Spotlight on Innovators
Sarah MuncyHonors College Senior, History
Sarah Muncy, a senior History major in the Honors College from Carrollton, Texas, is currently researching and writing an Honors thesis on the effect of using popular culture references, such as Paddington Bear, to understand the myths, realities and experiences of children evacuating during the London Blitz of World War II. She is under the guidance of Dr. Aliza Wong, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Honors College.
In Muncy's research, she focuses on how the British government used posters and news programs to perpetrate the idealistic, picturesque vacation that evacuation was going to be, in order for citizens to participate—given the fact evacuation was by choice, and not mandatory. Interestingly, a fictional figure called Paddington Bear was created nearly fifteen years after the end of the war, and became a prominent icon representing the evacuations during the 1940s. Muncy's research aims to understand the actual realities of these children evacuating on an individual basis and question why a cartoon bear was later used to not only represent, but ultimately romanticize the events of horrific bombings, hasty desertion of home, and the large scale displacement of many British children.
To further understand the experiences of those evacuated, Muncy uses personal letters, memoirs and, most importantly, interviews she has conducted with former evacuees to understand the true stories of evacuation. In this aspect of her research, Muncy discovered that following the war, it was expected for evacuees to return home to normal life. However, life was not the same following the war. Muncy states that many of the people who chose to write about their experiences as a child evacuating generally claimed, "I left home, I had to grow up too fast, and I never found home again." While Muncy is collecting stories of child evacuees during World War II, her work also expands on the misrepresentations and over-romanticizing of historical events through popular culture.
When asked about her student's research, Dr. Aliza Wong doted on Muncy's work. "Sarah's Honors thesis represents the best of what the collaboration between the Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences can offer our undergraduate students. Sarah has been able to develop a curiosity into a rich, well-researched, well-documented, deeply personal study of childhood, sacrifice, and war and society. Her commitment to telling this story, to honoring the narratives of these British evacuees demonstrates what amazing potential she has as historian and scholar."
This past summer, Muncy participated in Texas Tech's Congressional Internship program and interned for Congressman Filemon Vela. While living in Washington D.C., she had the opportunity to conduct research at the Library of Congress. Muncy recalls, "It was really neat. I'm handling documents from the 1940's and stuff that came from Roosevelt's office."
Eventually, Muncy would like to travel to London. She hopes to continue studying this project, and eventually go on for a PhD in British History.April 2016 By: Emalee Nelson