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College of Arts and Humanities

Graduate Theses

Graduates from Central Washington University's History Department Masters Program do not only graduate with a MA in History, rather they graduate with a key to open many doors in their future. Here is what some of our past graduate students have done for their theses.

Graduate Theses - 2013

Talea Anderson (thesis advisors Prof. Karen Blair and Prof. Daniel Herman):  "A Conflicted History : Margaret Splawn, Yakima Indians, and Native American Policy Reform, 1910s-1940s."

Anderson examines the career of Margaret Larsen Splawn—Yakima rancher, historian, and clubwoman—in order to understand how white, female reformers shaped Indian policy in the 1920s and 1930s. In the early twentieth century, argues Anderson, Splawn helped craft a contradictory history of the West. On the one hand, she and others glorified Native American cultures while, on the other hand, they lauded white settlers who had stripped Native Americans of traditions and resources. The tension generated by the commemorative project, argues Anderson, made Splawn and her colleagues more receptive to the voices of real Indians living on the Yakama reservation. Splawn’s Yakama acquaintances, in effect, made Splawn and women like her into critics of policies that denied Indians sovereignty.

Christina Bartholet (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck):  "Gaelicizing Ireland's Youth: The Pedagogy of Patrick Pearse and the Creation of St. Enda's School for Boys."

Christina's thesis explores the educational career of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916.  While his political and revolutionary careers are well-known, this thesis looks instead at his educational ideas.  In particular, Christina uses St. Enda's--the school he created in 1908--as a lens through which to analyze Pearse's theoretical and abstract pedagogy, as well as his desire to infuse Irish education with specifically "Irish" content.

Graduate Theses - 2012


Graduate Theses - 2011


Graduate Theses - 2010

Paul Baker (thesis advisor Prof. Roxanne Easley): "Fur and Fortune on the Frontier: Private Individuals and the Colonization of Siberia."

Baker explored the shifting relationship of necessity between private and state interests in the Russian annexation of Siberia, as shown in the letters patent issued by Ivan IV to the Stroganov family. Baker finds that, much in the same way as European overseas empires, the Russian state relied heavily on private enterprise to profit from the rich resources of its colony. Unlike those empires, Russian colonization of Siberia was a military necessity too, in which the integrity of the metropole depended on border defenses the state was as yet unable to supply. Ivan the Terrible, in this context, granted sweeping economic and jurisdictional concessions to the Stroganov brothers. Rather than the omnipotent tsar granting monopoly favors, Baker argued that the construction of autocracy necessitated the temporary decentralization of authority.

Gregory Hinze (thesis advisor Prof. Daniel Herman): "Taking Hold: Arkansawyer Immigration to the Wenatchee Valley, 1930-1960."

Hinze interviewed several dozen residents of Wenatchee who have Arkansas roots. Unlike the "Okies" who emigrated to California in the Dust Bowl era, Arkansas emigrants moved back and forth between Wenatchee and the Ozarks, whence they came. Though they faced stiff prejudice in Wenatchee, many of them ultimately decided to remain. Meanwhile they became prosperous by riding the economic wave brought by the New Deal and the Second World War. Hinze's project is a fine example of what a graduate student can accomplish by combining oral history with newspaper stories and government reports.
Hinze is now a full-time instructor of history at Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington. His thesis will soon be published in book form by the Wenatchee World Press.

Jennifer Oliphant (thesis advisor Prof. Roxanne Easley): "Divine Transformation: Foundations of Power in the Reign of Ivan the Terrible."

Jennifer explored the symbolic, artistic, and written expressions of Muscovite political power. Using foreign and domestic written sources and the visual arts, Oliphant showed the ways that the Muscovite tsars drew on the spiritual authority of the Orthodox Church, the administrative and military power of the Mongol khans, and the historical grandeur of Byzantium to establish themselves as the rightful rulers of Russia and the equals of foreign monarchs. Following theoretical models such as that developed by Ernst Kantorowicz, Oliphant was particularly interested in the symbiotic relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Muscovite princes in crafting the mythology of Russian monarchy. She described the “theater of power”: the physical placement and movement of actors, religious “scripts” legitimizing the new tsar, physical “props” that represented tsarist power, such as the regalia, as well as the audience, comprised of Russian subjects and foreign observers. Through such representations, Oliphant argued, Tsar and Church crafted the foundations of not only a dynastic identity, but of a transcontinental Russian national identity to come.

Robert Zakula (thesis advisor Prof. Stephen Moore): "Americanizing the Island: Modernity and Unsustainability in Post-Invasion Grenada"

Robert , relying heavily on oral histories that he conducted in Grenada, argues that U.S. economic aid to Grenada following the American invasion of 1984 had mixed success. Grenadians generally supported the transition to democracy, free enterprise and social development that American-led initiatives encouraged, and the nation did so without suffering the more heavy-handed and long-term intervention felt by other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the same time, success in Grenada continues to depend on outside aid. In this sense, the success or failure of post-invasion development is to be found in Grenada's future.

Graduate Theses - 2009

Tamara Caulkins (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck): "Values and Epistemology in Buffon's L'Histoire Naturelle" Chaired by Dr. Thomas Wellock and Dr. Jason Knirck.

Tamara’s thesis analyzed the French naturalist Buffon’s attempts to theorize the relationships between humans, animals, and nature, as well as how his own adoption of emerging bourgeois values shaped his natural history. 

Tamara is currently a funded doctoral student in history at the University of British Columbia, studying early modern Europe and the history of science.

Yan-po Liu (thesis advisor Prof. James Cook): "Chen Cheng in the Chinese Civil War, 1947-1950."

