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Department ofHistory


2023 Mehl Prize winners and History faculty

2023 Mehl Prize winners and History faculty

Student Awards 2022-23

The History Department conferred its annual awards.

McPhee Prize

2023 McPhee prize winner with History Department chair Amy Randall

It awarded Julia Kovatch with the McPhee Prize, which was established in 2007 from the generosity of Lulu and John McPhee. The award recognizes a History Major or Minor whose sustained achievement in history includes the writing of the best seminar paper. Julia was recognized for her paper, “"Go Outside and Play!': Backyard Playgrounds in New York City During the Progressive Era.” Nancy Unger, who taught the seminar, described her essay as exhibiting the same qualities as all of her written work: it features an original thesis built on critical examination of carefully selected secondary and primary research, and is beautifully written.

Redwood Prize

2023 Redwood prize winner with History faculty

The History Department’s Redwood Prize was established in 1908 for a student who writes the best essay on a historical subject. The 2023 recipient was Stephanie Anna Nicolae her paper entitled “The Open Secret: Male Prostitution, Homosexuality, and Pederasty in French Indochina.” In this paper, Nicolae explores linkages between homosexual promiscuity, the fragility of white masculinity, and the instability of colonial authority in fin-de-siecle Indochina.

Giacomini Prize

2023 GIacomini prize winner with History faculty

Hannah Hagen’s paper, “Tradition Shattered: How Women’s Recreation at SCU Aided the Acceptance and Assimilation of the Santa Clara Woman” earned the Giacomini Prize, awarded to a History Major or Minor for the best-researched paper based on primary sources. Hannah’s essay provides an original contribution to the fields of women’s and gender studies and social history. Utilizing an extensive range of local and national archival material, Hagen illuminates the emancipatory role played by the Women’s Recreational Association (WRA) at SCU.

Mehl Prize

2023 Mehl Prize winners and History faculty

Finally, the Mehl Prize, established in 1933 in memory of friend and benefactor Frederick J. Mehl, is given to the best senior thesis. The 2023 recipients were Sean Chamberlain and Bianca Romero.

Sean received the award for his essay “’Our Cause is Good’: The Roots of the Republican Party in Michigan and Wisconsin,” which investigates the factors that led to the formation of the Republican Party during the decades before the American Civil War. Drawing on primary sources from a wide range of local newspapers, Sean explains how the disintegration of the Whig Party, the complacency of the Democratic Party, and growing opposition to slavery created a gap in Northern politics.

The Department also recognized Bianca for her University Honors Program senior thesis, “Encounters: The Geography of Urban Colonial Interactions in French Vietnam.” The essay uses historical and gendered lenses to analyze the intersections of race, gender, and class in European colonial empires using fictional works created in colonial contexts, particularly Marguerite Duras’ The Lover. In considering issues such as how race and gender shaped urban mobility, and how boundaries of and between French and Vietnamese spaces reinforced the colonial hierarchy, Bianca’s work creates a spatial history of French colonialism.

2023 Honor students

We also celebrated our students who graduated with Honors, having received a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in their history classes and completed a senior thesis project: Sean Chamberlain, Hannah Hagen Aashna Nilawar, Bianca Romero, Nico Sanchez, Ariana Tabrizi, Antonio Vargas, and Rob Wohl.