Evenings with History

The University History Institute

You have a unique opportunity to share in the excitement of historical discovery through the twenty-seventh annual Evenings with History series.

The Evenings with History series, sponsored by the University History Institute, features presentations by UALR faculty members sharing their current research. Although these talks are aimed at a general audience, each offers insight into the real workings of historical scholarship. The nationally-recognized series covers a variety of times, areas, and subjects. Many of the presentations illuminate current affairs. The format also allows for questions and discussion.

This year’s meetings will be held at the Ottenheimer Auditorium in the Historic Arkansas Museum at 200 E. Third Street in Little Rock.  Historic Arkansas’s downtown location and the museum’s adjacent parking lot at Third and Cumberland make the sessions convenient and pleasant to attend. Refreshments and an informal atmosphere encourage the interchange of ideas.  Refreshments are served at 7:00 p.m., and the talk begins at 7:30 p.m.

Come experience the joy of history in a truly historic setting!

An individual subscription to the series, at $50 annually, includes these benefits:

–Admission to all six lectures.

A joint subscription to the series, at $90 annually, offers couples and friends a savings of $10.

A Fellow of the Institute, at $250 annually, receives admission to the six lectures plus an invitation to special presentations for Fellows only. This often includes a private evening with a noted author.

A Life Membership is available at $1,000 and includes the benefits of a Fellow.

Corporate Sponsorships are available at a $250 minimum contribution.

Regular Registered Undergraduate and Graduate Students at UALR may attend the lectures free of charge.

Subscribers to the series help support historical research.  The presenters donate their time, and the University History Institute uses all proceeds from the series to encourage research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  In recent years annual Institute grants, made possible by the Evenings with History series, have made major purchases of historical research materials for UALR.  Subscriptions and donations to the Institute are tax deductible as allowed by law.

2016-2017 Evenings with History Series.

October 4, 2016 — Kristin Dutcher Mann,
“Music and Healing in Colonial Latin America”

Across cultures and time, music’s healing properties and mental effects have been recognized by healers, lay persons, and researchers. In seventeenth and eighteenth-century Latin America, native healers, missionaries and priests incorporated different forms of music into their rituals for physical and spiritual healing. Increasing contact between native peoples, regular and secular clergy, settlers, and enslaved peoples from different regions and cultural backgrounds produced a wide variety of music used for healing across Spanish colonies in the Americas. This talk will investigate the ways in which song and dance were defined and used as part of the healing rituals, as well as controversies and cultural exchange related to these musical performances.

November 1, 2016 —  Michael Heil,
“Argument, Proof, and the Judgment of God: The Ordeal in Medieval Theory and Practice”

Irrational, violent, cruel: few phenomena seem to embody the pejorative sense of the word “medieval” better than the judicial ordeal (trial by fire, by water, by battle, and the like). But in medieval Europe the ordeal was intimately bound up with modes of thought and legal processes the are more recognizable to us. The first part of this talk will explore medieval theories of the efficacy of the ordeal (called the “judgment of God”) as well as medieval criticisms of it. The second part of the talk will explore the ordeal in practice: the kinds of cases in which the ordeal was used, the frequency with which it was used, and, especially, the ways in which the ordeal-or the threat of the ordeal-could be deployed alongside other, more “rational” modes of proof and argumentation.

December 6, 2016 — Carl Moneyhon
“Civil War Memory and Cultural Divides in Arkansas”

Any perusal of the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat­Gazette or a stroll through the blogging world will show that Arkansans possess starkly different ideas about the character of the American Civil War and especially the South’s role in it. While a few insist that the war was fought over slavery and that the Confederate cause was dishonorable, possibly a larger number see the conflict as one over states’ rights and an honorable fight. Indeed, some see the war as still on, a conflict between an overweening national government and the state, a fight over who should control everything from marriage to health care and education. This talk discusses how such contrasting views of the war emerged among Arkansans, disagreements that ultimately undermine the development of a collective identity among the state’s people.

