The University History Institute will continue its “Evenings with History” series of talks in Spring 2009 with three lectures, listed below. These lectures are open to members of the University History Institute. To learn about becoming a member, please visit the Institute’s website.
“Who Thought of Silver Patterns Anyway? The History and Mysteries of Silver in American Life” Johanna Miller Lewis
February 3, 2009
Modern historical scholarship increasingly uses material culture to throw light onto aspects of American life that written documents do not fully illuminate. This lecture examines the use of silverware in America. Examining a group of patterns as an example, it reveals how objects can be read as documents and shows what they can teach us not only about how Americans lived in the past but about their history in general.
“The Underground Railroad: On Track, Derailed, and Back on Track Again” S. Charles Bolton
March 3, 2009
Most Americans know the Underground Railroad as a network of individuals who helped slaves escape from the South and reach freedom in Canada. Contemporaries believed it existed, with abolitionists praising its “conductors” and Southerners denouncing them. Historians have not been so sure of its significance though. Through time they have played it up, then played down. Today there is new interest in the Underground Railroad, the National Park Service is preserving sites connected to it, and historians are considering its role once again. How important was the Underground Railroad? How has its history been used? These are the questions considered in this talk.
“‘Once Upon a Time,’ But Really, When?” Edward M. Anson
April 7, 2009
The dating, or more factually the attempted dating, of events in Classical antiquity is often the subject of intense debate. Disagreements are not over time of day, day of the week, month of the year, but quite often over the year in which the event occurred. This talk exposes the complexities of determining ancient chronology in general, examines a current controversy concerning the early years of the Hellenistic Age, and shows how issues of dating can critically change our understanding of the past.