A Conservative Perspective on Syngman Rhee

Check out the following research story from fellow UHPer Mark Thomas-Patterson!

This semester, I took part in the GW Institute of Korean Studies Undergraduate Research Fellowship. This is a program sponsored by the GWU Institute of Korean Studies in which participants propose to write an academic article on any topic that connects with Korea. You are then matched up with a professor who focuses on that area of study, in my case Professor Greg Brazinsky in the Elliott School. Participants them work with their mentor towards creating a final paper, and workshop with other members of the program. Finally, the fellows with the top five papers are chosen to present at a research symposium with students in a sister program and Indian University. Even though the symposium was cancelled, I ended up being awarded the third-place award for my paper.

For this project, I analyzed how the Chicago Tribune, then a prominent conservative publication, covered the South Korean leader Syngman Rhee, a GWU alum who would later go on to be the first president of South Korea in the years between 1945-1950. I chose this topic as I am interested in the history of international relations and am particularly interested at how domestic groups viewed foreign affairs.

In order to understand why I decided to analyze the Chicago Tribune in this time period, one needs to understand the state of US conservatism in the 1940s. Unlike conservatism of today, conservatism of the 1940s was split between both parties, and drew on supporters from all around the country. However, conservatives at the time had a few major defining ideals. One of these was Anti-Communism. Conservatives, ever since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, had opposed the spread of Communism and sought to combat it. During the 1920s and 30s many American conservatives had attacked organized labor for being the vanguard of communism in the US. Another ideal shared by many conservatives, as well as many on the left, was the belief in isolationism. American conservatives did not seek to create a state in which the US would turn into some sort of hermit kingdom a la DPRK. Instead, there was a belief that the US should not seek military involvements overseas.

An Overview of the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune represented the Midwestern conservative branch of the Republican party under the ownership of Col. Robert McCormick(who was never a Col.). McCormick was the descendant of Cyrus McCormick and inherited the International Harvester company. He utilized these funds to go purchase the Chicago Tribune and turn it into a mouthpiece to advocate for his own political beliefs, which included supporting relatives who were active in the Republican party. This blatant bias in the paper granted it a certain degree of journalistic infamy, with a survey of journalists declaring the paper the most biased in the country, a title it shared with the newspaper of the US Communist Party. The paper had a long list of enemies, including the Roosevelt administration and organized labor. It was incredibly isolationist and intensely criticized Churchill and Stalin, who were displayed as European imperialists intent on manipulating the US.

Phase One- A Useful Friend

The Chicago Tribune’s coverage of Rhee can be broken into three main phases. The Tribune’s coverage of Syngman Rhee began at the San Francisco conference of 1945, where Rhee had traveled to advocate for recognition of his Korean Provisional Government in exile, as Korea was still under Japanese rule. Rhee’s application for Korea to join the brand-new United Nations was turned down by the US State Department as they had a policy of not recognizing any formally established governments. The Chicago Tribune noticed this and reached out to Rhee. Rhee talked to the Tribune about how he sought to create an independent Korean state based on American principles of Republican government and free enterprise. This connection was in large part motivated by the fact that the Tribune wanted to criticize the Truman administration, and the saga of a Democratic adminstration ignoring the pleas of a pro-American freedom fighter made for a great story. This relationship is not entirely one sided, however, as Rhee wrote the Tribune, thanking it for its advocacy on his behalf.

Phase Two-Critique of an Authoritarian

The second phase takes place in 1946 and 47, when the Tribune correspondent Walter Simmons arrives in Southern Korea, which was under US military governance. Simmons painted Rhee as a diehard anti-communist, whose refusal to work with anyone on the left made him a major thorn in the side of the US military, who wanted Korea to have a functioning government. Simmons covers how Rhee uses paramilitary groups to attack newspapers that disagree with him, and states that he is an aspiring autocrat. This period is topped off by a report by Col. McCormick on the peninsula, in which he states the US should leave the peninsula, even if it means Korea will come under Soviet domination.

