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April 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

History Awards 2017 Eckes Prize to Grace Konyar

Grace Konyar at 2017 commencement, wearing hat and gown in front of the Convo

Grace Konyar

The History Department awarded Grace Konyar the 2017 Eckes Prize in History. The prize is an annual cash prize of $5,000 awarded to the graduating senior History major with the highest overall GPA.

Emeritus Professor Al Eckes established the prize to recognize superior academic achievement among history majors.

Konyar graduated this spring 2017, majoring in History through the Honors Tutorial College. She enrolled at Ohio University set on pursuing a History major. Asked about the motivation for pursuing History, she referred back to her AP European History teacher during her senior year of high school. “He taught class like a college lecture and made class enjoyable to attend. He made us realize that history is not just facts, but interesting stories.”

Original Research | Empowering Popularity: The Fuel Behind a Witch-Hunt

As a History HTC major, Konyar was required to produce a senior thesis. Titled “Empowering Popularity: The Fuel Behind a Witch-Hunt,” her thesis offered a comparative study of the Suffolk witch-hunts and the Salem witch trials. More specifically, Konyar’s thesis delves into how Matthew Hopkins and Cotton Mather took advantage of their respective witch-hunts in order to gain popularity and prestige within their communities.

Most of the original sources that Konyar used were trial documents, indictments, pamphlets, books, and speeches. For the Suffolk witch-hunts and information on Matthew Hopkins, she went to The National Archives-Kew (United Kingdom), the East Sussex Record Office, and the Suffolk Record Office. While there, Konyar photographed the documents she was using. For the Salem sources, she utilized digital repositories. Dr. Sarah Kinkel, Assistant Professor of History, supervised the thesis.

Coursework on Early U.S. Republic, Italian Renaissance

Asked about a few of her favorite History courses, Konyar cited Dr. Brian Schoen‘s Early U.S. Republic (HIST 3008), Dr. Michele Clouse‘s Italian Renaissance course (HIST 3560), and Kinkel’s Atlantic History course (HIST 3000).

“I am incredibly interested in the early U.S. Republic and the founding fathers,” she said, “so Schoen’s course was one of the most interesting classes I was able to take.”  Konyar enrolled in the Italian Renaissance course the same semester that she did the Rome study-abroad course. For her, “learning the historical significance of some of the people and places that I was going to really made my trip even better.”

Konyar was particularly inspired by Clouse’s offer to create a project for her final assignment.

“I was able to get creative with history and make a board game based off of the medieval towers of Italy with a 3D printer,” she said.

It was, however, Kinkel’s course on Atlantic history that inspired her focus on her thesis topic. “Dr. Kinkel was an amazing lecturer and her course was incredibly thought provoking,” Konyar recalls. “The comparative nature of Atlantic history intrigued me and added a new perspective to a lot of the topics I had learned about in other courses.”

As an HTC student, a significant amount of Konyar’s coursework was in the form of tutorials, one-on-one courses with professors around an agreed subject and topic. Two of her favorite tutorials (although she “thoroughly enjoyed all of them”) were the early U.S. Republic tutorial with Schoen and her Women in the United States tutorial with Dr. Jeanne Gleich-Anthony ’08Ph.D.

History: A Useful Major?

For Konyar, being a History HTC major helped her address situations differently.

“I now try to gather the facts and interpret them before making any conclusions, and I try to remain unbiased during a situation.” Konyar says that a History major has shown her in practice how there are always two or more sides to any story, and “only through analysis can one truly understand the relationship.”

Being a History major helped Konyar provide context for other courses. During her time at OHIO, she also pursued an English minor.

“My history classes helped me understand the historical situations in which these authors were writing. But also vice versa, my English classes helped me better understand how society viewed the political events of their time period.”

Advice: ‘Take a Class You Have Always Wanted to Learn More About’

Konyar’s advice to incoming and other OHIO students is straight forward.

“Take a class that you have always wanted to learn more about.”  In college, she says, one is able to take history classes on whatever interests you, and it gives you a completely different experience with history than what you experienced in high school.

As a parting thought, Konyar says she has “never taken a history class here that hasn’t completely interested me and made me want to go to class and learn…. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of reading or writing the history program entails. As long as you are taking classes that interest you, doing the work will just come naturally because you will want to learn more about the topics.”

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