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Whitworth history students and faculty present research in Portland

May 2, 2013

University of Portland
Six Whitworth students presented research papers at the regional Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society Conference at the University of Portland, April 4-6. After a long drive with professors of history Arlin Migliazzo and Dale Soden, who gave presentations at another conference in Portland, these six students represented Whitworth’s history department with a wide range of paper topics.

The six selected Whitworth students and the titles of their presented papers are as follows:
  • Brandon Campbell, ’14: “Shadows of Babi Yar: The Conscience Behind Dmitri Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony”
  • Sarah Cochrane, ’14: “Ragged Ridge: The Financial Failure of an Environmental Education Center” 
  • Sarah Gumm, ’14: “Education, Enrichment, and Enrollment: Women in Lifelong Learning Programs”
  • Sarah Kenney, ’14: “Reformation: A Tool for the Fulfillment of Dynastic and Personal Goals”
  • Sarah O’Bernier, ’13: “Fascist Art and Aesthetics: Questioning the Homogeneity in Artistic Perspectives in Mussolini’s ‘New Italy’” 
  • Andrew Tkach, ’13: “Online and On the Attack: The Effects of Technology and the Internet on the Ideology of the White Power Movement” 

“I had never presented at a conference before, and I did not know that there would be a commentator who provided constructive criticism,” says O’Bernier, a senior history major. “While that terrified me initially, ultimately it was a great opportunity to hear thoughts from a faculty member from a different university. The overall experience was informative and wonderful.”

O’Bernier’s paper was a study on fascist art and aesthetics in Mussolini’s Italy. She became interested in this subject while studying abroad in Milan, Italy, for a semester and taking a contemporary art class.

After graduating from Whitworth, O’Bernier plans to teach English abroad for a few years before attending law school, where she would like to focus on immigration or family law with an emphasis on children.

“Being surrounded by so many people who shared a passion for similar interests was invigorating,” says Tkach, senior history major. “My fellow panelists put the same amount of time and energy into their research as I did. I would strongly encourage others to take the opportunity to present their research if they have the chance. The experience is invaluable, and it helps you recognize that you are part of broader scholarship on the subject.”

In his paper, Tkach examined how white supremacist groups use the Internet to recruit new members; he focused  on hate music websites and discussed the historical context of past failed ideologies and how those past attempts at intergroup unity have led to the general acceptance of hate music.

After graduating, Tkach plans on taking a year off before pursuing his master’s degree in education or teaching, with the end goal of teaching high school history or biology.

Phi Alpha Theta is a national history honors society, which holds a Northwest regional conference every April. To become a member of this society, a student must have an overall strong academic record and must have completed at least 12 credits of upper-division history and maintained a grade point average of at least 3.5 in his or her history courses.

Also during the weekend of April 4-7, Migliazzo and Soden attended the American Society of Church History, in Portland. Migliazzo presented “’Hallelujah for Hollywood:’ Evangelicals and the Entertainment Industry, 1949-1959,” and Soden presented “Religious Crusades in the Pacific Northwest: The Fight for Prohibition and Civil Rights.”

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.