History Department to host 16th Annual Project Symposium

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Amanda Paladino, Features Editor 

What do superheroes and history have in common?

This year marks the 16th Annual History Project Symposium, which is superhero themed. The event will be from 6:30-9:20 in Deperno Hall 208B on Wednesday, April 13th.

Superhero storylines have appealed to the masses for decades, attracting all ages with tales of action and excitement. However, the purpose of this year’s theme for the History Project Symposium runs deeper than this.

Dr. Cash, a history professor, believes a big reason individuals are so attracted to superhero stories is the perpetual battle between good and evil. Superheroes are often conflicted by these elements existing within themselves, and fight this battle while learning how to use their own powers.

“These are themes that we all have to cope with in our lives,” Cash said. “By extension, these are also fundamental themes in human history.  I felt that the theme of Superheroes would offer a window on history itself.”

The History Project Symposium provides an innovative avenue for students to combine their interests in local history by choosing a topic that connects with the theme each year.

“There’s plenty of room for students to follow their own interests,” Cash said.

Unlike a report on existing knowledge, students’ presentations develop and share original context.

“This project is not like any other Senior Project,” said senior Alexis Holmer.

The Symposium is about discovering things previously unknown, both for the students presenting and for those who attend. This year’s two panels will discuss “Forces of Good And Evil” as well as “Hidden Powers.” History students put extensive and ongoing research into their topics, working to create presentations rich with meaning.

“With a project like this, one does not stop working,” senior Adam Tomblin said. “I have been working on this almost daily for over a year.”

Tomblin’s project, “Fairies, Fury, and Freedom: The Struggle for LGBT Equality in Central New York” aims to shed light on the local LGBT equality movement.

“I believe that the best justice for the greater LGBT rights movement is to know where we come from to know where we need to go,” Tomblin said.

His research brings to life the stories of three individuals previously unknown, while simultaneously telling a greater story of the deserved freedoms for the LGBT community.

For history students, their commitment and devotion reflects a personal connection they develop to this long-term project.

“Knowing that I am trying to do justice for my community through research helps motivate me for this,” said Tomblin. “It is not about me, it is about them.”

Patrick Garrett, a history major and senior, has played soccer since he was three years old. His project, “The Pitch that Brings Communities Together: Soccer and Central New York” explores the sport in the local area and how refugees have impacted the game.

“My project is about how soccer helps to bring communities together and create bonds with people of different cultures,” Garrett said. “Soccer also helps refugees that move to the area, like Bosnians and Africans, assimilate to American culture.”

Holmer has grown up locally and has always been interested in the Utica’s immigrant and refugee community. In beginning her research, the Bosnian community stood out to her. However, what was even more striking was what wasn’t documented.

“All the sources and articles I read always talked about men’s experiences and the family as a whole. Nothing specific was devoted to Bosnian women,” Holmer said. “Mothers are the backbones to Bosnian families, but no one really acknowledges it. So, I decided my project needed to talk about Bosnian mothers.”

Her project, “Undiscovered Superheroes:  Majkes and Bosnian Crypto-Matriarchy in Utica” aims to give a silent portion of the community a voice.

“It’s about speaking out for Bosnian women who get stereotyped and who are truly unknown to the rest of the community,” Holmer said.

As Spiderman’s archenemy Dr.Octopus once said, “Intelligence is a privilege, and it needs to be used for the greater good of people.”

Additional presentation topics will include Frankfort’s Italian immigrants, globalization and Boonville, Utica’s organized crime, and testing in Gloversville and New Hartford schools.

All students and members of the community are welcomed to attend the 16th Annual History Symposium, absorb pioneering knowledge and walk away enlightened on the vast local history of the very ground we stand on.

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