Eastern Connecticut State University Student Emily Komornik of Shelton Conducts Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research and creative activities at Eastern Connecticut State University provide opportunities for students to work closely with faculty mentors on research or creative work.

Eastern student Emily Komornik ’16 of Shelton has been participating in an undergraduate research project related to her major. Her research during the summer of 2015 included accessing the Jonathan Edwards Collection at Yale University’s Divinity Library. Komornik’s major is History and English.

The foundation of her current research began her sophomore year after taking a historical methods course with History Professor Caitlin Carenen. The final project for the class was a research paper based on a primary source document. Komornik chose to write about Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” due to her interest in religious history — the Great Awakening in particular.

She submitted her original project for consideration for the J. Eugene Smith Library Research Award Scholarship and won. At that point, Professor Carenen and Komornik discussed expanding the research paper into an honors thesis. The proposal and literature review for her thesis was approved in April. Komornik plans to complete her work during the fall 2015 semester.

“My thesis focuses on the rhetoric of two movements, the Great Awakening, a religious movement in colonial New England which lasted from 1737 to 1745, and the American Revolution. I explore how these movements compare in terms of the use of rhetoric, as well as the types of publications utilized as strategies for its use. So far, I have found that the propaganda of the American Revolution, including newspaper articles, speeches, pamphlets, as well as the sermons of the ministers of the Great Awakening, are both deeply rooted in appeals to emotion. Harnessing the power of language and linguistic persuasion has proven to be an important strategy for everything from propaganda to presidential speeches,” said Komornik.

According to Carenen, “Emily is extremely gifted and her project is an exciting and ambitious one. Even though it’s set in the 18th century, the question she is asking — “how does rhetoric inspire rebellion?”–has relevance for us today. As a historian of American religious history, I have helped Emily fine-tune her project and it’s been a pleasure to work with her.”

During the spring 2016 semester, Komornik will be writing a critical research paper as an independent study with English Professor Maureen McDonnell. The focus of the paper is three Shakespearian tragedies – Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear – and the interplay of Catholic ghosts and “pagan” representations throughout.

Komornik plans to present both research papers at Eastern’s undergraduate research and art conference in the spring. She also intends to apply to other research conferences in the spring, including the Council of Public Liberals Arts Colleges (COPLAC).

After graduating in May 2016, Komornik is considering pursuing either a master’s degree or Ph.D. in history, with an interest in publishing and archival work, or a law degree with a focus in employment or appellate law.

“My research has developed into a much more complex research topic than I started with, but if anything, my passion for the subject has grown. I believe I am so interested in the primary documents of the Great Awakening and of the American Revolution because they inspired controversial, extreme rebellions. I am fascinated by the way that words can hold the power to influence people so profoundly,” said Komornik.

-Anne Pappalardo

Thoresen Scholarship for individual research projects

Once again the Jean H. Thoresen ECSU-AAUP Scholarship is being offered to ECSU Undergraduate students who are conducting independent or collaborative research projects. Up to $500 in scholarship money is available.

For more details on this scholarship, brought to you by Eastern’s branch of the American Association of University Professors, consult the website here – or go to www.ecsuaaup.org and click on the tab “Thoresen Scholarship” at the top. Or, you can ask an Academic Department Secretary for the informational Thoresen Brochure that describes all of the application requirements. Deadline is September 21 (3rd Monday of September, 2015).

This is what we call historical perspective

ECSU History major Tim Panzarella published an op-ed in the Hartford Courant (2 September 2015) contextualizing the current, sometimes heated, debate over immigrants in America. As Tim’s case study of Italian Americans in Connecticut one hundred years ago shows, History may not repeat itself exactly, but it often rhymes. Those interested in a broader perspective on immigration and its place in American history should read Tim’s piece here.

Congratulations Tim, for providing some needed historical context.

Tim Panzarella



Congratulations to Miles Wilkerson and Bethany Niebanck for presenting at Eastern’s student research conference this past weekend.

CREATE presenters Bethany Niebanck and Miles Wilkerson

Miles presented “Nunca Olvide: Reframing Historical Discourse on Cuban Exile Terrorism”, while Bethany presented “The Harp, the Stars, and the Dollar: Irish Immigrants and their Motivations for Fighting in the Union Army during the American Civil War.”

NEHA 2015 or bust!

Ian Carey, Kyle Donovan, Melissa Zablonski, and Dr. Roland Clark travelled to Worcester State University on Saturday for the New England Historical Association’s semi-annual conference. Melissa presented a paper entitled “The Pension Widow: Defining the Criteria for Women in the Revolutionary War Pension Process,” which met with enthusiastic acclaim from a large audience. The paper is based on Melissa’s Honors thesis, which she wrote this year under the direction of Prof. Barbara Tucker.

Student attendees at NEHA 2015. From left: Ian Carey, Kyle Donovan, Melissa Zablonski.



Phi Alpha Theta induction dinner

Congratulations to the 2015 inductees of Eastern’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society!

Eastern PAT inductees

Front row from left: Quanece Williams, Bethany Niebanck, Sister Kateri Ludick, Annie Chozick, Lauren Grenier.
Back row from left: Kyle Donovan, Morgan Considine, Emily Komornik, Richard Ashley.

Inductees not pictured: Sabreena Croteau, Talia Erris, Hannah Mamaclay, Melissa Ann Rodgers, and Connor Walsh.

History major Sonya Beetham wins research grant to study Picasso

During the fall 2014 semester, Eastern Connecticut State University student Sonya Beetham ’15, a history major from Montville, received a project grant that supported her research into the life of Pablo Picasso. Titled “Pablo Picasso in Time and Place,” Beetham conducted her research under the mentorship of History Professor Roland Clark.

Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

“I am very excited about Sonya’s research project,” said Clark. “She has a solid grasp of how historians approach artists and their work, and her project draws together skills from a variety of disciplines. I am looking over Sonya’s shoulder while she is researching and writing her paper, and am learning a lot about Picasso and cubism in the process.”

In regard to her research topic, Beetham said, “The topic of ‘Pablo Picasso in Time and Place’ was first brought to my attention by Professor Clark, who developed in me an interest in artists and the social and political contexts in which they work. I wanted to continue to work with Professor Clark, so we created an independent study that allowed me to research some of the art he presented in his classes.” She continued, “Picasso was one of the first names that came to mind because of my lack of knowledge about him, as well as his primitivist and cubist works.”

“Having grants available for students to pursue research is crucial because it gives them access to unique sources, experts and archives that they cannot find anywhere else,” said Clark. “This sort of research helps develop skills that students like Sonya will use throughout their working lives.”

When asked about being selected to receive an Eastern project grant, Beetham said, “I was very excited when I found out I was chosen. I heard it was a very competitive grant; I was nervous just to submit my application, but I’m happy I did.”

Limited funds are available for Eastern students to help cover the costs of research or a creative activity project. These activities are defined at Eastern as “Original intellectual or creative contributions to the student’s discipline carried out in conjunction with a faculty mentor, culminating in formal review of that work through presentations, exhibitions and/or publications.”

Jared Leitzel interns with Willimantic Textile and History Museum

Senior History major Jared Leitzel is completing a Spring 2015 internship at the Windham Textile and History Museum in Willimantic, CT.

Surrounded by History

Jared helped digitize and catalog a variety of documents and artifacts in the collections of the museum.

Intern Jared Leitzel digitizing sources at the Windham Textile Museum.

For general information on History internships at Eastern, go to the Internships page.
For news on specific History internship opportunities at Eastern, click on the Internships category.