Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Tom Franklin

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

DR. MARCUS HALL BENNETT is lead archaeologist on a site in Northumberland, England dated after the Norman Conquest. The excavation seems standard until the discovery of Artifact XX.46.8.2, a collection of animal skins covered in writing. To translate the writing, Hall calls in DR. QUINN PRESTON, a linguist studying Middle English as a creole. As Quinn begins to analyze the writing, she realizes they have discovered a new pidgin—a perfect storm of changing language during a time of political upheaval. Through months of study, Quinn understands the text as a history of the tribe leading up to their extinction at the hands of a prominent English family. Together, the two academics publish the findings that will define their careers. Hall sees this discovery as another step toward confronting a history of war and colonization. A relatively young scholar, Quinn knows this research is her big break. She is determined to get every translation right, no matter whom it hurts. For DAME EVELYN STALLINGSWORTH, this discovery could mean the destruction of her family. Evelyn is now the matriarch of a family under historical scrutiny. Her marriage, her social standing, and her multi-million pound charity are being threatened by this prejudicial connection drawn between her hard-earned status and the events of a past she cannot control. With tensions rising in her family, Evelyn must find a way to save herself before her life dissipates into social ruin and legal discredit. Back in the States, Hall and Quinn are celebrating their successful research, until word arrives from England. The Stallingsworths claim that the current family has no connection to these killings and that their name should be redacted from the reports. Hall refuses to meet the family’s demands, saying that doing so would be revisionist history and the end of his academic career. Seeing no other options, Evelyn sues Hall and Quinn, and as the two sides enter this legal fight, each must decide for themselves—what do modern people owe their ancestors, and what should be done when people are confronted with the truth about a past they never knew?

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