Students took part in the first ever History Dissertation Day at The Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham.
January can be a very stressful time for third-year students approaching the final few months of their undergraduate studies. Weighing heavy on the mind is the final year dissertation, a project over a year in the making, and the culmination of their academic studies. Despite the stress of this period, third-year History students at the University took the time to prepare posters and exhibit their work at the first ever History dissertation day, held at The Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham. Students had a fairly simple yet tricky remit: to produce an A1 visual poster outlining the aims, methods and findings of their dissertations. The exhibition showcased projects that span the range of subject specialisms on the History course at the University: Early Modern Europe, 19th and 20th century Britain, Soviet history and the USA.
The event was extremely well-attended by first and second-year History undergraduates, as well as staff and students from other areas. Visitors circulated and discussed the projects with the presenters, and one of the high points of the exhibition was the confidence with which students were able to discuss their projects and respond to questions about their research processes and their initial findings. Despite some initial reservations, the presenters all explained that the process of creating the poster and preparing for the exhibition was an extremely valuable exercise, particularly because it helped to crystallize the aims and structure of the dissertation as students approach the writing-up phase. History students in thinking about possible topics for their dissertations in future also found the event useful.
Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite posters, and at the end of the day prizes were awarded to the top three projects. It was very pleasing to see that every poster received nominations, a testament to the high-standard of the exhibition. First prize went to Sophie Wickert for her poster on ‘The Censored Eleven’, a project exploring how Warner Brothers banned a series of cartoons for their caricatured and racist representation of African Americans in 1968. Second prize was awarded to Ryan Bennett for his poster on the experience of a family relative in an internment camp in WWI. There was a tie for third place, this was shared by Jessica English for her project on fashion in mid-20th century USSR, and Hannah Wylam, who is exploring the influence of early modern witchcraft in European fairy tales. Well done to all who presented and thanks to all who came along!