Paid Research Opportunity for Students: History UROPs, Summer 2017

Are you interested in doing paid research over the summer? Do you want to expand your CV and skills? The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) scheme gives undergraduate students in the middle years of their degree (i.e. not first or final year students) the chance to work on real research projects alongside academic researchers, contributing to the creation of knowledge. UROP placements last six weeks over the summer break and are paid. Students receive a bursary of £1,320.

This year the Department of History has three exciting opportunities:

  1. Framing political issues in English Civil War propaganda.

    Supervisor: Dr Rachel Foxley

  1. Climate Change Diplomacy: a Study of President Barack Obama’s rhetoric.

    Supervisor: Dr Mara Oliva

  1. From Beijing to Hanoi: the Cold War in Asia through the pages of Time and Life magazines.

    Supervisor: Dr Mara Oliva

Full details of the projects can be found below.  For more information, and to apply, contact Dr Rachel Foxley (r.h.foxley@reading.ac.uk) and Dr Mara Oliva (m.oliva@reading.ac.uk ) or visit the UROP 2017 Placements page.

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Framing political issues in English Civil War propaganda

Supervisor: Dr Rachel Foxley (r.h.foxley@reading.ac.uk)

The Placement Project
Framing theory is widely used to analyse the way in which politicians and the media ‘frame’ contentious contemporary issues. This project will ask whether it offers insights when applied to the civil war propaganda of royalists and parliamentarians in 1640s England. Historians have emphasized the use of printed propaganda in the 1640s, and some have considered how differently the two sides presented individual issues such as the ‘rule of law’ or the Irish Rebellion of 1641; they have also explored the differing political theories of royalists and parliamentarians. However, the less tangible ‘frames’ which may have been used to present multiple different issues in a way which fostered or reinforced a coherent royalist or parliamentarian world-view have received less attention. Parliament’s lengthy ‘Book of Declarations’ gathered an extensive series of public statements by Charles and by Parliament, often responding to each other and so addressing the same issues. These statements will be analysed for key language and arguments used to ‘frame’ multiple different issues, paying particular attention to the language of emotion and morality (‘affection’, ‘duty’ etc) and to key concepts such as obedience, liberty, and rights. This will shed light on the dynamics of political polarization, the effectiveness of propaganda, and the question of how divided the nation was in its political assumptions. This is a stand-alone project, but is intended to act as a feasibility case-study for a broader project on political framing and the language of emotion in the early Stuart and civil war period.
Tasks
In the first week the student will read some key secondary literature on framing in political communication, and some essential background on the political events and political context of the Long Parliament and the beginning of the English Civil War. This reading will be supplemented later on in the placement as required (approximately 20% of the placement overall). The student will then move on to the primary source, the Book of Declarations, which can be downloaded from Early English Books Online and read onscreen. Reading and analysing the documents contained in this collection will form the bulk of the placement, with 60% of the placement time spent on reading the primary texts and making notes, and 20% spent on analysing the results. The aim is to tabulate several key terms, issues, or metaphors used to ‘frame’ political debate in the Book of Declarations and write a short summary of conclusions about the use of one or two of these key ideas by the two sides to ‘frame’ political debate. The supervisor and student will discuss which key terms, issues, and metaphors to track and analyse in regular meetings during the placement, as different terms may become more or less prominent in different phases of the propaganda being studied.
To apply send your CV and a cover letter to Dr Rachel Foxley by Friday, 31 March, 2017. Interview date: 18 or 19 April 2017.

 

Climate Change Diplomacy: a Study of President Barack Obama’s rhetoric.

Supervisor: Dr Mara Oliva (m.oliva@reading.ac.uk )

UROP for Students 2

The Placement Project
This project will allow a student to develop valuable research skills and to partake in key learning opportunities through playing a role in my broader research project entitled: “the United States, China and the New Climate Change Diplomacy”. This work explores how the evolution of global climate politics has redefined power relations between the two most influential actors of the 21st century: the US and China. The student employed on this project will develop key research findings about climate change rhetoric in the United States. The project will focus on President Obama’s speeches from 2008 to 2016. The student will collate evidence on how the President’s rhetoric portrayed climate change, presented US plans and policies and addressed domestic and foreign audiences. These will be explored by using Aristotle’s three primary modes of persuasive appeal, namely ethos (appeal to one’s character and credibility), pathos (appeal to a range of emotions) and logos (appeal to reason and logic). This primary research links to the second part of the project, which involves synthesising secondary literature on both Presidential rhetoric and diplomacy. Findings will be presented at the American Politics Group annual conference in January 2018 and written up to feed into a co-authored article to be written in the spring/summer of 2018. They will also feed into a larger project the PI is developing (for submission to AHRC) on US-China relations in the 21st century.
Tasks
Using the American Presidency Project archive (free online), the successful candidate, supported by the PI, will: (i) design and construct a simple database with specified eligibility criteria (10%); (ii) enter eligible sources into the database (10%); (iii) sample these sources, identifying common themes and rhetorical strategies in the President’s speeches (40%). The student will also explore the topic historiographically, summarising secondary literature on presidential rhetoric and diplomacy (40%).
To apply send your CV and cover letter to Dr Mara Oliva by Friday, 31 March, 2017. Interview date, 19 April 2017.

 

From Beijing to Hanoi: the Cold War in Asia through the pages of Time and Life magazines

Supervisor: Dr Mara Oliva (m.oliva@reading.ac.uk )

UROP for Students 3

The Placement Project
This project will allow a student to develop valuable research skills and partake in key learning opportunities through playing a role in my broader US political history research work and network. I am currently writing a monograph on the influence of US public opinion on US-China relations during the 1950s. The student employed on this project will collate evidence on how Time and Life magazines portrayed the Cold War in Asia. The two publications were the most read weeklies in the US at the time. Life was a picture magazine of politics, culture, and society that dominated American visual perceptions in the era before television; Time summarised and interpreted the week’s news for upscale Americans. Together they had a circulation of more than 20 millions copies a week. Their editor, Henry Luce, born in China to missionary parents, used both outlets to promote what he thought US foreign policy should be in Asia and prevent the establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing. Yet, historians have still to explore the influence these magazines had on Americans’ perceptions of the Cold War in Asia. The placement will address this gap in the literature by carrying out a quantitative and qualitative analysis of these publications from 1953 to 1960. This primary research links to the second part of the project, which includes synthesising secondary literature on US-China relations within the context of the history of the Cold War.
Tasks
Using Time and Life archives available for free online, the successful candidate, supported by the PI, will: (i) design and construct a simple database with specified eligibility criteria (10%); (ii) enter eligible sources into the database (15%); (iii) sample these sources, identifying common themes in the portrayal of the Cold War in Asia (35%). The student will also explore the topic historiographically, summarising secondary literature on US foreign policy in Asia during early Cold War (40%)
To apply send your CV and cover letter to Dr Mara Oliva by Friday, 31 March, 2017. Interview date, 19 April 2017.

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