Phase Three- Anti-Communist Embrace

The last stage of the Tribune’s coverage of Rhee began in 1948 in the run up to the first Korean Presidential election. Here, the coverage of Rhee swings back in his favor. He is depicted as a dependable US ally seeking to create a country based off of American principles. Furthermore, the atrocities committed by right-wing paramilitaries were minimized, and the blame for all violence is placed on communists. The paper excuses Rhee’s repressive actions as necessary in order to counter the communist threat.

Throughout my research, I saw the Chicago Tribune at a crossroads in the history of American conservatism. At times, it signaled its isolationist tendencies, but in the end its desire to combat communism won out. This desire to support anti-communism abroad would later go on to define American conservatism throughout the rest of the Cold War.






Allison Brie from Community dances while giving a presentation

Research Presentations on the Blog!

Research. It’s one of the pillars of academic life, and one of the deep-set values of our program. Usually, the UHP hosts a yearly Research Symposium event in the Spring where all our students get the chance to present their research to both faculty and peers. Obviously, we won’t be having that this Spring! But we wanted to offer you all the opportunity to share your research anyway. So introducing:

Blog research presentations!

If you’ve done substantial research in the past year, we want to hear you share it with us! We’d especially love to hear from you Seniors with your Senior Theses, but everyone is welcome to participate. You can feel free to submit a video presentation, a pdf tri-fold, a story from your researching, or honestly just the paper itself! We’ll be accepting these submissions from now until the end of the summer. You can submit them on our Submit A Post page, preferably tagged as Research Stories. We want to celebrate you and your accomplishments– especially the research ones!

Advice from the (Peer) Advisors: Humanities Research and Wisdom from the Creative Writing Department

Check out the following post from Peer Advisor Chrissy House (CCAS ’20)!

Photo of Peer Advisor Chrissy

I’ve spent the last four years facing the infamous “exchange of glances” when I tell people I’m majoring in Creative Writing and English, the glance which means, “Ah, another unemployed English major will soon be released into the world.” And though I have long fallen victim to those glances and often worried for my future, I have an offer of employment for after graduation: an employed English major soon to be released into the world. As the picture I chose to accompany this post signifies, there are some doors you might not see at first glance, but once you push past the undergrowth and daunting requirements lists, you will find the door open to you. Don’t be discouraged from pursing opportunities for which you feel underqualified, apply and you may be pleasantly surprised.

I found myself in a similar position last year when my major advisor pushed me to apply for the GW Undergraduate Research Fellowship. I felt unqualified to pursue research in a sea of SEAS students—what does humanities research even entail?—but decided, what the heck, I’ll apply. I continued to feel unsure of myself as I chose a topic and wrote my research proposal. A section of the application asked about my previous research experience, a field in which I continued to feel underqualified. I’d done an extensive research project in high school on utilizing native pollinators in the face of dwindling honey bee populations, but that had been scientific research, and since coming to college, my only research had been research papers for German history and literature classes, which consisted of reading books and journal articles.

My major advisor and faculty mentor read five different drafts of my application until we were all satisfied. Subtle plug here for utilizing GW staff! I got more excited about the project as we discussed different directions my research could take—beyond just reading books and journal articles, my research proposal included taking advantage of my semester abroad in Germany to further my research on playwright Friedrich Schiller by attending modern productions of his plays and visiting museums and Schiller cultural sites in Germany. And as I got more excited about the project, I began to look at how my past experiences could benefit my application, instead of just seeing how few experiences I’d had. My research in high school prepared me to identify experts and reliable sources, taught me professional email skills for contacting experts in the field, and gave me practice in preparing for and conducting interviews with professionals. Additionally, my prior experiences required me to hone presentation skills that would benefit me in preparation for GW Research Days. My German papers here at GW had already exposed me to German music and cinema, so I wasn’t entering the theater sphere completely ignorant of German culture.

The conclusion of the fellowship saga, as I’m sure you guessed, is a positive one: I received the GW Undergraduate Research Fellowship. I travelled all over Germany seeing plays and visiting museums, an experience I likely wouldn’t have had without the fellowship. I continued my research upon returning to GW and transitioned the fellowship into my Senior Thesis.

