Student Researchers Present at Harvard International Conference
by Kristina Pierson
History majors Anna Stoutenburg (B.A. ’19) and Hope Ketcham-Geeting (B.A. ’18) headed to Harvard in January to present research at the Harvard University National Collegiate Research Conference. Both Stoutenburg and Ketcham-Geeting expressed a deep gratitude for their faculty sponsors, Dr. Erik Benson and Dr. Martin Spence, and the help they provided in preparing the research for the conference.
"We left the conference feeling like our history professors had gone above and beyond to offer us every resource," Ketcham-Geeting said, "and we felt like they genuinely cared about seeing us succeed."
In Stoutenburg's paper, "The History of American Anti-Intellectualism and Ideology in the Form of Conspiracy Theories in Twenty-First Century American Film," she sought to build on the work of historian Richard Hofstadter to make it more applicable for a modern audience. She did so by linking his ideas from "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" to conspiratorial views in modern film.
"Generally, studying cultural history is enriching because of the different perspectives it offers and the clear ways it is relevant to contemporary life," Stoutenburg said. "It is amazing to think that God has presented me with the opportunities that I have been granted. God has given me both a mind and a passion for research that I am lucky enough to be able to put to use."
Stoutenburg was honored and excited to have been chosen to present at the Harvard conference, even more so knowing she would be able to go alongside fellow student Ketcham-Geeting, who graduated from Cornerstone in December 2018.
Ketcham-Geeting's research investigated Anna Coleman Watts Ladd, a sculptor who used her art to help injured soldiers during World War I by creating prosthetic masks for those who became disfigured in the line of duty.
"Ladd was able to offer not only a physical healing, but a humanitarian connection as she built lasting relationships with these men," said Ketcham-Geeting.
The compassion displayed by her research subject is a large part of what makes Ketcham-Geeting passionate about her own work and is something she hopes to contribute to the field of history herself as she moves forward in her education and career as a graduate student at the University College of London this coming fall.
"I believe that my faith is most evident in my academic and career goals in the desire I have to make museums a place where healing and storytelling happen," said Ketcham-Geeting. "I think the field [of museum studies] at present is lacking a lot when it comes to its ability to serve underprivileged and minorities groups. As a Christian, I seek to be a part of this healing and reconciliation in my field."