Courtney Hicks
Publish Date

On October 3rd, 2023, students from UIS presented their historical research at the Conference of Illinois History, located at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This research came from Dr. Peter Shapinsky’s HIS 486: Exhibiting Asia course, where students, Nathan Hayes, Margi Herberger, Spencer Mauch, Tristan Morrison, and Ryan Schlindwein, worked to trace the history of various Japanese artifacts in collaboration with the Illinois State Museum. Not only did these students get to research the history of their selected artifact, but they also got the opportunity to photograph their artifact for their online exhibit.

These students utilized this opportunity as a way to share their interests in Public History and Museums. Tristan Morrison, an undergraduate student who presented his research on the Japanese Matchlock Rifle, expressed his gratitude not only to Dr. Shapinsky, but to the Illinois State Museum for their guidance. Morrison also indicated how difficult it was to provide a concise, time limited presentation on research he had been conducting in the course of an entire semester. “Choosing what to talk about was a complex subject as I'd love nothing more than to sit down for an hour and go over everything that I have found. But this was a round table discussion, it was an opportunity for all of us to present what we had, not just one of us. So, we found ourselves having to pick and choose what were the most essential parts of our research. It was not easy, but it provided an exciting issue: how do you decide, through your whole semester of research and development, what is most important?” Morrison expressed.

Dr. Peter Shapinsky also shared his insight as the project facilitator and how students transitioned from in the classroom to behind a conference podium. “This was the first professional presentation for all of the students, so we covered everything from visuals to dress.  In revising, the presenting students did an excellent job honing their arguments, did additional research when necessary, and practiced making sure they were within time.  The roundtable format enabled students to have time to both get used to the conference environment by talking relatively informally and then showcasing their research.” Shapinsky also expressed gratitude for the role of the Illinois State Museum, particularly to Amanda Bryden, Dannyl Dolder, and Erika Holst, for helping guide the students working with artifacts, photography, and exhibit text! Congratulations to these students on the exciting conference presentations as well as the success of their online exhibit!

View the online exhibit Exhibiting Asia.