What I’m trying to say here is don’t sell yourself short. Even if you feel underqualified, apply for that internship, fellowship, or job; don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself. Find the strengths in your experiences that will make you a better candidate and highlight them. Believe in yourself. If this English major can get a job, so can you.

3D Bone Scanning at the Smithsonian [SURE Stories]

The following blog post was written by UHPer and SURE Award winner Jane Meiter.           

The first time I rode the elevator to the third, restricted floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, I didn’t know what to expect.  The countless rows of locked metal cabinets, twisting to form a labyrinth of specimens, were not quite what I expected.

            When I came to GW, I knew one advantage of the school was its proximity to the Smithsonian.  I never imagined that by the fall of my Sophomore year I would be accepted inside of its hidden domains.  For the last year I have held a research assistantship through the Honors program where I go to the National History Museum’s backstage areas and 3D scan mammalian bones.  As an anthropology student, this opportunity exceeded my wildest dreams for how I would be spending my Fridays throughout the semesters.

            3D scanning is a critical advancement in the science of biological anthropology.  One of the difficulties in making measurements of bones is in the exact variations of such complicated three-dimensional shapes, so portable 3D scanners have made such measurements more precise and accessible.  My research assistantship focused on building a database of African bovid postcrania.  In English, my job was to select adult skeletons of African bovids—think gazelle, water buffalo, wildebeest—identify the bones, and scan them.  This requires accurate bone identification, including the side of the body it comes from.  Practicing week after week identifying bones helps solidify my knowledge of skeletal anatomy.  Once I have selected the bone to scan, I take it to the rotating turntable, placed in front of the glowing, striped blue light of the scanner.  The portable scanner is the size of a thick book, laid on top of a tripod, the camera staring out from where the spine should be, and a handle molded into the back of the scanner.  A computer program controls both the scanner and the turntable, so the scanner takes a picture and the turntable rotates in sync, repeating until the turntable has gone all the way around.  The software renders the photos of the bone into a 3D image.  Sometimes, there are particularly exciting days, like the two weeks where I was scanning the colossal bones of wildebeest.  Their ankle bones are the size of my palm and I had to swap to the hand-held mode of the scanner, swinging it wildly over the larger bones, standing on my tiptoes in order to keep it far enough away to register the scan.

            This research assistantship has been an invaluable and integral part of my GW experience.  Without it I would have never been presented with such an opportunity to see the Smithsonian Institution behind the scenes and to encounter such a diversity of learning material outside of the classroom.  Every time I enter the now-familiar labyrinth of cabinets, I still never fail to be amazed by the scale of it all.

Intersection of Religion and Science: a Unique UHP Opportunity [SURE Stories]

As a biology major, taking non-science classes through the University Honors Program has been an incredibly unique experience and it has enhanced my undergraduate career at GW.
During the Spring 2018 semester, I took a course titled Buddhist Contemplative Practices with Professor Eyal Aviv to learn more about meditation. This resulted in me asking an existential life question in the middle of class one day: “What is our purpose in the world as humans and why does it matter?” Pretty deep, right? With that question came more questions and my interest in the class, aided by Professor Aviv’s enthusiasm, led me to work on a research paper studying science and Buddhism side-by-side. My research project focused on exploring the intersection between science and Buddhism to support the Buddhist notion of non-self by using scientific evidence, such as (1) the evolution of the brain through natural selection and neural plasticity not allowing a single constant self to exist, and (2) the compartmentalization of the brain with individualized functions preventing the existence of one “self”.
My paper was accepted to the Southeast Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) Conference (a regional chapter of the American Academy of Religion) in North Carolina in March 2019. There, I gave a 20 minute presentation to undergraduates, graduate students, and professors. I had the opportunity to listen to experts in their fields who discussed various topics such as Buddhism and Women’s Rights in Thailand, Religion and the World War II Occupation of France, and Depictions of Asian Culture in American Popular Culture. I even received very useful advice for my senior thesis which focuses on the intentionality of consciousness in Advaita Vedānta, Yogācāra Buddhism, and contemporary philosophies.
Writing a paper, presenting at a conference, and answering questions on the spot are all skills I have gained through this experience. I can use these skills when I present at GW Research Days and when I defend my senior thesis for the Enosinian Scholars Program at the end of my senior year. All of this would not have been possible without the SURE Award, as the SURE Award supports Honors students in their research and academic endeavors. The SURE Award funded my travel and stay for the three day conference– giving me the opportunity to learn new skills and continue to become inspired in the field of research.
I highly recommend that students take part in research that they find interesting even if it entails stepping outside of their comfort zone and entering a whole new field of study– just like I did last spring. The University Honors Program gives students the support necessary to conduct exciting interdisciplinary research, and students should definitely take advantage of this!

