On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library hosted the inaugural Senior Showcase, an event honoring exemplary research completed by Wake Forest University undergraduates in their final year. Honorees shared their research from their senior theses before the Wake Forest community in a three-part lecture in the Library’s Allen Mandelbaum Reading Room. The 2010 honorees were:

  • Anna Nicodemus (History, Division I); nominated by Dr. Paul Escott
  • Courtney Vris (French Studies, Division II); nominated by Dr. Kendall Tarte
  • Mallory Durr (Political Science, Division IV); nominated by Dr. Helga Welsh

Anna Nicodemus’s thesis, “Prudential Unionism: Southern Sentiment, Unionist Reasoning, and Maryland’s Allegiance in Early 1861,” examined the conflicting emotional and strategic support given to the Union across Maryland, her home state, at the outbreak of the Civil War. As Anna noted, Maryland’s position south of the Mason-Dixon line yet north of Washington, D.C., made the state geographically vital to the Union, but many citizens were predisposed to Southern identification. Although Maryland remained in the Union, Anna’s research found that strong sympathies with Southern ideals resulted in several clashes within Maryland in the spring of 1861. Interestingly, Southern sentiment is still enshrined in Maryland’s state song (written in April 1861 and adopted in 1939, but recently challenged), found in the closing lines: “She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb- / Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!”

Courtney Vris’s thesis, “Renée Saccard et Paris, ville complice, dans La Curée d’Émile Zola” (Renée Saccard and Paris, urban accomplice, in Émile Zola’s La Curée), examined the role that the city of Paris played in Zola’s novel in the character development of Renée Saccard, the central character. Focusing on four Parisian places – the Bois de Boulogne, the hotel Saccard, the hotel Béraud Du Châtel, and theCafé Riche – Courtney demonstrated how each location acted as an influence upon and reflection of Renée’s behavior and emotions. As later discussed during the question and answer session, Paris could easily be interpreted as a fourth main character in Zola’s novel.

Mallory Durr’s thesis, “Divided Societies: Power Sharing in Multilingual Democracies,” was a case study of four countries that have differing multilingual traditions and codified linguistic policies, and how those impact democracy. Her research examined the role that official linguistic policies play in addressing conflict and upholding democracy in Switzerland, Belgium, India, and South Africa. Mallory found that no single overt, official linguistic policy plan is better at supporting democracy through the engagement and protection of linguistic minorities, but rather that covert, voluntary cultural policies need to rise within the political realm to ensure greater equality and protection.

Photos from the Showcase, including photos of the honorees and their nominating faculty, can be viewed here. Plans for the 2011 Senior Showcase are already in progress, with the primary aim of adjusting the eligibility deadline for nominations to achieve future representation from all five divisions of Wake Forest College.