Isabella Stark (3283)

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Gifts to Isabella Stark (3283) contribute to:
2022 Honors Fellowships (3283)
253 Donors - $58,580 Donated

Title: 1980s Pop Culture, Politics, and the Pope: How the Messages of Young People and John Paul II Influenced Modernity 

Project Description: 

This honors thesis will address the following research questions: are there parallels between the messages, ideas, and themes in British and American popular culture, especially popular music, and the messages, ideas, and themes in the speeches and writings of John Paul II during the 1980s? To what degree is the relationship between themes of 1980s pop culture and John Paul II’s writings significant? This thesis will also analyze how John Paul II represented a break from papal tradition by issuing an official apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for aligning with fascist regimes during World War II, the progressive reforms for which he advocated at the Vatican II council, and the inclusivity of his teachings. Based on preliminary research, three consistent messages pervaded pop culture and coincided with the messages of John Paul II’s papacy. These reoccurring messages included but are not limited to: 1) challenging notions of traditional masculinity and femininity; 2) the promotion of nonviolence in all facets of life, and; 3) political activism based on collective rather than individual wellbeing. How were these messages a departure from previously established notions of masculinity and femininity, the endorsement of nonviolence vis a vis violence, and political activism for collective versus individual wellbeing? Political developments and war prior to and during the 1980s spurred a reevaluation of values, creating many of the messages that are evident in British and American pop culture and coincided with those of John Paul II. Thus, reviewing the decades leading up to the 1980s is vital to establishing the causality between political decisions and social and cultural developments. This causality contextualizes the attitudes of the 1980s and partially explains why these were transformative years in modern history.  

Hometown: Arlington, Virginia 

Department: History

Advisor: Charles McGovern

Each William & Mary Honors Fellowships donation supports the whole Charles Center Honors Fellowships Fund. Donations inspired by specific research projects are distributed by the Charles Center in a way that benefits that project and others. To learn more about Honors Fellowships, please visit our website. 

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