Dordt College News

Dordt senior Eric Spoelstra takes first prize at history conference

April 19, 2012

Dordt College senior Eric Spoelstra of San Marcos, California, earned first prize at the 47th annual Student History Conference at the University of South Dakota, on April 19, for his paper “The Sacred Muse of Revolution: The Impact of the Revolution on the Musical Landscape of America.”

“My research examines how this important event shaped the religious beliefs of Americans by examining their music. Music reflected people’s most deeply held beliefs about the world around them,” Spoelstra wrote in his abstract. “I looked at the themes, purpose, lyrics, and style of music surrounding the American Revolution and used the results to show a change in the American people’s religious practice and beliefs.”

“Eric’s research showed unusual depth at the undergraduate level. He took ideas from a number of fields and synthesized them into a very strong paper,” said David Zwart, Dordt College professor of history. “His love for music, as well as his participation in Dordt’s music department, really pulled him to look at how music was a reflection of that worldview.”

This is the second year in a row that a Dordt paper took first prize. Dordt graduate Sarah Roth of Escondido, California, won last year.

The Student History Conference features papers on local, American, European, and world history. This year, more than 20 papers were presented from University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota; Northern State University of Aberdeen, South Dakota; Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska; Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota; Minnesota State University Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota; Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota; and Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.

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