Senior Honors Theses and Awards

The Arthur Kouguell Memorial prize was established by the parents and friends of the late Arthur M. Kouguell ’73. The prize is awarded annually by the Department of History to the senior honors thesis that best represents Arthur Kouguell’s commitment to scholarly and humane values.

2023 Kouguell Prize

Congratulations to Holly Nelson, winner of the 2023 Arthur Kouguell Prize for her outstanding senior thesis, “’A Rare Standing Ovation”: Ballet Diplomacy, Russian Myth, and Black Transnationalism in the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Soviet Union Tour (1988).” 

Holly Nelson’s thesis integrates diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural history to explore the Dance Theater of Harlem’s U.S. government-sponsored tour of the Soviet Union in 1988. The tour by the Dance Theater of Harlem was unique, Nelson argues, because of the excitement it roused in the Soviet Union with performances of George Balanchine’s Firebird (set to music by Igor Stravinsky). Firebird is based on a traditional Russian tale but, Nelson continues, when performed by Black dancers, it gestured to anti-racism and social justice in ways that resonated profoundly with Soviet audiences. This thesis stands out for its focus on the understudied institution of the Dance Theater of Harlem, the intersection of dance and diplomatic histories, and a nuanced analysis of the Firebird ballet and its Soviet reception. Her research integrated many kinds of primary sources—which included include the visual as well as textual and drew from Russian- as well as English-language materials—and her interpretations are theoretically sophisticated. Finally, Nelson writes with grace and daring, making her case systematically but also blending a more traditional account with forays into fiction.  

The Committee awarded an Honorable Mention to Hanan Abdellatif for her thesis “Medicalizing Race and Gender at the Johns Hopkins Hospital: An Examination of Howard Kelly’s Life and Career.” This thesis expertly deploys historical skills by clearly framing its questions, elaborating a solid theoretical scaffolding, and shaping primary research into an original argument that links “the emergence of eugenics and scientific racism to the development of gynecology” by highlighting how Johns Hopkins gynecologist Howard Kelly’s two-tier medical practice contributed to the pernicious medicalization of Black women’s bodies.

Recent Senior Honors Theses

2022-2023 Senior Honors Theses

  • Honorable Mention
    Hanan Abdellatif (advisor: Turner)
    “Medicalizing Race and Gender at the Johns Hopkins Hospital: An Examination of Howard Kelly’s Life and Career”
  • 2023 Kouguell Prize Winner
    Holly Nelson (advisor: Makalani)
    ““A Rare Standing Ovation”: Ballet Diplomacy, Russian Myth, and Black Transnationalism in the Theatre of Harlem’s Soviet Union Tour”
  • Benjamin Schlesinger (advisor: John Marshall)
    ““To Suffer as a Traitor to the Kingdom of England”: Trial of the Duke of Hamilton”
  • Jessica Shaffer (advisor: Pearsall)
    “Sinful Creatures: Animals and Magic in the Salem Witch Trials, 1692-1693”
  • Jane Slaughter (advisor: Harms)
    “Nuclear Ties: An Investigation into the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl Accidents”

2021-2022 Senior Honors Theses

  • Lauren Anthony (advisor: Furstenberg)
    “Blood Ties: A study of the relationship between Johns Hopkins’ clinician-scientists and the Black Baltimorean community”
  • Grace George (advisor: Jelavich)
    “Marni Nixon and the Rise and Fall of Ghost Singing”
  • Elle Grant (advisor: Hindmarch-Watson)
    “Villainous Business: The Evolution of the Capitalist James Bond Villain”
  • 2022 Kouguell Prize Winner
    Alanna Margulies (advisor: Harms)
    “Baltimore School for the Arts and the City that Built It”
  • Joe Paul (advisor: Harms)
    “Changing the Game: U.S. Sports Reform in the Late Cold War”

