Congratulations to the 2024 Library Research Prize Winner, Liam Groah!

By Grace Spiewak and Julia Wollrab

Liam Groah (right) with Rob Karpinski, Associate Vice-President for Academic and Library Affairs

Each year, the DePaul University Library celebrates the research of first-year students through the Library Research Prize. This year, we congratulate our winner Liam Groah on the essay “Our Country’s Cross: The Danger of Christian Nationalism Dividing America.”

The Library Research Prize is awarded to a First-Year Writing student whose researched essay demonstrates excellence in the application of information literacy skills, including expertise in the discovery, evaluation, and use of information tools and resources. In addition to the essays, the student also submits a research statement that reflects on the use of library research tools, sources, and services at each stage of the research process. This year’s essay displayed an iterative research process guided by the question “What is the influence, if any, of Christianity on American contemporary politics?”.

Liam’s essay was written for Delia Pless’ WRD 104 course and examines the dynamic intersection of Christian nationalism and U.S. politics. The essay analyzes current issues such as the January 6th Capitol attack and election politics in light of the historical foundations of Christian nationalism:

“Christian nationalism isn’t only a recent movement, their foundations were laid with American colonialism and manifest destiny in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1920s, prohibition of alcohol shows the lobbying power Christian nationalist policies had and can have. Modern Christian nationalism began to form in the 1960s through evangelical television and strong alliances formed between the Republican Party and evangelicals during the Reagan era, including several influential organizations that combated large movements and had anti-democratic viewpoints.”

When Liam began searching the keywords “religion,” “Christianity,” and “politics” in the Academic Search Complete database, the concept of “Christian nationalism” began to emerge, guiding his search process.  Identifying relevant scholars such as Andrew Whitehead pointed Liam toward related articles that cited Whitehead’s work.  Liam sought additional perspectives by citing essays that explained the rationales behind Christian nationalism.  In order to gauge the state of current events in America, Liam also incorporated information from popular sources such as magazine articles in Time and posts made by former president Donald Trump on X (formerly Twitter).

Taking into account the United States’ long-established separation of church and state, the essay concludes that acknowledgement of Christian nationalism’s significant influence on politics is a first step toward curbing the ongoing civic fracture and social instability in the U.S. By recognizing that the research process is essential to forming a thesis, Liam constructed a strong argument informed by a wide breadth of scholarship and perspectives.

Congratulations to Liam for his excellent example of research and writing!

The Library Research Prize is just one of the awards given to recognize excellent undergraduate work at the First-Year Writing Showcase. Honorees, joined by their professors, family members, and friends, were celebrated at an in-person reception on May 22 in Cortelyou Commons. Many thanks to the faculty and staff of DePaul University’s First-Year Writing Program and Victoria Hohenzy, Assistant Director of First-Year Writing; our Library Research Prize coordinator, Firouzeh Rismiller; the Library Research Prize judges, Firouzeh Rismiller, Julia Wollrab, Kaiya Schroeder, and Grace Spiewak; and all library staff who teach and support our students and faculty in WRD 104 and HON 100. Your contributions make this collaboration with our First-Year Writing colleagues a success!

If you would like to learn more about the Library Research Prize for First-Year Writing or the library’s instructional program for first-year students, please contact Firouzeh Rismiller, Instructional Services Librarian.

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