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History Thesis Abstracts

SEAN DOHERTY (Daniel Sarefield), 2012


With the rise of Christianity in the fourth century, Romans began to re-interpret sexual depictions. As the Christian religion came to be established in the Roman state, the acceptance of sexual imagery also gradually disappeared because these images became inherently problematic. This occurred because Christianity changed the culturally constructed way these images were perceived. Christianity, as the ascendant religion in the Mediterranean, promoted a new set of beliefs about acceptable social behavior and as a result, the way people thought about Roman life changed. This transformation is evident in the changing notions surrounding the image of the black African. This new doctrine also problematized bathing at the baths. This paper seeks to explore the Roman social constructions of sexual imagery prior to Christianity and their subsequent re-interpretation that was strongly expressed in the explicit injunctions of monastic writers. In order to understand the events which led to Christianity dictating these new cultural norms, it is important to begin by tracing how Christianity became the religion of the Roman state. This will be accomplished in Part I. In particular, this section will address the conditions during the Pax Romana or “Roman peace” (ca. 1st and 2nd centuries CE) and following. The Roman interpretation of the image of the black African and its Christian re- interpretation will be explored in Part II, Section I. This section will assess the meaning of hypersexuality as it related to the Aethiops by looking at the contemporary writings of John Clarke, Frank Snowden, Lloyd Thompson and others. The “ironic change” to the understanding of the black African’s nature during the transition from paganism to Christianity will be the focus Part II, Section II. This transformation has not been adequately explored in current scholarship. In Part III, the change in the way that sexual images were viewed and understood in Roman society will be addressed. To illustrate the connotations that depictions of sex had for Romans, John Clarke’s idea about the difference between modern perceptions of the depiction of sexuality and how ancient viewers perceived them will be discussed. Their ideas of modesty, paired with the sexual imagery and the magic practices associated with bathing complexes created the basis for their abhorrence to bathing. This evidence will illustrate the effects that Christianity had on certain aspects of Roman culture. Namely the change of the black African, and how early Christians began to problematized bathing at the baths. These alterations to preconceived notions that Roman’s held shows what it meant to be Roman changed with the advent of Christianity.

JILL HAYES (Sean Goodlett), 2008


The last decade of the 17th century saw the beginning of a literary vogue in France. Fairy tales, which had appeared in salon activities in the 1670s, had evolved into a movement of public literary works, and a new genre emerged. But why were fairy tales so popular? One explanation is seen through the context of the Quarrel of Ancients and Moderns, an intellectual debate that swept through Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries. France was largely influenced by this debate between 1687 and 1694, when the fairy tale genre was picking up speed. Charles Perrault, a noted academician and writer of fairy tales, emerged as one of the leading voices for modernism. Unlike the Ancients, who believed that art should imitate the classical styles of Rome and Greece, Perrault believed that humans had the ability to surpass the greatness of classical artists by learning from their work and building on their experiences. He compared folklore and fairytales to classical stories, stating that because fairy tales contained a message of moral value, they were more useful than the Ancient classical texts. His niece, Marie-Jeanne L’Hertier, another author of fairy tales, agreed with him. Thus, the genre of fairy tales became associated with modernism. Two thirds of the fairy tales published during this period were written by women, and because they had been denied a classical education, their writings often sympathized with modern ideology. This project will seek to examine the authorship of women through the context of this debate. It is argued that women used both the genre of fairy tales and the ideology of the moderns as a vehicle to advance themselves in French intellectual society at a time when there was much opposition to the idea of women in the publishing industry.

SONYA SPONGBERG (Daniel Sarefield), 2008


Through the millennia, the island of Sicily has been fought over by dozens of different peoples, each leaving their mark on its landscape and history. One of the earliest peoples to settle in this land were the Greeks, who colonized the island during their Archaic Age. This thesis project investigates this period of conquest and change in the Greek world and its impact on Sicily. It will examine the Greek homeland, drawing evidence to find why the Greeks expanded from their established cities. It will also investigate the conditions on Sicily throughout the period when the Greeks arrived, showing who was there to greet and, in many cases, fight these invaders. The cities that they established (Naxos, Syracuse, Megara Hyblaea) and those that grew from them (Akrai, Leontini, Agrigentum) will be studied using archaeological records as well as accounts from Greek historians and contemporary studies. The economic, military, and religious aspects of these colonies will be analyzed, from their humble beginnings to their decline and conquest by the Romans. This thesis will hopefully show how the Greeks adopted Sicily as their own territory, transporting their culture and society across the ocean in order to expand their sphere of influence. By doing so, the colonies of Sicily were able to match and later exceed the expectations of the original settlers, sometimes rivaling the grandeur of even the largest of the Greek city-states. By colonizing the island, Greece would leave a permanent mark on it and its culture throughout the ages.