The third annual history department conference was held in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on Tuesday.
The department showcased 13 undergraduate students presenting on four different subject matters, an alumni panel and a concluding guest lecture about the Civil Rights Movement in the North.
Dr. Christine Baker, the department’s specialist on the Middle East, helped push for the conference to grow.
“We had smaller ones for years,” she said. “Recently we’ve made a successful transition to a larger showcase.”
Baker said the expanded conference size helps students better prepare for even larger venues.
“We have several students going on in the following weekends who will present at a regional conference, and a history society event at the University of Pittsburgh,” Baker said. “Presenting here gives them the chance to organize their research and practice presenting it an audience that might be unfamiliar with the subject matter.”
Antonella Mastroianni (sophomore, history) had similar sentiments.
“I’ve done 15-minute presentations and stuff for class before, but this was a totally different environment,” she said. “Very helpful, but very nerve wracking.”
Mastroianni presented on the Battle of Culloden, which she explained was “only an hour long … but historians have eventually decided that it was one of the most important in world history.”
Fought in 1745 between the Roman Catholic Scottish Jacobites and the Anglican British, the battle led to the total defeat of the Scottish and was the last battle fought on English soil.
As interesting as the battle itself was, Mastroianni was more focused on the historiography of the fight.
“Historiography is the study of the changing ways historians look at history over time,” Baker said. “So historians may used to have been focused on the battles of the Revolutionary War, but some look at it through specific political contexts, where others focus on the cultural and social aspects of the conflict.”
Antonella presented on how “19th century historians really ignored the Scottish perspective, and they were all British.”
“Just recently, historians have used archaeological and archival evidence to incorporate the Scottish point of view and have realized just how important Culloden was,” Mastroianni said.
The conference as a whole was a showcase for the unique perspectives on history.
“One of the presenters talked about the linguistic features of Chinese propaganda,” Baker said. “So how the little changes in characters could convey a lot of meaning in the propaganda piece. He also showed us Chinese memes, which was pretty fun.”