Evenings with History
Evenings with History
The 2012-2013 Series
The University History Institute
You have a unique opportunity to share in the excitement of historical discovery through the twenty-first 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 you can learn about the intentions of the United States government in the December 1983 meeting between Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein; examine what remains to be discovered about the Black Death; decide whether the Mayans could have predicted the end of the world; consider who knew of the Holocaust and when; discover the role of Geography in discerning and proposing solutions to destructive threats; and get to know prominent Arkansas businessman and Reconstruction political leader—Logan H. Roots.
The six sessions of the 2012-2013 Evenings with History series will be on the first Tuesday of October and December of 2011, and February, March, and April, 2013. The November 2012 session will be on the second Tuesday. 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.
The Institute also offers a Life Membership at $1,000.
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.
October 2–Clea Bunch. “The Rumsfeld-Hussein Meeting, December 1983-A Nuanced View of American Policy”
The purpose of Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld’s talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December 1983 has been scrutinized and criticized by the media and in popular histories in the wake of the 1991 and 2003 conflicts between the United States and Iraq. The prevailing interpretation of this meeting is that it resulted from President Ronald Reagan’s effort to contain the power of Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini by providing support to Iraq. This talk, based on documents from the Reagan Library, suggests a more nuanced picture of this meeting, arguing that Rumsfeld’s visit to the region was not concerned with containing Iranian power, but rather with enhancing the stability of Lebanon in preparation for a withdrawal of United States forces from that country.
November 13–Laura Smoller. “The Black Death: Not Dead Yet!”
Between 1347 and 1352 a new and mysterious disease ravaged Europe, killing between a quarter and two-thirds of the continent’s inhabitants. Later historians dubbed the epidemic “The Black Death.” For most of the second half of the twentieth century, scholars debated the extent to which the massive demographic decline transformed European society, but in the last decade attention has shifted to what caused this Black Death. A number of scholars began to question the long-held assumption that the Black Death marked an eruption of bubonic plague, citing significant discrepancies between the epidemiology of the fourteenth-century diseases and modern outbreaks of plague caused by yersinia pestis. Recent scientific studies of DNA recovered from known victims of the Black Death, however, appear to have solved the mystery, concluding that it was yersinia pestis. Does the DNA evidence provide the last word on the Black Death? This talk argues that much remains for historians to contribute to understanding the course, effects, and experience of the Black Death
December 4– Kristin Mann. “The Maya: History, Culture, and Myth”
Recent television programs, websites, and books tell us that the upcoming end of a cycle in the Mayan Long Count Calendar indicates that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. Have the Maya calculated the day the world will end? Does the popular picture of Mayan culture and its calendar represent the reality of that people, their society, their culture, or their technology? This lecture explores current scholarship on the Maya, examining what we now know about this important Meso-American people.
February 5, 2013–Thomas Kaiser. “What Did They Know and When Did They Know It? Holocaust Awareness during World War II”
At the end of World War II, many Germans professed to have known nothing about the Holocaust while it was occurring. Since that time, historians have re-examined this claim in an effort to determine who knew what and when, not only in Germany but also in the United States, Britain, and elsewhere. Their work has shown that knowledge of the Holocaust was much more widespread than previously claimed, but that it varied according to place, time, and situation. The purpose of this talk is to review the findings of these historians, as well as to consider the deeper question of what it means to “know” of an ongoing atrocity.
March 5–Jess Porter. “Death, DEstruction, and…Geography?”
History is filled with stories of destructive threats and actual disasters for individuals and societies. Geographers have employed a wide variety of techniques and technologies to explore such events in the past. Their work has helped people make better decisions in dealing with everything from wildfires to the management of diseases. This talk examines the development of the geographers’ exploratory approaches, how they have been applied to the past, their relevance to historical research, and the promise they offer to the management of threats to human well-being.
April 3–Frances Ross. “Logan Holt Roots: Illinois Native, Arkansas Politician and Businessman”
Logan Holt Roots was a native of Illinois who was in the Union Army during the Civil War. He served in the Quartermaster Corps, assigned to the staff of General William T. Sherman during his Georgia campaign. At the war’s end he came west with General Sherman, but ultimately left the army and acquired a plantation near DeValls Bluff in Arkansas. During Reconstruction he joined the state Republican Party, served a term in Congress, received an appointment as United States Marshal, then became a prominent banker in Little Rock. In many ways he appears to fit the stereotypical definition of a “carpetbagger,” a northerner who came South to take advantage of the prostrate South. Was he such an individual? This presentation, based in part on his unpublished 1865 Civil War Diary, assesses the motives and character of this prominent Arkansan.
Special thanks to corporate sponsors for the 2012-2013 season—Friday, Eldredge, & Clark; Union Pacific Railroad; Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings; and the Teaching American History Program of the Little Rock School District 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.