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English graduate wins outstanding master's thesis award

November 12, 2007

Contact: Donna McCracken, 217/206-6716, dmccr1@uis.edu

SPRINGFIELD -- Denise Howard Long has won the University of Illinois at Springfield's Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2006-07 academic year. Her thesis – titled "The Breadwinner in Post-World War II American Literature: Constructing Masculinity at Midcentury" – was chosen from among eight theses and projects nominated by graduate departments at the university.

Long's work incorporates research in psychology and cultural studies to explore the construction of masculinity in American literature during the years following World War II. The focus is on male protagonists in works by John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates, set during the suburban boom of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Barbara Burkhardt, associate professor of English who chaired Long’s thesis committee, noted, "Denise's work exposes the complexities of the American breadwinner image and, even further, exposes the problematic nature of socially constructed gender roles."

Long has presented her scholarship at several regional conferences. Her paper "A Dentist No More: The Destruction of Masculinity in Frank Norris's McTeague," an examination of masculinity studies and American literature, was published in the Yearbook of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.

She received the master of arts degree in English in December 2006 and currently serves as coordinator of the UIS English Department's online B.A. program and is an adjunct faculty member in the department.

Mona Colburn, who earned a master of arts degree in Environmental Studies, and Michael Howard Kelley Jr., who earned a master of arts degree in History, received Special Merit Awards.

Colburn's thesis was titled "Vertebrate Remains from Four Localities at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky." Tih-Fen Ting, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, served as her committee chair.

Ting noted, "Mona has made a significant contribution to the field of paleobiological study and cave study with her thesis, which is part of the Paleontological Inventory Project, funded by the National Park Service.  She made several important discoveries, including a number of Pleistocene mammals that had not been documented in the Mammoth Cave System before. At an intellectual level, her thesis contributes to our understanding of the natural and geological history of central Kentucky.  At a practical level, she provides the National Park Service with much-needed information about the extent of Mammoth Cave's 'non-renewable' resources (fossil remains)."

Kelley's thesis, "How Many Barrels Are Too Many?: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, 1960 - 1986," was a study of policy history that focused on the pivotal events surrounding the 1973 oil embargo.

Cecilia Cornell, associate professor of History who chaired his committee, noted, "Michael's work is timely and important. He has constructed both a compelling narrative and a useful analytical framework to explain a key turning point in international history. Michael carefully examines the processes involved in the formulation and implementation of oil policy. He illustrates how one can better understand organizational behavior, and why policymaking can result in unintended consequences. His work gives us insight into some of the issues the international community faces today in dealing with oil resources."

The UIS Research Board reviews nominated theses and projects and makes the final selection. Lynn Pardie, UIS associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research, said that the board was impressed by the high quality of each of the nominated reports.  "Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task," she said.

Other students who were nominated, their theses or projects, and their programs, are:  Lisa M. Bosworth (Educational Leadership), "Assessing College Readiness: A Case Study of Student Aspirations and Preparation"; Eugenio Fernandez (Management Information Systems), "Health Care Information Technology Diffusion: The Impact of HER Legislation and Interoperability Certification on Adoption"; Teresa Sharp Holton (Individual Option), "Land of Other: A Memoir"; Dorothy L. Johnson (Human Services), "Traditions of the Village: Preserving African American Families and Communities through Traditional Practices"; and Vishal D. Parikh (Computer Science), "RSS - Really Simple Syndication."

All eight students will be honored at a reception to be held early in the 2008 spring semester.

Research Board members are Pardie, who serves as chair; UIS faculty members Jason Barker, Jeffrey Decker, Nithya Karuppaswamy, and Chris Mooney; and Lenore Killam, staff in UIS' College of Public Affairs and Administration.



The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs: 21 bachelorís, 20 masterís, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.

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