February 7, 2017 — James Ross,
“Some Degree of Separation: The Struggle for Equal Education in Little Rock in the 1960s”

The 1957 Central High crisis was one of the defining moments in the struggle for civil rights in America. After federal courts ordered the desegregation of Little Rock’s schools, a new generation of white leaders arose who accepted a small degree of desegregation if it saved the public schools and prevented more extreme policies. By examining the experiences of a student, a civil rights leader, and one white school board member, this lecture will explain how white city leaders devised ways to control and slow desegregation and minimally comply with court orders. These actions established the trajectory of the Little Rock School District for the next fifty years, as white leaders exhibited little concern for equal education but maintained control of the district and its finances, despite a student population that became majority black by 1976.

March 7, 2017 — Brian Mitchell,
“Exploring the Diversity of New Orleans’ Free Black Community”

New Orleans is often compared to one of its signature dishes, gumbo. Gumbo is a complex stew which incorporates the culinary traditions of West African, Native American, and Gallic settlers. Like gumbo, New Orleans is an amalgamation and its unique culture could not exist without all of its component communities. Early historians, anthropologists, and linguists who studied the city’s communities attempted to address the black community monolithically. In doing so, they discovered perplexing levels of complexity which still present challenges to identifying what it means to be black in New Orleans. My discussion will explore New Orleans’s Free Black Community by examining its Free Black Register. The Mayor’s Register of Free Blacks in the City of New Orleans was signed by Free Blacks residing in the city between 1840 and 1864. The register, though incomplete, provides a fascinating glimpse into the African American community of Antebellum New Orleans and challenges many popular assumptions in regard to race, immigration, and cultural assimilation.

April 4, 2017 — Jeff Kyong-McClain,
“A Wall of Separation between Temple and State? The Communist Party and Religion in Contemporary China”

In recent years, observers have noted an explosion of religious belief in China, rapidly increasing membership rolls of the legal religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism), but also of many heterodox sects as well, In many ways, this explosion can be understood as a natural result of the Communist Party-directed “Reform and Opening Up” policies of the last four decades. Natural or not, however, the Party looks on with some trepidation, fearful of potential social instability and of their declining control over the people. This talk will explain the history of “Temple and State” relations in modern China, introduce the many ambiguities of the current situation, and speculate on some possible future scenarios.

About the University History Institute

The University History Institute, a nonprofit Arkansas corporation, is an organization of private citizens interested in history and in community support for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  The officers and board of directors of the Institute represent a cross section of the Central Arkansas community. At present they are:

Craig Berry, President
Dr. Joe Bates, Vice President
Lee Johnson, Treasurer
Frederick Ursery, Secretary

Robert Adams     Judge Ellen Brantley     Kathryn Fitzhugh     Anne Fulk     Dr. Betty Hathaway     Bob McKuin
Dr. Bobby Roberts     Elaine Scott     Dr. Robert Sherer
Dr. David Stricklin     Dr. Allan Ward

All funds collected by the University History Institute are used to further historical research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  The UALR Foundation Fund is also a nonprofit Arkansas corporation and holds U. S. Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status.  For additional information about the Institute, call (501) 569-3235.

Please consider subscribing to the University History Institute’s Evenings with History series at the Fellow ($250), Life ($1,000), or Corporate Sponsor ($250 minimum) levels. Members at this level receive special benefits. In addition to membership in the Evenings with History subscription series for a donor and guests, Fellows and Life members are invited to sessions held for them only.

Special sessions for Fellows and Life members include an annual event held in the Arkansas Studies Institute and other events held in a variety of locations. These delightful and intimate occasions involve a brief presentation by a special guest, and then an open discussion among everyone.  It’s a kind of history-in-the-making that is a rare opportunity.  The Fellow and Life member events usually feature distinguished scholars or, in many cases, significant historical figures themselves. In the past, that has included noted author Dee Brown; UALR law professor Lynn Foster; celebrated journalist Ernie Dumas; former Senator David Pryor; early Clinton observer Steve Smith; Native American Press collector Dan Littlefield; and others.

If you’re interested in becoming a major donor, contact any officer or board member of the University History Institute or write or call us at:

University History Institute

2801 South University Avenue

Little Rock, Arkansas 72204-1099

(501) 569-3235

FAX: (501) 569-3059

A Thank You to Corporate Sponsors for the 2016-2017 Season.

The generosity of Friday, Eldredge, & Clark and the Union Pacific Railroad help make these lectures possible. Thanks also for support and gifts in kind from the Ottenheimer Library, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Historic Arkansas Museum, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; UALR Public Radio—KUAR-KLRE; UALR public television; and Grapevine Spirits.

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