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The University Graduate School Distinguished Master's Thesis Award


Janice Miller

Janice Miller, a former IUPUI graduate student from the Department of History in the School of Liberal Arts was recently recognized with The University Graduate School Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. Every year, each degree granting program of The University Graduate School may nominate one “truly outstanding” Master’s thesis for consideration by a committee of faculty reviewers. Annually, only two recipients are selected for this prestigious award from among the many IU and IUPUI students nominated.

Miller completed her MA in History at IUPUI in September 2016 with her thesis entitled “In Brighter Colors: Fauvist Influences and Gender Politics in the Art of Gabriele Münter.” She chose this topic “to highlight the career of a female German Expressionist artist, Gabriele Münter (1877-1962), who has been largely underrepresented in art historical discourse. As is so often the case with women artists, Münter's artistic endeavors had remained eclipsed by those of her companion, Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky,” said Miller.

IUPUI faculty who reviewed Miller’s thesis commented on the excellent organization, syntax, grammar and spelling within the document. One noted that: [The thesis] “is interdisciplinary in focus, equally a work of art history as well as cultural and intellectual history.” A member of Miller’s research advisory committee commented, “Ms. Miller dedicated herself to her Master’s research with an extraordinary level of commitment - a dedication that one would expect more of a doctoral candidate than a Master’s student.” One of Miller’s committee members is encouraging Janice to write a book based on sections of her thesis and indicates in a letter that this will require little revision. This faculty member also writes: “I truly believe this research merits a wider audience and would attract a readership.”

Miller said her research changed drastically when she made the crucial observation that Gabriele Münter's Expressionist work aligns very closely with the style of the French Fauves, a concurrent artistic movement led by Henri Matisse.

“This stylistic plurality demonstrates Münter's skillful judgment and reinterpretation of artistic movements beyond Germany. Together with my thesis advisor, Dr. Kevin C. Robbins, I embarked on an ambitious project to prove that Münter was not only an exceptional German Expressionist, but also the finest female German Fauve operating in early twentieth-century Europe. It is my hope that this reinvestigation of Münter's extensive oeuvre will prompt scholars to revisit the creative output of twentieth-century female artists,” Miller stated.

As a result of the award, Miller was chosen as The University Graduate School’s nominee from IUPUI for the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools 2018 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards. The 74th annual conference will be held from April 4-6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan next year. Miller will also present her research on Gabriele Münter at the 2018 American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Miller received her bachelor’s degree from IUPUI within the Herron School of Art and Design. She is currently teaching German Expressionism and Art History courses as an adjunct faculty member in the Herron School. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. but will first take a break from student life to pursue research and professional opportunities.

Previous award winners

  • Abby Curtin Teare - 2016 Award Recipient

    Abby Curtin Teare

    Abby Curtin Teare

    Curtin Teare’s thesis, “Rethinking Landscape Interpretation: Form, Function, and Meaning of the Garfield Farm, 1876-1905”, stood out for its “depth of research, creativity, and sophistication,” according to one of her thesis committee reviewers.

    Another reviewer wrote, “Abby Curtin has demonstrated how a thorough collection of historic documents related to the political, social, and agricultural history of one Midwestern farm and its family presents an opportunity to share with the general public... an important chapter in American history when farms become suburbs.”

    Curtin Teare said the history program prepared her well for her current role as Grants Manager at the Cleveland History Center. “IUPUI's public history program gave me rigorous training in academic history as well as practical experience working for two public history institutions in Indianapolis. I've found that the research, writing, and project management skills I used to balance my studies and my internship schedule has prepared me for my current position, which requires me to manage the museum's grants calendar and write proposals and reports.”

  • Karim - 2016 Award Recipient

    Karim & Nobel Prize Winner Mohammed Yunus

    Karim (right) with Nobel Prize Winner Mohammed Yunus at an International Poverty Conference in Washington D.C. Karim received a travel grant to speak about his work in Indonesia, as well as about his research on homelessness in Indianapolis.

    Karim’s thesis, “Leaving the Bridge, Passing the Shelters: Understanding Homeless Activism Through Utilization of Spaces with the Central Public Library and the IUPUI Library in Indianapolis”, ranks as “among the best I have read, and in most respects, it rises to the level of a doctoral dissertation,” according to Karim’s thesis committee chair.

    Another member of Karin’s thesis committee wrote, “As an applied anthropologist Karim has provided a rich body of ethnographic data that can be used by a wide range of professionals, such as policy-makers and non-governmental organizations, as they move forward to create more relevant and sensitive programs for homeless populations at the local, regional and national levels.”

    Karim explained his work on the thesis “equipped me with valuable experience doing ethnographic research about homeless activism in the City of Indianapolis; this experience has given me a new perspective on poverty and inequality in a more global context.”

    Karim is currently an associate planner in the Directorate of Poverty Reduction, the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) in the Republic of Indonesia.

    In choosing winners, the committee considers such criteria as originality, documentation, significance, accuracy, organization and style. To be eligible for the award, nominees must have received their master’s degree between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Each winner received a $1,500 stipend and will be recognized at an April 11, 2016 awards reception.