Student Awards 2020-21
The McPhee Prize is an annual award, established in 2007 through the generosity of Lulu and John McPhee, given to a History Major or Minor whose sustained achievement in history includes writing the most outstanding paper in a senior seminar. The McPhee prize winner for 2020-2021 was Brandon Schultz who wrote two outstanding papers: 'A Young Girl’s Blood': Women and Empowering Violence in the Algerian Revolution” and “The Last War of The Masses: How the Anti-War Basket Spoiled All the American Socialist Eggs.”
The Redwood Prize, established in 1908 by the executive committee of The Redwood, is given to the student who writes the best essay on a historical subject. Sophie Wink was the 2020-2021 winner of the Redwood prize for her essay: “The Capitalist System is a System of Murder for Profit”: Radium Girls in the Radical and Mainstream Press.”
The Giacomini Prize is awarded to a history major or minor for the best researched paper based on primary sources and last year’s prize went to Natalie Henriquez for her paper, “The Malicious and Untruthful White Press”: Ida B. Wells’s Fight Against White Supremacy.”
Last, but certainly not least, the Frederick J. Mehl Prize, established in 1993 by the History Department in memory of friend and benefactor Frederick J. Mehl, is given to the senior whose exemplary record in history includes writing the best senior thesis. In 2020-2021, the Mehl Prize went to Tegan Smith and Brandon Schultz.
Tegan Smith’s thesis, “Gay Bars in Pre-Stonewall San Francisco: “Walk-In Closets” as the Source of a Surprisingly Divergent Queer Activism,” offers a fresh perspective on political organizing in the LGBTQ+ community of 1960s San Francisco. Drawing from an impressive collection of primary and secondary sources, Smith shows how the policing of San Francisco’s gay bars in the 1960s contributed to the proliferation of diverse LGBTQ+ activist organizations such as the League for Civil Education, the Tavern Guild, and the Society for Individual Rights. These organizations formed in response to the SFPD’s discretionary power to regulate and police gay bars. They also partnered with other LGBTQ+ activist groups forming, what Smith describes, as “dynamic activism dedicated to rising to the challenges of its time with a sustained commitment to fighting injustice.”
Brandon Schultz’s thesis, “Unfinished Business: Ghosts, Specters, and Phantoms in Revolutionary Narratives,” provides an excellent analysis of rhetorical strategies employed in discourse on revolution of the late eighteen and early nineteenth centuries, specifically the use of spectral manifestations to depict past events. These figures were favored greatly by contemporary authors in narrating revolutionary histories, whether Liberals, Conservatives, or Radicals, in part because they struck a chord with the Romantic taste for the Gothic. Brandon examines in some detail the work of almost a dozen authors, including Wollstonecraft, Tocqueville, Carlyle, Dickens, Burke, Blanqui, Hugo, Vastey, and George Sand. He focuses on three ghost tropes employed by these writers—the Revelatory, the Cautionary, and the Inspirational—offering a sophisticated analysis of the use of each to represent past institutions to be overthrown or embraced, past victims of power calling for revenge, or aspects of past revolutions to be imitated or avoided—and demonstrating how each spectral trope possessed unique ideological functions for those opposed groups as they engaged identical aspects of revolution.