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Change-ringing occupies a strange position in English history, ubiquitous but virtually unstudied. This project investigates the philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings of change-ringing’s seventeenth-century development, using ringing literature and contemporary poetry to trace themes of circularity and ordered change in both content and structure. I conclude that the poets and ringers of the seventeenth century devised their unique aesthetic modes in order to create universally mimetic experiences that solidify faith in divine providence.

People

Emma Stanford

Researcher

 

Marion Wells

Sponsor and Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

 

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Grateful Vicissitude (PDF)

This project was inspired by my junior year abroad at the University of Oxford, during which I took up the esoteric hobby of change-ringing. Thanks to a research grant from the Mellon Foundation, I spent last summer in England researching the early history of change-ringing and its ideological parallels in seventeenth-century poetry, particularly the work of John Milton. “Grateful Vicissitude,” which I wrote this spring as a senior honors essay in Literary Studies, explains the phenomenon and history of change-ringing and then delves into its religious and philosophical roots, with help from ringing-chamber poetry and bell inscriptions. To support my analysis, I also draw from poetry by Donne, Herbert, and Milton, focusing on the portrayal of divine providence in both substance and structure across disciplines.

 

The popular Western perceptions of both Mohandas Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose are belied by their interactions in 1939. Gandhi, popularly perceived as the saint-like Mahatma, displayed his willingness to play political hardball to retain his hold on power. Subhas Chandra Bose, a left wing rival to Gandhi within the Indian independence movement, left a political legacy within the movement that controverts his image as an Axis collaborator of minor importance. Using primary source documents including British colonial records, contemporary newspaper reports, Indian National Congress resolutions, and statements issued by Bose and Gandhi, I outline the reasons for their clash and argue that Bose’s influence persisted past his ouster from the Congress Party leadership, reappearing in the push for the Quit India movement in 1942.

 

People

Will Woodworth – Researcher

Ian Barrow – Sponsor and Professor of History

 

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This research examines how adolescents think about knowledge and knowing, evaluate competing sources of knowledge, trust certain sources of knowledge, justify knowledge, and approach certainty of knowledge, processes collectively referred to as “personal epistemology.” This project is a four-year, multi-method and multi-measure study in which students from grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 were interviewed about their views on knowledge and knowing. In this set of analyses, we examined the question of domain specificity in adolescent epistemic development and found that personal epistemology is not consistent across all domains, but rather, adolescents’ views about knowledge vary depending on the domain of knowledge that they evaluate. By comparing adolescents’ views on historical knowledge vs. scientific knowledge, we found that adolescents were more likely to trust sources of knowledge in science, to justify sources of scientific knowledge as more trustworthy and valid, and to view knowledge in science as more certain.

People

Lauren Goldstein
Researcher

Barbara Hofer
Sponsor & Professor of Psychology

“What if you had two accounts of the causes of a war, one by a person who lived at that time, and another by a historian, a history expert, who didn’t live through the war, but who has researched it a lot. Which one would you find more believable?”

77% of 6th graders, 73% of 8th graders, and 36% of 12th graders chose contemporary.

Most Common Rationale for Choosing Contemporary

Grade Because Witness Personally Experienced it Because Historian’s Information Could Be Wrong
6th (n=20) 100% (n=20) 40% (n=8)
8th (n=24) 100% (n=24) 21% (n=5)
12th (n=9) 78% (n=7) 11% (n=1)

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For thousands of years, the written word contained only streams of capital letters, with unseparated words and sentences. Punctuation appeared in only rudimentary forms in the early centuries A.D., and was invented specifically to prevent those who read aloud in church from misreading on misinterpreting a passage of the scriptures. Spaces between words did not appear until the 700s A.D., after the development of the Carolingian Miniscule and the establishment of Benedictine rule, and it was not until the 1100s that they became common place. Suddenly, readers no longer needed to mumble through passages to discern their meanings, and began to read as we do most commonly today: in silence. The new written form inspired the first alphabetized glossaries, made books more compact and personal, and made literacy a more widespread goal. But it also triggered a sense of independence and empowerment as yet unknown in medieval society, causing a rise of critical thinkers and skeptics, and, in turn, inciting fear of heresy in the church. Indeed, without punctuation and the space between words, would we have the same capacity for questioning that we do today?

