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Chants in Action

Exploring the past and its impact on the present and future, Edwards College students make their mark in the fields of history and communication.

Impressing the SC Press  

Brittany ShaughnessyThe South Carolina Press Association (SCPA) holds annual collegiate awards, recognizing student journalists from around the state. This year, CCU students won big.

    Brittany Shaughnessy, sophomore communication major with a concentration in journalism, took first place in the Series of Articles category for her pieces on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and its guidance on Coastal Carolina University policies.

    Shaughnessy attributes her success to her work on CCU’s newspaper, The Chanticleer.

    “When you first join the newspaper you write campus-related pieces, but the selection that won best series of articles was actually my first investigative piece beyond CCU. I feel like this story was a stepping stone for me,” says Shaughnessy.

    Gwen Fowler, lecturer in the Department of Communication, Media and Culture and adviser to The Chanticleer, describes the paper as student-centered. Of Shaughnessy as assistant editor, Fowler says, “She’s very interested in print journalism and has a very bright future.”

    Shaughnessy is grateful for the opportunities provided from working on the paper, but also for her involvement with the communication program and its relationship with The Chanticleer.

    “Being a part of the communication program has been helpful. The professors are invested in their students, and the faculty is supportive of the paper,” says Shaughnessy. “The journalism program may be small,‌but the people in it are passionate and want us to have the opportunities that will get us out there.”

    Communication majors Lauren Krahling, senior, and Ian Brooking, sophomore, also won SCPA awards, taking third place for Issue Design and Sports Story, respectively.

    The recipients were recognized at the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College Awards and accepted their awards at the 2017 SCPA Collegiate Meeting and Awards Presentation in April at Francis Marion University.

    Fowler is proud of each of the students who placed in the SCPA: “I am really happy we are bringing some awards home to CCU.”

By Chelsea Thomas
Photos courtesy of SC Press Association

 History Meets Science

    Michael Mistler, a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program (MALS), presented his paper, “Beyond Eugenics: Disability and Reprogenetics in the Modern Era” at two conferences in Spring 2017 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and at East Tennessee State University.

    His work traces the history of eugenics (the defunct study of enhancing the human race through genetics) through the early 1900s, articulating how some modern gene-editing technologies might be a new strain of eugenics.

    “For me, when you start talking about genetic qualities, you start getting into gender, racial and disability studies,” explains Mistler.

    Mistler’s interest in this subject is close to home as the father of two children with autism. He reflects on tests doctors conducted on his pregnant wife to predict whether their children would have autism, arguing that typical medical protocols can be problematic on a humanist level.

    “These aren’t speculative possibilities. They’re happening right now,” says Mistler.

    The interdisciplinary nature of MALS enabled Mistler to examine the echoes of eugenics in modern technology while remaining embedded in his history background.

    In the fall, Mistler will continue his research on racial pseudoscience and eugenics in a Ph.D. program at Birmingham University in England. Now that gene editing is no longer science fiction, Mistler emphasizes the human consequences of these advancements.

    “It could be great,” says Mistler. “We could cure thousands of diseases, but we might open up a Pandora’s box that we can’t close.”

By Maggie Nichols

 In Formation

    Picture this: It’s the third day of battle in the hot summer sun. You’re hungry and tired and on the losing side. When the general asks you for one more big move, you line up with fellow soldiers on either side of you to make one mad dash across the longest three-quarter mile field in the world, cannons firing around you into this open territory. You run, you duck, you keep moving forward, and your odds aren’t good.

    This is what Matthew McDonough, CCU lecturer of history, and Brandon Palmer, CCU professor of history, asked eight students to imagine as they stood on the maintained grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park. They stood in battle formation where, more than 150 years ago, the Confederacy lost the Battle of Gettysburg in the failed assault of Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863. More than 6,000 men lost their lives charging through open fire in a last-ditch attempt to pierce Union lines.‌

    “We understood how exhausted the soldiers were, how scared they must have been with artillery firing overhead,” says William Corbett, senior history major. “It puts things in a different perspective.”

    Over eight days and across three states during CCU’s spring break, this upper-level history class visited four battlefields, including Antietam in Maryland and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, as well as Civil War museums and archives such as the Museum of the Civil War Soldier in Petersburg, Va., and the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pa.   “This is about empathy,” says McDonough. “I wanted students to CCU students re-enact Pickett’s Chargeexperience the history by physically seeing it, by walking the battlefields, by seeing the monuments that were put up at the turn of the century. It’s a closer way to understand history.”

    Trevor McKnight, senior history major, says that visiting the battlefields was a visceral experience, but for him, nowhere was as emotionally charged as Bloody Lane at Antietam, a road so worn by wagon travel that it became a natural trench between enemy lines. More than 150 years later, the lines of defense on each side still mark the territory where nearly 5,600 men died over the course of one morning.

    “Going to these places and imagining what happened right where you’re standing,” says McKnight, “it’s intense.”

    McDonough first conceptualized this class a few years ago after visiting the Confederate White House in Richmond, Va., and being shocked to find the museum presenting history in a way that argued the war was fought over states’ rights. Most glaringly absent in the museum was any mention of slavery or even the slaves who would have worked in the house.

    “For much of American history after the Civil War from 1880 until the 1990s, the understanding was that it was a tragic mistake, but no one was guilty,” explains McDonough. “If you look at the evidence, that wasn’t the case, but no one wants to claim that my great-grandfather fought for slavery.”

    Corbett also notes the long-lasting relevance and the emotional intensity still associated with this history.

    “Pro-Confederate museums are going away now, but if you go near where the battles took place, people are still choosing sides. Outside of Antietam, there are still Confederate flags flying.”

    McDonough says there are more changes in memorialization to come, however.

    “We’re living in a transitional time. When we went to the Confederate White House this time, only a few years later, it was totally different, a total top down restructuring,” he says. “Many of the museums we went to are actually opening up and dealing with slavery.”

    Visiting historic memorials and battlefields brings McDonough’s vision for this class to fulfillment, as students now are active participants in the new ways history is remembered and how this critical story is told in the future.

By Maggie Nichols
Photos by Matthew McDonough and Brandon Palmer

Preserving Local Culture   

History came off the page this spring as a group of students experienced learning on the farm rather than in the classroom.

    Jack Roper, teaching associate in the Department of History, offered a course titled “Local History Preservation” focusing on Freewoods Farm, a 40-acre living farm museum in the Burgess communuity that replicates life on small Southern family farms owned and/or operated by African- Americans between 1865-1900. Students in the experiential learning class focused on the history and culture of the farm with a special emphasis on heightening its impact and relevance for current and future visitors. 

    History majors Brandon Stone, a junior; Kierston Camby, a sophomore; Marie Romano, a senior; and Meghan Stickler, a junior chemistry major, participated in the course, which included frequent visits to the farm, research on the time period within a local context and interviews with owners and employees.

    Coursework involved creating presentations on potential farm-related projects including an internship program, a marketing campaign and a summer camp for children. Students delivered these presentations at the Phi Alpha Theta induction ceremony in April.

By Sara Sobota