Congrats to our SURE Award Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the UHP SURE Award for spring 2019! Students who win the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement Award use the funds to further their own research under faculty supervision.
These UHPers will be sharing more about their research experiences soon, so keep an eye out to learn more about their work! Snaps for Kelsie Ehalt, Claire Houchen, Mark McKibbin, and Rachel Orey from everyone at the UHP!

Kelsie will investigate how class affected the ritual practices of exorcism and look into archaeological records for more concrete information about Iron Age social structures. She also hopes to create a connection between the ancient Mesopotamian conception of exorcism and later practices, from early Jewish tradition, to Medieval demonology, to the modern portrayals in films.
Since summer 2017, Claire has been working in the lab of Dr. Colin Young at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, studying obesity and metabolic syndrome, with a brain-centric approach. Dr. Young’s lab has shown that “stressing” a certain region of the brain causes fatty liver disease in non-obese mice. This suggests that fatty liver disease may originate not in the liver but in the brain. This led to her current project, which focuses on female mice and fatty liver disease. The working hypothesis is that pre-menopausal female mice (and humans) are protected from fatty liver disease due to the role of estrogen in fat digestion (estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries). Claire will use her SURE Award funds to present her work at the April 2019 Experimental Biology Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Mark’s research project looks at whether individuals are more likely to vote in elections when they believe their vote “matters.” A key part of political science is figuring out why people decide to vote, and what motivates people to vote. To date, research showing increased turnout associated with the idea that one’s vote “matters” has mainly focused on how the closeness of the race increases turnout. He’ll explore whether people are more likely to vote when they believe the person they vote for will actually be able to make an impact on political decisions that affect their lives. 
Rachel’s research will focus on identifying the key factors that ameliorated the success of select smart cities in India, particularly focusing on how some city governments were able to overcome the barriers posed by weak institutions. Additionally, she will analyze cities that have been less successful in implementing the Smart Cities Mission to develop a more detailed understanding of what specific factors (beyond mere institutional weakness) inhibit comprehensive urban reform.

#HonorsProblems: Reflections from a Humble Research Assistant

The following blog post was written by Peer Advisor Lucy, a sophomore studying international affairs.
Besides “interdisciplinary curricula” and “holistic applicants”, identifying as a “research institution” seemed to be the hottest trend in university marketing when I was touring colleges.  You better believe it – some bright-eyed admissions rep would tell the gaggle of students and parents that had just spent probably a few too many hours in the car together – our students, here at [insert name] University, can do original research with faculty as undergraduates.
Like many things schools tell prospective students on tours (“the freshmen dorms are really nice”; “you’ll never get tired of the dining options”; etc.) I assumed that these alleged research opportunities should be taken with a grain of salt. Ok, so undergraduates can do research with faculty – how many students actually do research and what percentage of these students do research outside of the hard sciences? Knowing that I would be pursuing a major in the social sciences, I was fairly apprehensive about the actual amount of opportunities that would present themselves.
Of course this was because I had a completely incorrect understanding of what working with university faculty actually meant. Clearly, I would probably do more damage than good in a lab setting, but it was ridiculous to think that I could only perform original research from behind an Erlenmeyer flask.
Last Spring, I applied on a whim for a research assistant position that had been posted on the honors blog to work with a Professor Harris Mylonas in the Political Science department.  Because I was only in my second semester ever at GW, I was mostly expecting a “thanks but no thanks” at best given the fact that I did not have 15 internships immortalized on my resume. However, I was pleasantly proven wrong, and Professor Mylonas invited me to assist him with his research. Professor Mylonas’s work centers largely on diasporas, nation-building, and Southeastern Europe.  Since beginning work with him last Spring I have been able to contribute to various papers and articles. I continued working with Professor Mylonas this semester, and most recently, I have been assisting him with updating Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2018 Report for Greece and Cyprus.
It was foolish of me to think that as a social science major I would need to wait for a senior thesis or graduate school to develop a close relationship with a faculty members. Professors are doing research in fields beyond just the hard sciences, and student engagement is feasible in all disciplines. My experience working with Professor Mylonas has been challenging and fulfilling, and I know that I am a stronger student and critical thinker because of this experience.   

