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2013-2014

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  • Thumbnail for 'Come to virtue' : institutional responses to poverty and prostitution in Philadelphia 1800-1830
    'Come to virtue' : institutional responses to poverty and prostitution in Philadelphia 1800-1830 by Langstaff, Alexander

    I seek to compare poverty and prostitution as theoretical and institutional corollaries of early 19th century urban society. The underlying intention of this comparison is to relate poverty and prostitution as separate, but concurrent, categories of immorality in the early American consciousness. In doing so, I will explore three central questions: i) How were varieties of social marginality framed in the antebellum city through philanthropic institutions? ; ii) Is the historiographical social control thesis for institutional ‘containment’ of societal deviants consistent with the experiences of those within such institutions? ; and, iii) How successful were private and public institutions in their reformatory aspirations during the early national period? In comparing and contrasting poverty and prostitution in Philadelphia as a heuristic foil for these questions, I will concentrate on welfare institutions, for their prerogative was articulating and actualizing these categories into reformatory principles of normalcy. To this end, I hope to demystify the intentions and outcomes of the early urban institutional experience by considering the Magdalen Society and the city almshouse in their period of formative antebellum development.

  • Thumbnail for In search of the Granary of Rome : environmental decline in Roman North Africa
    In search of the Granary of Rome : environmental decline in Roman North Africa by Heberlein, Will Robinson

    Visitors to North Africa have long noticed a sharp contrast between the lush landscape described in ancient texts which supported Roman cities like Leptis Magna, and the more arid, barren landscape of North Africa today. Environmental historians have traditionally attributed this contrast to a decline in the extent of forests and in agricultural fertility since the start of the Roman period, brought on by an overexploitation of Rome’s natural resources. Recently, however, this model has been criticized by several post-colonial and environmental theorists, who argue that the idea of decline in North Africa is a colonial invention that allowed Europeans to exert control over North Africa’s Arab and Berber populations. This essay seeks to evaluate the history and the historiography of the North African environment, and of the Mediterranean environment more generally, to uncover the extent to which decline may have occurred. It concludes that environmental decline did indeed occur in North Africa, but the source of this decline was the Roman Empire itself. The nomadic Arab people of North Africa cannot be blamed for the environmental changes which took place before their arrival. At the same time, human-influenced decline must not be ignored when considering the Roman Empire’s complex legacy.

  • Thumbnail for The treachery of the Blue Books : the impact of the 1847 educational reports on Welshwomen and Welsh national identity
    The treachery of the Blue Books : the impact of the 1847 educational reports on Welshwomen and Welsh national identity by Nelson, Rosie

    During the nineteenth century, the English Parliament commissioned a series of educational reports of Wales which aimed to denigrate the nation to aid an English cultural takeover, thus ensuring cultural homogeneity within England and Wales. In the educational reports, women were used as the markers of Wales and were conflated with barbarism and bestiality. The Welsh male elites responded virulently, claiming the virtuous nature of Welshwomen, and consequently, Wales. Women were thus used as political pawns, and were tokenized, as opposed to being represented in of themselves. Following these responses, a Welsh national identity began to form which was centered around women. Wales came to be personified as a woman, thus the idealized version of Welsh womanhood was confined to such a degree that women had a very strict ideal to live up to.​