Patrick Beirne (‘22, History) and Sydney Horner (‘22, History) tied for Best Undergraduate Paper and Nat Pendergraft (‘22, History, TV Writing & Production; MA War & Society ‘23) was the runner-up at the 2022 Southern California Phi Alpha Theta (History Honors Society) Regional Conference.

The conference featured 45 student presentations and 10 participating schools, and was organized by Wilkinson College’s Department of History and the Alpha Mu Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) which hosted the event at Chapman on Saturday, April 16. With the guidance of faculty advisors Dr. Alexander Bay and Dr. Jeffrey Koerber, all 28 senior history majors presented their thesis research to an audience that included faculty, peers, and families. Horner’s award winning paper, “Tap Dance in Black and White: Race, Representation, and the Film Career of the Nicholas Brothers,” aimed to evaluate the film career of the Nicholas Brothers’ and their popularity amongst white audiences arguing that “ tap dance in film obscures racial boundaries due to its sophisticated aesthetic and containment within the “special feature.”

“It was an honor and joy to present my paper at the PAT Conference last weekend. I was inspired by all the incredible research presented by my peers and truly appreciated the feedback I received on my work,” said Horner. 

Pictured left to right: Nat Pendergraft (‘22, History, TV Writing & Production; MA War & Society ‘23), Sydney Horner (‘22, History), Dr. Alex Bay, and Patrick Beirne (‘22, History) at the Southern California Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference.

Beirne’s award winning paper, “Planting Flax, Manufacturing Linen, and Becoming Patriots in Dublin Pamphlets, 1720-1749” examines, through an exhaustive search of early to mid-18th century Dublin pamphlets, the construction of an Irish identity based on the nascent cotton industry. Since England banned the import of Irish wool, a new economy, as well as a new sense of an Irish nation, developed as elites struggled to rebuild the financial basis of the country.

Pendergraft presented, “Laudanum and Lavender: Patent Medicine Prescribed to 19th Century American Women,” examining how patented medicines (containing narcotics) were used by doctors to end any medical concerns or complaints women had, denying women body autonomy. “I really enjoyed getting to share my work with my peers, my family, and my professors. Trying to balance my two majors is difficult so I am so incredibly thankful for Dr. Koerber and Dr. Bay for all their patience and guidance that made this possible,” said Pendergraft.

After two years of pandemic cancellations, Chapman finally hosted the Regional.

“Participation in the conference is a part of the History major and the students get experience presenting their research. In a very real sense, it is a rite de passage for our majors,” said Dr. Bay. “They have spent the last year and a half working on their senior thesis projects. The amount of time and effort put into these papers border on first-year graduate school research seminar intensity. We are not surprised when our students win best-paper awards because the research is usually heads-and-shoulders above their peers in other history programs,” he said

Congratulations to all the historians that shared their research at this year’s conference.

(Pictured in header: Chapman History students and advisors at the 2022 Southern California Phi Alpha Theta (History Honors Society) Regional Conference.)