The fifth publication of Davidson History Journal includes work from the 2019-2020 academic school year. The editorial staff would like to thank Davidson’s History Department, all contributors, and the publication’s adviser, Dr. John Wertheimer, for their assistance in creating this volume.
Few women in Chinese history held as much power as Empress Dowager Cixi, who ruled from 1861 until 1908. She was described in many different ways by various people, including as conniving, intelligent, ruthless, kind, violent, powerful, vain and as responsible for the collapse of Imperial China. I will examine how these divergent and often dueling descriptors were informed by different types of sources, their authors, and the identities that these authors associated with the Empress Dowager.
The Holocaust and Algeria: History for Who? by Catherine Cartier
The history of Algerian Jews during the Holocaust has been both neglected and highly politicized when it has been studied. In Algeria, the anti-Semitic legislation of the Vichy regime was directly applied and concentration camps were set up across the country. This article examines recent scholarship on Algerian Jewish history during the Holocaust. I ask: for whom is this history written? How does this position of the historian shape the narrative they construct? In evaluating previous historiography, I suggest a path to more just scholarship on the Holocaust in Algeria.
One of the darkest periods in human history was the Holocaust during World War II. While often portrayed as a black and white issue of good versus evil, the moral dilemmas that faced the people of Eastern Europe landed them in gray areas that were somewhere in between the more rigid classifications of perpetrator, collaborator, bystander, and victim. This paper looks at the moral dilemmas that faced a Ukrainian man by the name of Jakob Reimer. A child of collectivization, he was undoubtedly a victim of the paranoia that plagued the early Soviet Union. Yet, after being captured by the Nazis, he became a foot soldier in the killing machine that perpetrated the Holocaust. Reimer exists in these gray areas of classification within the Holocaust. Most scholars would say that Reimer had no choice in these matters and he was forced into these decisions by the environment he was in and the pressure he was faced with. This paper ventures to argue that, even though that may be true in some cases, Reimer had agency in his decisions and there were viable alternatives to the decisions he made. Through this compelling case study, we will see the difficult decisions that Eastern European collaborators faced and what implications those decisions had.
In the period from 1934 to 1945, American Jews experienced stunning shifts both in how they experienced and related to their Jewish identity and in how aspects of their identity were perceived by non-Jews. As the highest-ranking Jew in American politics in this time period, Henry Morgenthau Jr. was at the center of issues such as rising anti-Semitism, changing attitudes about Zionism, Nazism in Europe, and the United States’ government’s response to the ongoing Holocaust. This paper looks at the rapid transformations in American Jewishness, using Morgenthau as a lens to study the simultaneous and ongoing dialogue occurring between American Jews and non-Jews that echoed the changes occurring in American Jewishness.
From medieval times, the historical concatenations of queerness and Jewishness in European cultural discourses and representations left queer and Jewish bodies especially vulnerable to racialized and gendered Othering in the sexological and medico-psychological transformations of the nineteenth century. Drawing on Foucaultian theories of Western discursive constitutions of ‘queerness’ and the seminal anti-Semitic events of the Dreyfus Affair in fin de siecle France, I contribute to a rich scholarship on the intimacy of queerness and Jewishness in the bodies of characters from Marcel Proust’s novel Sodom and Gomorrah (1913), part of his larger In Search of Lost Time. Proust positions queerness and Jewishness in his characters’ bodies along a spectrum of cultural and scientific ‘identifiability,’ and I investigate how the surety of this identifiability differed across variably firm lines of normative and colonized ‘genders,’ ‘races,’ and ‘sexualities’ in Parisian and more broadly ‘French’ bodies and geographies.
The Gendered Discourse of Charles Double by Joshua Huber
This paper is an analysis of the autobiography of self-professed ‘mental hermaphrodite’ Charles Double. Double’s autobiography is particularly pertinent to the study of crime, discourse, gender, and sexuality in late 19th century France. Because he was a homosexual, Double’s crime–the murder of his mother–was medicalized as a defect of his queer mind. As Double’s homosexual ‘femininity’ was contrasted by societal pressure to project biological masculinity, he was torn between two gendered extremes.
