Research Highlight: Shannon Baker

by arowsey on June 10, 2021

I had the opportunity to interview Shannon Baker concerning her opportunity to have her distinction project on Confederate monuments be published in the Michigan Journal of History.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

My distinction project, Confederate Monuments in Context: Arlington National Cemetery and the Legacy of the Confederacy, analyzed the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery and placed it in the larger, modern-day context surrounding the debate around Confederate symbols. I applied theory from memory studies and public history to explain the power of hegemonic narratives of history, why monuments can be so controversial, and the arc of the Lost Cause throughout American history. 

 What made you decide to pursue your topic? Why did you decide to do research

I decided to research this project both out of a genuine interest (we had been discussing Confederate memorialization in my Intro to Public History class when I proposed this project), and because I was going to participate in the Washington semester, and I wanted to be able to do research while I was in D.C. I knew I was going to do research because of my enrollment in the Honors program.

How has your experience with your research advisor been?

I really loved getting to work with Dr. Rosenthal. She was so helpful and encouraging, and I definitely couldn’t have gotten it done at all without her. Dr. Rosenthal kept me on track, and my paper wouldn’t have been as strong as it was if I didn’t have such a great supervisor.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

I’ve really found a lot of interesting things through my research, but I think the most interesting thing I’ve stumbled across — and the article that made me consider this topic in the first place — was a newspaper article written by the descendants of the Arlington monument sculptor, Moses Ezekiel, calling for the monument’s removal following the 2017 Charlottesville riot. (here’s the link, it’s really well-written: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/descendants-of-rebel-sculptor-remove-confederate-memorial-from-arlington-national-cemetery/2017/08/18/d4da6a3e-842b-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html)

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research? 

I recommend doing research to any student at RC. It gives you the opportunity to make something you can be so proud of, and it certainly made me a better writer and researcher. It’s not as scary as it seems!

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