This piece reviewed the role of Chiang Kai-shek’s most famous general, Chen Cheng, in the famous Manchurian campaigns that were the beginning of the end of the Nationalist forces in 1947.

The University of Virginia accepted him into their Ph.D. program in 2009.

McKayla Sutton (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck): "Illuminating the Irish Free State: Nationalism, National Identity and the Promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme" Chaired by Dr. Jason Knirck.

McKayla’s thesis studied how the government of the Irish Free State attempted to promote a self-consciously “modern” hydroelectric project in the context of an Irish nationalist culture that often glorified rural and anti-modern traditions.  The thesis also analyzed what the promotion of the Shannon Scheme revealed about gender roles, tourism, and the Irish economy. 

McKayla is currently a funded doctoral student in history at Marquette University, studying Irish and European history.

Graduate Theses - 2008

Tyler Christensen (thesis advisor Prof. Daniel Herman): "The Twenty-Fourth Infrantry and the Changing Perceptions of Race in Salt Lake City."

Christensen examined the interactions between “buffalo soldiers”—African-American soldiers in the U.S. Army—who were stationed in Salt Lake City in the 1890s and white residents of the city, both Mormon and non-Mormon.

Christensen is now a community college instructor.

Kirsten Erickson (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck): "What Happens in the Interval': The Ulster Women's Unionist Council and Ulster Unionist Identity, 1912-1922."

Kirsten’s work highlights the efforts of the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council, an active group of Ulster women who advocated preserving the political and cultural connection between Ulster and Great Britain.  This study demonstrates that the women were not tools of male politicians, but advanced their own agendas and practiced their own versions of both drawing-room and mass politics.

Kristen Erickson is the Librarian at North Bend Public Library.

Al Miller (thesis advisor Prof. Roxanne Easley): "Peer of the Masters: Westernization and Noble Identity in Eighteenth-Century Travel Literature."

Miller argued that by the eighteenth century, Russia’s nobility was a socially but not politically privileged estate. In the course of Westernization, the tsars insisted that the court nobility learn the culture of the West, primarily to act as educated servitors on state projects. But the nobility endeavored to “measure up” to Western European standards in manners, comportment, and high cultural erudition. This process of assimilation created an enormous social gap between the educated nobility and the vast majority of the Russian people, which those same noblemen, now educated in Western social thought, could not fail to notice. The educated nobility’s role, from state servitors to European aristocrats, again took a new shape: application of Western ideas in the service of the Russian people. Nikolai Karamzin and Alexander Radishchev showed this identity confusion via the travelogue, a literary tool of comparison, national pride, oblique criticism, and prescription. They indicated, in their choice of travel venues and vignettes, how educated noblemen ought to perform as privileged elites in Russia and the world.

Al is finishing up his Ph.D program at the University of Washington.

Katie (Pittner) Marney (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck): "The Development of Modern Yoga: British Imperialism, Transnational Theosophy, and Indian Independence, 1875-1966."

Katie’s thesis analyzes the transformations within the practice of yoga as it was espoused by British observers in India, promoted to middle- and working-class audiences back in Britain, and entangled in Indian nationalism in the twentieth century. 

Katie is currently a funded doctoral student in library science at the University of Arizona.

Graduate Theses - 2007

Ramirose Attebury (thesis advisor Prof. Karen Blair): "From Academics to Social Training: Student Organizations at Washington State Normal School, 1891-1932."

Attebury examined the connection between student extracurricular activites and cultural trends in the early twentieth century.

Attebury is now a tenure-track librarian at the University of Idaho.

Rachel Birks (thesis advisor Prof. Jason Knirck): “Dancing Cubanidad: Reconfiguring National Identity through Fidel Castro’s Cultural Project, 1959-1973”

Rachael’s thesis looks at the ways in which dance was used by Cuban revolutionaries to promote the revolution.  She particularly focuses on how artists and authorities attempted to “Cubanize” both ballet—a quintessentially high culture and foreign form of art—and modern dance, often seen before the revolution as characteristically American and individualistic.

Rachael is currently a secondary school social studies and German teacher at Hanford High School in Richland, Washington.

Richard Coleman (thesis advisor Prof. James A. Cook): "Chinese Student Nationalism at Yanjing University."

Coleman's thesis looked at the role Yanjing University 's American faculty played in the development of student nationaliam.

Juanita Harman (thesis advisor Prof. James A. Cook): "Belligerence, Starvation, and Despair: The 1947 Anti-Hunger, Anti-Civil War Movement in Beijing."

Based on the archival research completed in China, the work analyses the role of student movements in the fall of the Nationalist regime in 1949.

Harman is currently completing her Ph.D. program SUNY Binghamton

Patrice Laurent (thesis advisor Prof. Michael Ervin): "Coffee's Competing Visions: The Development, Contestation and Negotiation of Soconusco's Coffee Economy"

Patrice’s thesis focuses on the production of coffee in late nineteenth century Chiapas, concentrating on the triangular relationship between Chiapan coffee planters, indigenous laborers, and the central government in Mexico City.  Patrice studied both the economic and cultural aspects of these relationships. 

Patrice is currently a tenure-track professor of history at Montgomery County Community College outside of Philadelphia and enrolled in a doctoral program at Temple University.

Graduate Theses - 2006

Andrew Caveness (thesis advisor Daniel Herman): "Delate Tilicums: Edmond S. Meany and Chief Joseph: Science, Politics, and the Making of an Intercultural Friendship, 1901-1905."

Caveness examined Chief Joseph's later life, when he became an ethnographical informant for University of Washington professor Edmond S. Meany. Caveness examined Meany's motivation for befriending Chief Joseph as well as Chief Joseph's motivation for befriending Meany.

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