My research focuses on the creation and advertisement of plus size clothing in the United States in the 1920s, paying specific attention to how the development of “stout wear” complemented and formed part of the wave of changing attitudes about women’s body type in the first half of the twentieth century. I contextualize the development of stout wear and explore its place among the idealization of the flapper body, the boom of consumer products, and dieting fads. The language used in women’s journals portrayed stout bodies as objects in need of manipulation and correction.
Printing Toussain L’Overture: Haitian Masculinity Through the Western Gaze by Isabel Padalecki
This paper analyzes prints that white, Western men created depicting Toussaint L’Ouverture during the early nineteenth century, seeking to understand how he is presented as a uniquely masculine hero. In analyzing these artistic representations of Toussaint L’Ouverture, an important leader in the extraordinary events of the Haitian Revolution, I reveal the complex terrains of gendered and racialized subjectivity that defined the developing Western gaze through which Toussaint L’Ouverture’s personhood and leadership were understood. Further, this analysis reveals the extent to which Western notions of masculine normativity have formed around notions of white supremacy, demonstrating the extent to which Toussaint L’Ouverture’s heroism relied on representations that depicted him as being proximate to white, masculine norms cultivated in opposition to blackness throughout the colonial period.
During the nineteenth century in France, homosexuality was transformed from a discrete act to an identity. At the turn of the twentieth century, doctors and academics sought to define homosexuality biologically, using case studies and physical examinations of queer men. This paper examines trends found in medical reports from this period, as well as the autobiographical expression of queer men that manifested within them. Analyzing these reports allows for an insight into the ways in which homosexual men living in fin-de-siècle France communicated their own experiences, beliefs, and desires, and how their lives were interpreted through a medical gaze.
Athens’ Egyptian Expedition of 460 BCE by Matthew Sickenger
This paper explores the goals of the Athenian expedition to Egypt by examining the accounts of Thucydides, Ctesias, and Diodorus, as well as relevant inscriptions. The Athenians attacked Egypt as part of their wider strategy of denying Persia access to naval bases in the Eastern Mediterranean. They also went to Egypt for material gains, namely, to take advantage of Egypt’s great agricultural wealth. This paper supports the existing theory that Athens withdraw a large number of ships from Egypt before the final disaster, and thus adds to the academic conversation about the expedition.
The Revolutionary Symbology of French Wine by Scott Stegall
This paper argues that wine was central to the inauguration and character of the French Revolution. As commoners protested for an equitable system of taxation in the 1780s, affordable, quality wine surfaced as a vector of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. At the same time, the style and color of wine, as well as the glassware it was served in, conveyed political meaning. In using a syncretic approach that combines economic and symbolic historical methods, this paper demonstrates the national, regional, classist, and political meanings of French wine while affirming its significance in the French Revolution.
In the 1920s and 30s, the United States saw a rise in black activism prompted by the end of World War I and the growth of the NAACP. In West Virginia, the border state’s complex duality of race relations meant it was perfectly positioned for an eruption of racial solidarity and activism in the capital city of Charleston. Thus, when the city’s Board of Education attempted to segregate the public library in 1927, the black community unified across class lines and supported the Charleston NAACP’s extensive campaign to prevent the segregation and protect the civil rights of Charleston’s black citizens. This deep analysis argues that this campaign had a tremendous impact in establishing a model of litigation and advocacy that built the foundation of the national Civil Rights Movement.
D-day is considered to be one of the major turning points in World War II. The famed Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944 has been portrayed countless times across all forms of media and yet despite its popularity, many do not understand what made the day possible. This paper details the role that deception played in planning D-Day and the methods that fooled the famed German “Atlantic Wall” defenses allowing the invasion to be a success.