Boston University Twin Project [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Jody Ganiban
Department: Psychology
Title: Boston University Twin Project
Description: The Boston University Twin Project (BUTP) is a multi-method, multi-situation, longitudinal study of early child temperament and related behaviors. The first phase of this project focused primarily on activity level and comprised over 300 twin pairs assessed in the home and lab at ages 2 and 3. Subject recruitment, sample characteristics, and study procedures are described. A second phase broadens our focus to the development of multiple temperament dimensions and developmental outcomes in a new cohort of 300 twin pairs to be assessed at 3, 4, and 5 years of age.
Duties: Research assistants will be involved in the collection of data through analysis of videos of parent-child dyadic interactions. Each RA will be assigned videos weekly to code. Much of the work would be done independently and on the research assistant’s schedule. One hour each week would be dedicated to a meeting with other research assistants and the supervisor in order to discuss anomalies in videos and necessary modifications to the coding manual and procedures.
Time commitment: 7-9 hours per week (average)
Credit hour option*: 3
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: ganiban@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Political Campaigns Meet Fantasy Sports [SURE Stories]

The following blog post was written by UHPer and SURE Award winner Benji Englander.
One of the best things about pursuing individual research is the ability to create your own project focused on the things you find most interesting. As a political communication major moonlighting as a self-proclaimed fantasy sports expert, my thesis allowed me to combine my loves of sports and politics into one academic research project.
By conducting an A/B test that compares two versions of a candidate’s speech – one with local sports team references and one without – in three states known for the loyalty of their sports fans, my research ascertained the political usefulness of sports rhetoric. While not conclusive, the results show that under the right circumstances with the right audience, references to local sports teams can play an important role in political rhetoric and offer unique insights into voter behavior. This project was a substantial undertaking that would not have been possible without the SURE award and support from the UHP. The funding allowed me to gather a representative sample size for my experiment leading to statistically significant results.
If given the opportunity, I would highly recommend that students participate in individual research. Academic research combines all the skills taught throughout college and focuses them on something guaranteed to be interesting because you are in control. The ability to pick the subject matter is rare as an undergraduate and an opportunity one shouldn’t pass up.

2018 Research Showcase Recap

This year’s Honors Research Showcase featured presentations from eleven intellectually omnivorous UHPers. Check out their project titles below.
Benjamin Englander: Rooting for the Home Team: Sports, Politics, and the Rhetoric of Identification
Eliza Goren: The Undergraduate Female Experience: It’s a Man’s World
Elizabeth Hasier: The Streets We Share: A Photographic Study in Transience and Defining Community
Hannah Corn: An Analysis of Chinese Internal Migration to Beijing
Jacqueline Dyer: Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Netrual Lipid Species by Laser Desorption Ionization from Silicon Nanopost Arrays and MALDI
Jacquelyn Veatch: Understanding the City’s Role in Climate Action
Kara Zielinski: Amylin Aggregation Kinetics
Margaret Steiner: HIV-1 Transmission Clusters and Drug Resistance in Washington, D.C.
Quinn Divens: Through Her Eyes: Baya Mahieddine and the Female Form in French Algeria
Rohan Patil: A Multimodal Solution to Workplace Violence in the Hospital
Youmna Sirgi: Understanding Outbound Student Mobility in Lebanon’s Sectarian Environment
Thanks to all who came to show your support! And to our presenters, who did a fantastic job.
Questions or ideas for future UHP research-related events? Please email benfaulkner@gwu.edu.

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