Erskine College students Sadie Bradley, Rebecca Claxton, Sharon George, and Vanessa Harshaw, all candidates for departmental honors in history, presented their research at the Carolinas Regional Conference of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT), hosted this year at the College of Charleston.
Assistant Professor of History Dr. Alessandra Brivio was happy to accompany the students to the meeting. “Erskine’s students received great compliments for their work and Sadie Bradley was awarded second place for ‘outstanding undergraduate paper,” she reports.
Sadie Bradley presented “Pride and Prejudice Courtship: A Historical Look at Dating and Love during the Georgian Era.” She says Jane Austen’s novel “reflects the importance of class rankings and hierarchy in Georgian courtship and dating, both expressing and undermining what was seen as appropriate in Georgian Era relationships.”
Sadie, who is from Due West, S.C., is completing a double major in English and history. “I was so honored that my research paper placed second in the conference, especially after hearing that something the judges appreciated was how I combined my two areas of study—literature and British history.”
After graduation, Sadie, who sings in the Choraleers and Chamber Singers and is president of the Choraleers, would like to work in social media marketing or branding. “In addition, I hope to work toward a future career in the music industry, which would be fulfilling a lifelong dream,” she says.
Rebecca Claxton, a history major from Albemarle, N.C., presented a paper called “Porches and People: A Discussion of Southern Hospitality through the Architecture of the Front Porch.” She says her research shows that the porch “displays southern hospitality because it is a common feature of Southern architecture that hosts the community and serves as an in-between space in society.”
The Phi Alpha Theta event was rewarding for Rebecca, whose campus activities include serving as president of the honor society Alpha Chi and singing in the Choraleers. “I am grateful I pushed myself to attend,” she says. “The reception of my paper and the comments I received gave me a boost of confidence that my writing is worth sharing.” She says her conference experience “has increased my desire to continue researching throughout my life.”
Rebecca’s post-commencement plans include marriage to “the love of my life,” she says. She is resolved “to never stop learning and to share what I learn.”
Sharon George, from Spartanburg, S.C., is completing a triple major in history, psychology, and Bible and religion. She is also a member of the instrumental ensemble Sinfonia. She presented “The Relationship between the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and Upstate South Carolina Textile Mills.”
“I think the most rewarding aspect of presenting my research at the conference was the fact that I was able to tell other people about something that I am passionate about,” Sharon says. “It was also great to talk about history, which is something I love, with a lot of people who are passionate about the same thing.”
Sharon has one more year left at Erskine, so she is applying for a grant to conduct further research on her topic.
Vanessa Harshaw, from Newberry, S.C., presented a paper titled “Women in Greek Myths—Antiquity to Now,” comparing ancient Greek myths to such modern-day retellings as Circe by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. She investigated how female characters based on mythological ones retain the traits originally ascribed to them as well as how contemporary authors expand those characters to make them “more multidimensional.”
The conference was a good opportunity for Vanessa, a double major in history and social studies who is currently completing her student teaching. “I enjoyed learning about the other research presented by my classmates and by students from other institutions,” she says.
Vanessa’s post-commencement plans include teaching full-time at a high school in the upstate of South Carolina and “potentially getting a master’s degree as well.”
To earn the designation “Honors in History” at Erskine College, students must complete a number of requirements, including the presentation of their HS 399 or HS 400 paper at a national or regional meeting.
Phi Alpha Theta is an American honor society for undergraduate and graduate students and professors of history. Established in 1921 at the University of Arkansas, the society has more than 400,000 members, with some 9,000 new members joining each year through 970 chapters nationwide. Assistant Professor of History Dr. Corinne Gressang serves as faculty sponsor for the Erskine chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.
Pictured above, from left, are Sharon George, Vanessa Harshaw, Dr. Alessandra Brivio, Rebecca Claxton, and Sadie Bradley.