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Evenings with History

Evenings with History

The 2013-2014 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’s lecture series will focus on how history is done, thus the use of an image of Clio, the muse of history, for this year’s brochure cover is particularly appropriate. If you ever wondered how historians “do” history, how they formulate research agendas and identify sources this is the series for you. This year’s lectures should allow you to catch a glimpse into what some might call the twisted mind of a scholar. You can learn about uncovering the character of Alexander the Great; see the development of an understanding of Irish social problems and the impact of such a study on public policy; find out how new sources can change what we know about a major organization such as the Southern Tenant Farmers Union; discover the avenues to comprehending American-Jordanian relations; get to know how the lives of powerless people in the Dutch colonies in American can be uncovered; and become aware of the ways medieval historians examine documents to reveal the actual religious beliefs of the people of that era.

The six sessions of the 2013-2014 Evenings with History series will be on the first Tuesday of October, November, and December of 2013 and February, March, and April of 2014. 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.

2013-2014 Evenings with History Series.

October 1–Edward Anson. The Character of Alexander the Great

Professor Anson has been working for many years examining aspects of the life of Alexander the Great but wanted to write something about who he was as opposed to what he did. Ancient history presents unique problems for the historian. Sources seldom are contemporary with the topic studied. Standards of behavior often do not coincide with those of today. This talk examines Professor Anson’s efforts to establish the character of Alexander, which resulted in his new book, Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues. Simply detailing what Alexander did produces serious difficulties, but getting into the mind of someone who lived more than two thousand years ago turns out to be even more difficult. Anson offers insights into how the historian uses the evidence of antiquity to overcome these barriers

November 5–Moira Maguire. “From Kerry Babies to Precarious Childhood:  The Evolution of Research Agenda

Professor Maguire’s presentation traces the evolution of one research agenda, from the graduate student essay that formed the basis of a doctoral dissertation to the commissioned research project that led ultimately to the publication of her new book, Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland. Focusing on issues such as unwed motherhood, neglected and abused children, adoption, and family dysfunction and pointing up the gap between the rhetoric of government and the Catholic church and their policies, her study addresses questions at the forefront of public discourse in Ireland. Producing such a relevant work means that “doing” history also may inform public policy. Her talk will show how her research has figured in the work of two Irish commissions examining the treatment of women and children in state-run institutions in the first half of the twentieth century.

December 3– James Ross. “What Lay Behind the Southern Tenant Farmer’s Union?”

The standard narrative involving the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, a union to organize tenant farmers begun in 1934, is that a group of white and black sharecroppers put aside their racial differences and worked together to protest the sharecropping system. Professor Ross’s talk shows how by examining different sources, as he did in his new book, The Rise and Fall of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in Arkansas, the traditional story was turned on its head. Using the letters of the rank and file members of the Union rather than the correspondence of the leadership that formed the basis for earlier studies produced a radically different interpretation of the character of that organization. Rather than integration, Ross found segregation and racial tensions that paved the way for the Union’s disintegration. The desire for moral reform of a system many members believed was sinful proved a more important force in the organization than a radical desire to overturn a capitalist labor system.

February 4–Clea Hupp. “Understanding United States, Jordanian Relations”

Diplomatic history often presents unique research problems. Professor Clea Hupp’s new book, Jordan and the United States, 1948-1970, exposes the flaws and misunderstandings that plagued United States policy in Jordan through the Cold War years. Hupp sees the central problem in these relationships as resulting from the pursuit of conflicting goals for the area by policy makers. How does the historian arrive at such conclusions? Professor Hupp shows how her study used sources in many traditional repositories such as four presidential libraries (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson), National Archives II (the Nixon Papers), the Public Records Office in London, and the Hashemite Court papers, but also information gleaned from personal interviews with key Jordanian officials in Amman.

March 4–Susanah Romney. “Finding of the Women in the Atlantic World:  Adventures in the Archives”

Based on her new award-winning book, New Netherland Connections, Professor Susanah Romney, one of our newest faculty members, invites the audience to come along on a trip back to Dutch New York in the 1600s. She will discuss the kinds of documents that can let us see into the world of the Indians, slaves and settlers who built one of the first settler colonies in North America. In the early Hudson Valley, women and men from all these groups created diverse communities based around the fur trade, relying on their personal and family ties to create a new economy and society. She shows how historians piece together the lives and actions of people who did not hold power and never left any documents of their own.

April 1–Laura Smoller. “Discovering Lived Religion in the Middle Ages and Beyond-In Pursuit of the Chopped-Up Baby”

This talk addresses the origins and methods behind Professor Laura Smoller’s new book, The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. As with ancient history, finding sources to answer questions about medieval life can be difficult, particularly so when one turns to questions of religious belief and practice. She will speak to the importance of manuscript work for medieval scholars, the methods of creatively reading medieval sources to get at voices that otherwise would be lost to history, and the role of serendipity in historical research. In Smoller’s case, what began nearly twenty years ago as a small study of local religion in fifteenth-century Brittany transformed itself into a sprawling investigation of the cult of a new saint, extending in time and space across the Atlantic and to the threshold of the modern era. Smoller will discuss the ways in which such a project can grow organically, as an immersion in the sources guides the scholar into unexpected areas of inquiry.

Special thanks to corporate sponsors for the 2013-2014 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.

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Union Pacific




Updated 9.11.2013