Lewenthal).

Anthony Joyce, “The American Media and the Soviet Union at the Onset of U.S. Intervention in World War II,” (Written for Dr. Melissa Stockdale).

Colter Addington, “Washington: A European Capital City in the Early American Republic.” (Written for Dr. Cathy Kelly).


* 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 submissions to the journal was read by all the editors, who selected their top ten papers. A number one vote was assigned ten points, and a number ten vote was assigned one point. The points were then aggregated, and the top vote-recipients were selected for publication. The criteria the papers were judged by can be found here.