Update 6/13: Some Thoughts about the Outline and Some Questions to Answer

Research Update, 06/13


Tentative outline and thesis

The purpose of this research project is to analyze the significance of late-Qing constitutions, and to understand late-Qing constitutional movements’ political legacy. My tentative thesis suggests that the two constitutions published in early twentieth-century Qing China symbolized China’s political modernization, as China, for the first time, had a body of written fundamental laws to function as its constitution. The late-Qing constitutions are drastically different and much more progressive than Qing China’s earlier legal system constituted by the Qing Huidian. While the first version of late-Qing constitution, Principles of the Constitution, seemed a partial compromise to settle reform demands from the public, the latter Doctrines of the Constitution reflected late-Qing government’s resolve to launch reform. Doctrines of the Constitution, though failed to prevent Qing China’s downfall, facilitated the proliferation of a collective Chinese identity and sovereign unity, as the latter Republic of China’s constitution inherited the spirit of the late-Qing counterpart. The late-Qing constitution and constitutional movement reinforced China’s unity, as China in the early-twentieth century, though suffering chaos among regional warlords, remained as a nominally and constitutionally political unity.

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Diving Into William and Mary’s Past: Research Update 1

Finding a Method 

In this past week, I began searching through the Colonial Echo yearbooks for examples of racism, racial insensitivity, or offensive traditions. I am extremely grateful that members of the special collections team at Swem library put in countless hours of work scanning yearbooks to make them available in the digital archives. After searching for a few keywords in the yearbooks and newspapers in an unorganized manner, I decided the best method would be to scan through each publication in a chronological order. As I search through each publication I’ve been keeping a track of locations of offensive images or language. This week, I began looking through yearbooks. Unfortunately,  I have found some examples of racist language and offensive African-American and Native-American caricatures. I even discovered a group of students who performed minstrel shows in blackface at William and Mary.

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Abstract: Incongruence in Jefferson’s Legacy – The Controversy over the Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was constructed along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. between 1938 and 1943. Immediately after the plans for the memorial were first released, there was an uproar from the American people about the design, functionality, and location of the memorial. Historians have argued that Jefferson’s reputation was revived in the 1930s and 1940s, but the inconsistency in the interpretation of Jefferson at the time of the construction of the memorial revealed that Jefferson’s legacy was different to political leaders and the public. The debate over the design and location of the Jefferson Memorial exposed that to the American public, Jefferson’s legacy was as a man of the people, but political elites remembered Jefferson as a hero, representative of American accomplishments and prowess. Through my research, I intend to answer the following questions: How did President Roosevelt, Congress, and the people of Washington discuss the construction of the Jefferson Memorial and what do their discussions reveal about their conception of Thomas Jefferson? What does the reaction to the Jefferson Memorial plans say about the American people’s memory of Jefferson between 1936 and 1945? To answer these questions, I intend to use American newspapers (such as The Washington Post, The Washington Star, St. Louis Dispatch, and The New York Times), The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Congressional documents from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission (TJMC) to investigate the different perspectives on the memorial. The controversy surrounding the construction of the Jefferson Memorial has never been explored by historians, and my project will challenge the idea that Jefferson’s reputation has been consistently favorable since the 1930s.

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Update 3/20: Introduction to Summer Research Project

Dear all, I am thrilled to announce the commencement of my summer research project on early-twentieth-century Chinese constitutionalism. I wish you enjoyed the following introduction of my project and discussion of the topic’s historical significance.

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Summer in Review

The summer is finally over, and school is starting in less than a week. Time seems to have flown by all too quickly! Looking back over the last three months of on-and-off research, I’ve decided that I really enjoyed it and it has been a unique experience.

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