People

Melissa Hirsch
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

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Primary sources, diaries, ancient coins, a mere scrap of paper, are the materials from which the stories of the past are discovered. The project I undertook while interning at the National Archives and Records Administration addressed how we, as teachers of history, keep primary sources available, captivating, and the focus of historical education. I investigated this directly by assisting in the testing and presenting of DocsTeach, one of the most innovative historical tools for educators, which provides interactive activities built from a database of digitized primary sources. I helped increase access to records further with use of social media. The growing social phenomenon of digitization is not just connecting us with our future; it is connecting us to our past like never before, lowering the barrier of access for students young and old. The educational tools being created around these now easily accessible records, such as DocsTeach, are just the beginning.

People

Brittany Gendron
Researcher

Amy Morsman
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

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It is impossible to understand a nation’s motivations and actions without being familiar with its national identity and the circumstances that shaped it. In the early twentieth century, Germany and Italy were both governed by authoritarian regimes that intertwined extreme nationalism with fascist ideology. After WWII, each nation faced the difficult task of redefining the political, social, and ethical terms of its national identity. We ask the question “How did Italy and Germany come to terms with their fascist past, and to what extent is the legacy of fascism still alive in national discourse?” Our research, which uses Italian, German and English sources, shows that despite underlying similarities, each nation has taken a different approach to integrating their fascist past into national identity. We look, for example, at how Hitler and Mussolini are differently remembered and the effect of their political and cultural legacies. The larger aim of this presentation is to show how, generally speaking, memory is a key factor in national identity.

People

Ashley Litzenberger
Mark Turpin
Researchers

Natasha Chang
Sponsor & Professor of Italian

Natalie Eppelsheimer
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of German

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A MiddLab Project

Creating a National Ideal: How Baseball Drove Bushido in 20th Century Japan

Learn more about History and Japanese at Middlebury College

Baseball is certainly Japan’s most popular sport, in part because players there are said to embody bushido, an ancient set of values said to have described samurai gentlemen of old. However, bushido is far from timeless and unchanging. Instead, it is a dynamic term that has changed, especially in the 20th Century, as Japanese society has struggled to maintain its unique identity despite the homogenizing pressures of globalization. I argue that baseball players bring about this change by setting examples for the rest of society, and that as the behavior of players has evolved, the popular perception of bushido and the way Japanese citizens idealize their own history has evolved right with them.

People

Adam Lee
Researcher

Neil Waters
Sponsor & Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies

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The Roman Republic rested on a paradox, in which men of the elite were expected to distinguish themselves and win glory, but not overstep certain bounds of self-sacrifice to the common good. Rome was a “contest culture,” in which the tension between the ideal of service to the Republic conflicted with ambitious individuals who subverted that ideal by vying for control of the state. I examine Julius Caesar’s own account of his march on Rome in 49 BC; the history written by Sallust of the Catilinarian conspiracy, a plot hatched by a disillusioned and disenfranchised failed politician in 63 BC; and the story of Coriolanus, an Roman general of the 5th-century BC who marched on Rome because of a perceived personal insult. Each of these three accounts features a Roman aristocrat reacting to a public conflict and perversely making that public, political issue into a private conflict.

People

Margaret Clark
Researcher

Christopher Star
Sponsor &  Assistant Professor of Classics

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Ingrid Pixley is a long-time Vermont resident, working as a Property Manager for Addison County Community Trust,  a local non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to the low- and middle-income people of Addison County. Doug Sinclair’s the co-founder of the Middlebury Community Care Coalition (MCCC), which since 2004 has since grown to 600 members who contribute over 18,000 volunteer hours per year supporting the housing and food needs of families and individuals who need a helping hand.

People

Doug Sinclair

Co-Founder of Middlebury Community Care Coalition

Ingrid Pixley

Property Manager for Addison County Community Trust

Yuan Lim

Student Organizer

Veronica Muoio

Student Organizer

Dan Murphy

Student Organizer

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A MiddLab Project

American Poverty in Context: Poverty 101

Learn more about Service Learning at Middlebury College.

In 1997, Dr. Beckley helped to create and became the first Director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, which integrates sustained rigorous academic study and focused direct service to disadvantaged communities and persons. In 1999, Dr. Beckley was named the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion and in 2002 he received the state of Virginia’s highest award for excellence in education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award.

People

Harlan Beckley

Director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee University

Yuan Lim

Student Organizer

Veronica Muoio

Student Organizer

Dan Murphy

Student Organizer

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