FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               Date:  December 4, 2002

                                                                                                Contact: Cheryl D. Peck


History graduate wins outstanding master’s thesis award



SPRINGFIELD – Laura E. Johnson, who graduated from UIS last spring with a master’s degree in history, has won the Outstanding Master’s Thesis award for the 2001-02 academic year. Her thesis, “Hopi Lamps and Jackrabbit Ashtrays,” offers a material culture analysis of the work of Mary Colter, an architect whose projects profoundly affected the sense of the southwest style of design and established “immersion environments” as an approach to creating experiences for tourists.

The UIS Research Board was impressed by the extraordinary range of scholarship Johnson brought to bear on her analysis, according to Harry Berman, associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research.  Her thesis has been submitted as UIS’ nominee for the Distinguished Thesis Award of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools.

Deborah Roese, who received a master’s degree in communication last spring, received a Special Merit award for her thesis, Cherchez L ‘Homme:  Thelma and Louise and Women’s Friendship as Resistance to Patriarchy.  Drawing on her encyclopedic knowledge of film, Roese made a persuasive argument that friendships between women are almost invariably portrayed through the distorting lens of what she terms “the male gaze.”

She provided insightful readings of many films and pointed out in witty and lucid prose the subtle ways in which friendships between women are devalued.  Roese takes the movie



Thelma and Louise as the exception that proves the rule, highlighting the way that film violates unspoken norms about the nature of friendship between women.

Berman said the board was impressed by the high quality of all the reports and faced a challenging task in selecting the top one among the seven nominated by graduate departments. “Each of the submitted theses was a credit to our students and our faculty,” he said.

Other graduates whose theses were nominated were Constance Wagner, human services/gerontology; Terry Hogg, human services/child, family and community services; Joseph Tieman, educational leadership; Harold Wagner, management information systems; and Elise Ransdell, computer science.

All seven students will be honored at a reception in February.

Research board members are James Hall, Rosina Neginsky, Daniel Matthews, Hilary Frost-Kumpf, Barbara Ferrara, and Harry Berman, who serves as chair.  Deb Koua serves as staff to the board.  For purposes of selection of the Outstanding Master’s Thesis, the board was joined by emeritus professors Robert Crowley and Norman Hinton.