2020-2021 Senior Honors Theses

  • Marjorie Bowerman (advisor:)
    “Our Very Own Goddess: The Crown and the (Un)Making of a National Mythology”
  • Jeffrey Carrano (advisor: Hanson)
    “Disease Maps of the Third Plague Pandemic: New Epidemiological Reality of a Global Society”
  • 2021 Kouguell Prize Winner
    Sophia Loughlin (advisor: Harms)
    “An Elusive Promise: Baltimore School Reform in the 1990s”
  • Sabrina Rodriguez (advisor: Harms)
    “From High Expectations to Expatriates: How the Soviet Educational Aid Program Altered Cuban Students’ Perceptions of their Country”
  • Anna Sargeantson (advisor: Shepard)
    “Visual Propaganda & Gender in Regime Legitimization: Francoist Spain, 1936-1942”
  • Benjamin Schneider (advisor:)
    “Work from Home: Johns Hopkins and Urban Redevelopment in East Baltimore”
  • Angel Zhao (advisor: W. Rowe)
    “An “American” Question: Chinese American Activism and Identity in Late 19th Century America”

2019-2020 Senior Honors Theses

  • 2020 Kouguell Prize Winner
    Heidi Hansen (adviser: Lester)
    “Prayer and Personal Identity: The Book of Hours and the Middle Class in Fifteenth-Century France”
  • Elizabeth Lomvardias (advisor: Hindmarch-Watson)
    “British Broadcasting in a Changing World: National Identity and the 1977 Report of the Committee on the Future of Broadcasting”

2018-2019 Senior Honors Theses

  • Hana Chop (advisor: Meyer-Fong)
    2019 Kouguell Prize Winner
    “In Pursuit of a New Image: The Empress Dowager Cixi on a Global Stage”
  • Abigail Greene (advisor: Pahl)
    ““The Great Patriotic War” and “The Rape of Berlin”: How Memory Laws Shape National Identity in Central and Eastern Europe”
  • Rachel Long (advisor: Morgan)
    “The Famous Nell Butler: Freedom Suits on Maryland’s Western Shore, 1770-1798”
  • Dana Murray (advisor: Mooney)
    “The Battle Over Disease Etiology Made Manifest: Contagionism and Anti-contagionism in Baltimore, 1793-1832
  • Sang June Oh (advisor: Han)
    “K-Pop: A Look at its History and the Influence Over Protest Culture in South Korea”
  • Alexandra Rice (advisor: Maciejko)
    “A Literary Look: Prostitutes and Religious Minorities in 16th Century Spain”
  • Alana Surowiec (advisor: Fissell)
    “Talk Dirty to Me: Washerwomen, Laundresses, and the Production of Cleanliness in Early Modern London”
  • Juliann Susas (advisors: Lurtz and Walters)
    “Iron Man and Captain America: Illustrations of 1960s Patriotic Ambivalence”

2017-2018 Senior Honors Theses

  • Anders Bright (adviser: Furstenberg)
    “Rebuffing Buffon: The American Philosophical Society and the Debate Over New World Climate Degeneracy”
  • Hana Chop (adviser: Meyer-Fong)
    “In Pursuit of a New Image: The Empress Dowager Cixi on a Global Stage”
  • Oscar Hairston de Amicis (adviser: Refini)
    “Calcio Storico Fiorentino: The Origins”
  • Kira Henson (adviser: Furstenberg)
    “A Complicated Sense of Sympathy: George Catlin’s Indian Gallery in America”
  • Mallika Iyer (adviser: )
    2018 Kouguell Prize Winner
    “From the Myth of Fantasy to the Myth of Certainty: French Cartography and the Mapping of Asia”
  • Sierra Love (adviser: Walters)
    “Not so Silent Minority: Filipina Immigrants to the United States Post World War II”
  • Sarah Schreib (adviser: Lurtz)
    “The Art of Persuasion: Exploring the Genre of Documentaries on the Chilean Coup”