2010 Prize Winners

Ryan Cohen

Classroom for Improvement: How Decentralization Hinders Argentine Educational Equity

Theresa Joy Hannig The Inconstant Basilica of Constantine
Robin Lam Photographing the Illusion of Austerity: Fashion Photography and Femininity in Post-WWII Britain
Simeon Newman Yacreta’, Argentina’s White Elephant: Hydroelectric Development, International Capital, and Transnational Resistance
Matthew Rietfors Patriotism versus Principles: Perspectives on the Eve of the Mexican War

Ryan Cohen
Classroom for Improvement: How Decentralization Hinders Argentine Educational Equity
Honors Seminar, IAS H102
Professor Alan Karras

Ms. Cohen’s honors thesis examines the motives, methods and results of the decentralization of Argentina’s education system following the educational reforms of President Carlos Menem beginning in 1991. As a result, Argentina’s education policy was drastically altered in response to various stimuli in the political, social, and economic environment including globalization, economic hardship, and the pressure to conform to the neoliberalist ideology advocated by prominent world powers. She collects, analyzes, and synthesizes a wealth of information and data from a variety of sources in both English and Spanish. Prof. Karras notes, “This project paper could not have been done without the library’s help … moreover, she used librarians to make contacts at other organizations and in other schools on campus. [Her thesis] is exceptional [and] beautifully written.”

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Theresa Joy Hannig
The Inconstant Basilica of Constantine
Architecture 170A
GSI Sharone Tomer

Hannig’s paper examines this famous basilica’s several shifts in cultural significance from fourth-century Roman civic work to sixteenth-century Christian symbol. Her research follows the building’s many names over time—Temple of Peace, Palace of Romulus, New Basilica, and others—through materials held by a variety of research repositories, from our Environmental Design and Architecture Visual Resource libraries to the Royal collection at the British Library. Ms. Hannig’s GSI for whose course this essay was written, observes, “I consider both [Theresa’s] hypothesis and her research methods incredibly sophisticated, particularly for a second year Architecture major,” in part because the paper moves “beyond the level of sophistication and historical depth required for the course.” Also exceptional is Hannig’s “creative and rich use of images to develop and support her hypothesis,” with substantial examination via ARTstor, Spiro, and Oxford Art Online of paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, and digital reconstructions of both the basilica and the iconography of its ruins.

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Robin Lam
Photographing the Illusion of Austerity: Fashion Photography and Femininity in Post-WWII Britain
History 101
Professor James Vernon

Robin Lam’s senior thesis argues that fashion photography of the immediate postwar years in Britain has been overlooked because of the conservativeness of the images that characterized this period. In fact, however, these images reveal the social and economic conflicts within Britain at that time. Based on analyses of a wide variety of print and microfilm sources and image collections here and abroad, she shows how women’s attitudes in the postwar decade both fed the new ultra-feminine fashion and was fueled by photographic representations of that feminism. Ms. Lam’s advisor comments, “It is the first piece of scholarly work on the rise, dissemination, and uses of fashion photography in post-war Britain…. It is a testament to her ingenuity and industry that she has carved a paper out of a diverse range of sources,” including those she discovered during research trips to the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Film Institute.

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Simeon Newman
Yacreta’, Argentina’s White Elephant: Hydroelectric Development, International Capital, and Transnational Resistance
History 101
Professor Mark Healey

Simeon Newman explores what was once touted as the largest development project ever undertaken by Argentina, the huge hydroelectric project on the Paraná River along the Argentina-Paraguay border, begun in the 1950s that neared completion in the early 1990s. He writes, “The project did end up providing a great deal of electricity to Argentina, … but the reservoir was filled only part way and the hydroelectricity plant only provided 60 percent of the electricity it was supposed to...." Newman argues that the project failed because the people affected by the project did not allow it to be finished, "a developmentalist dream that failed to live up to its promises." His professor comments that Newman wrote “a paper that is not only powerfully grounded in primary research, particularly of technical reports, disputes, and community mobilization against the dam and its effects, but also deeply informed by important theoretical works.” Newman made extensive use of the Water Resources Center Archives on campus, and interlibrary services to obtain material not at Berkeley.

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Matthew Rietfors
Patriotism versus Principles: Perspectives on the Eve of the Mexican War
UGIS 39B
Professor James Casey, Mechanical Engineering
Peter Hanff, Bancroft Library
David Farrell, Bancroft Library

Matthew Rietfors presents a very balanced and scholarly examination of the circumstances leading up to the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. He carefully describes the rationales that were offered in Congress both in support of, and against, the declaration of war which led to the annexation of considerable Mexican territory, including all of Texas, a substantial expansion of the future Confederacy, and a dramatic expression of our “manifest destiny.” Presenting the war as a definitive point in the history of the United States, Rietfors recognizes characteristic features in American foreign policy that have re-emerged in subsequent American debates contemplating such military actions. Rietfors’ instructors write, “This paper is based solidly on a careful reading of primary sources. He negotiated the vast resouces of the Bancroft Library efficiently and was able to maintain an unerring, deliberate focus on a serious question concerning US foreign relations during the first half of the 19th century.”

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