Friday, March 9, 2012

Randolph alumna to speak at local historical society meeting

A recent Randolph College graduate will be the keynote speaker at the Friends of Rivermont Historical Society’s annual meeting next week.

Kathleen Conti ’11 will discuss historical research she conducted at Randolph. Her work shed light on controversy that erupted after the National D-Day Memorial, about 30 miles from the College, installed a bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, commemorating his involvement in D-Day.

“Embarking on the project, I knew that it was a very timely and a very controversial subject,” Conti said. “I also knew that it would matter.”

Conti conducted a summer research project titled “Memory as a Political Strategy: The Politics of Stalin Remembrance in Russia,” which considered ways Russian politicians evoked selective memories of Stalin to foster nationalism, while the nation as a whole sought to expunge him from memory. She expanded her research to study the purpose and history of the National D-Day Memorial.

Conti, who is now studying at UNC-Chapel Hill, said her summer research project and her senior paper prepared her for graduate school. She recalls several graduate school interviewers being impressed upon learning how much research she had done using primary sources.

“Many undergraduate programs don’t have the intensive capstone experiences that Randolph offers,” Conti said. “That’s one of our strengths.”

The Friends of Rivermont Historical Society established a historic district in the area around Randolph College and is dedicated to preserving and improving the beauty, safety, and community spirit of Historic Rivermont. Gerry Sherayko, a history professor at the College, is the president of the society and invited Conti to be this year’s speaker.