Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Adriane Lentz-Smith, Associate Professor of History, African-American Studies, and Women’s Studies, Duke University This webinar examines the relationship between white supremacy and the making of America in the long twentieth century. For many white Americans at the turn of the last century, “white supremacy” was a political program and a battle cry. A response to black freedom struggles, changing populations, and new economic orders, white supremacy set the boundaries of citizenship rights, national belonging, and economic possibility. How did this work? How were these boundaries enforced? And when did white supremacy lose its mainstream viability? Join us as we focus on three mechanisms—political disfranchisement; extralegal violence; and federal policy—which help us explore these questions about the workings of white supremacy and open up new ways of approaching its history.
The Century of the Child: American Children in the Twentieth Century
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Jim Marten, Chair, Department of History, Marquette University The Swedish sociologist Ellen Key predicted in 1900 that the twentieth century would be “the century of the child.” It was, in a way, as Americans embraced the notion of a protected, nurtured childhood that had first appeared in the early nineteenth century and became the model for all childhoods within a few generations. This webinar will examine the efforts to realize Key’s prediction through child welfare reform, which included everything from building playgrounds to creating the Children’s Bureau (1912), and from the campaign against child labor to the extraordinary improvements in child health. But we will also examine the bitter irony of Key’s phrase, as war, depression, and politics interrupted the march toward perfect childhoods. Throughout, American children will be placed in a global context, and whenever possible the points of view of children will provide texture to the discussion of policies. As the historian Joseph Hawes once said, childhood is “where you catch a culture in high relief,” and the twentieth century provides a true measure of the potential as well as the limits of American society’s commitment to its children.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Jesus Costantino, Assistant Professor of English, University of New Mexico At first glance, a graphic novel is nothing more than a comic that can stand on a bookshelf; however, graphic novels have a history distinct from, and in fraught relationship to, both comics and novels. While graphic novels grew out of the countercultural underground comics scene of the 1960s and 1970s, the form also gave (some) comics mainstream legitimacy by bringing (some) comics out of comic shops and into bookstores. The question of legitimacy continues to define the graphic novel, both in its form and in its, often non-normative, content. Drawing on key example texts, this webinar will explore the history of the graphic novel and of its cultural legitimacy.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Michael Klarman, Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, Harvard University Everybody has heard of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision, which held that state-mandated segregation of public education was unconstitutional. But how representative was Brown of the Supreme Court’s contributions to racial equality in American history? Have the Court’s rulings, on the whole, been more helpful or harmful to the cause of racial equality? What role did the Court play in the civil rights movement of the 1960s? And what has the Court generally done since that time with regard to educational segregation, race-based affirmative action, minority voting rights, and racial issues in the criminal justice context?
Five Myths About North Korea: History and (Mis)Perception since the 1950s
Thursday, November 30, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Sung-Yoon Lee, Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have never seemed more strained. As North Korea seeks to expand its nuclear weapons program and ability to launch long-range missiles, policymakers in the United States have doubled down on their commitment to protecting regional allies and to keeping economic sanctions in place. Conflict seems all but inevitable. But is this really the case? Join us as Professor Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University situates the current standoff within historical context and challenges common misconceptions about North Korean politics and society. We’ll unravel the history of U.S. involvement in the Korean Peninsula, analyze potential paths going forward, and discuss how you can help your students better understand the contexts and nuances of U.S.-North Korean relations, past and present.
Thursday, December 7, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: William I. Hitchcock, Professor of History, University of Virginia Americans are justly proud of the role their country played in liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny. But in celebrating the success of United States soldiers, we often forget to consider the human cost of war. The liberation of Europe in 1944-45 provides an opportunity to study the American victory alongside the tragic suffering of civilians who were caught in the crossfire. This webinar is for teachers who want to expose their students to the extraordinary events of the Second World War’s climactic battle—the Battle of Normandy—while also including in our study of war the high price paid by families, women and children, refugees, and humanitarian relief workers who toil in the shadow of powerful armies.
Thursday, December 14, 2017 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Andrew Hoberek, Professor of English, University of Missouri-Columbia This webinar explores the relationship between post-1960 U.S. foreign policy and the form and content of American fiction written during the same period. For our purposes, we’ll divide this timespan into three rough stages: the optimistic Kennedy era, when fiction engages U.S. goals of helping newly independent nations achieve American-style modernization; the post-Vietnam years, when a broader cultural retrenchment is reflected in the spare, domestically-focused school of fiction known as “minimalism”; and the period following 9/11, when fiction addresses U.S. foreign policy as something whose effects are once again directly felt at home. Authors whose works we might discuss include Ian Fleming (an honorary American, given Kennedy’s appreciation of his work), Harper Lee, Don DeLillo, Bobbie Ann Mason, Joseph O’Neill, Junot Díaz, and Yaa Gyasi.
Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Yohuru Williams, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of St. Thomas In this presentation, Dr. Yohuru Williams explores the history of the struggle for racial equality in the United States from the Civil Rights era through the contemporary Black Lives Matter Movement with an exploration of key episodes and moments in U.S. history using a variety of primary sources.
Suckers and Swindlers: Business Fraud in the History of American Capitalism
Thursday, January 18, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Edward Balleisen, Associate Professor of History and Public Policy, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, Duke UniversityNHC Fellow 2009-10 Capitalism depends on trust, and so always creates opportunities for economic deception. As a result of America’s embrace of innovation and openness to the slick sell, the avenues for duplicity have been especially broad in the modern United States. This webinar will examine the American experience with business fraud since the early nineteenth century—the enduring difficulties of defining fraud; the characteristics of the worst fraud scandals; and the evolution of institutional attempts to contain its corrosive impacts. Join us to explore this important lens on American economic culture, as well as ways that you can bring team-based historical research into your classrooms.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Matthew Booker, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State UniversityNHC Fellow 2016–17 Teacher Leader: Kim Gilman, pre-AP and ESL social studies and geography teacher Nineteenth-century Americans generally ate locally. While luxuries like coffee, tea, and sugar connected them to the global economy, refrigeration, transportation, and income forced most people to eat seasonal and regional foods. Farmers recycled human and animal waste. The rise of the industrial city, with its immigrant populations, networked economies, and steam-powered workplaces, profoundly challenged that older system. Unprecedented concentrations of people—New York had as many as 500 persons per square mile—overwhelmed local food producers, and extraordinary volumes of human waste led to disease epidemics. Most people encountered these consequences of modern life through their food and drink, both of which became the focus of consumer fear and governmental regulation. This webinar will use a forgotten staple, oysters, to explore the risks of industrialization and the consequences of environmental protections.
Thursday, February 8, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Diane Moore, Director, Religious Literacy Project and the Certificate in Religious Studies and Education, Harvard Divinity School Religions have functioned throughout human history to inspire and justify the full range of human agency from the heinous to the heroic. Their influences remain potent at the dawn of the 21st century in spite of modern predictions that religious influences would steadily decline in concert with the rise of secular democracies and advances in science. Understanding these complex religious influences is a critical dimension of understanding modern human affairs across the full spectrum of endeavors in local, national, and global arenas. In this webinar, participants will be introduced to a method for how to discern and analyze the power of religion in contemporary and historical contexts.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Mary Caton Lingold, Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University Is literature a form of sound recording? If so, how can we listen to it? This webinar presents approaches for bringing the study of sound into the literature and history classroom. We will explore specifically how interpreting sounds in historical literature like slave narratives and colonial travel writing opens up new ways of understanding the American past, and specifically early African American experiences. The webinar also introduces a growing digital resource, The Sonic Dictionary, that is being created by university students to enhance the vocabulary of sonic experience.
Can A President Do That?: The Secret White House Tapes and Presidential Power
Thursday, February 22, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Kent Germany, Associate Professor of History, Director of Undergraduate studies, University of South Carolina In the 20th century, the power of the United States president expanded enormously, and each president had to learn what kind of power they had and how far they needed to stretch the limits of it. This webinar will use the once top secret White House Tapes of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon to explore three crucial crises that shaped answers to the question, “Can a President Do That?” 1) the Cuban Missile Crisis; 2) the FBI, Surveillance, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act; 3) Watergate and the Nixon's argument to David Frost that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”
Confederate Monuments and Contested Civic Space in the United States, 1865 to the 21st Century
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Fitzhugh Brundage, William B. Umstead Distinguished Professor; Department Chair, History, University of North Carolina, Chapel HillNHC Fellow 1995–96 Teacher Leader: Kevin Levin, Civil War historian and former history teacher Confederate monuments are the most common form of monumental public art in the former states of the Confederacy and Kentucky. These monuments are one of the most conspicuous and contested markers of regional identity. Exploring how the monuments were funded, created and dedicated reveals important insights into how power, privilege, and identity inform the history that graces the built spaces and landscapes in which we live. Although the webinar will focus on Confederate monuments, the historical questions provoked by these monuments are equally relevant to the study of the commemoration of other historical events, from the “conquest” of the American West to the Vietnam War. This webinar will use easily accessible materials, from the immediate postwar era to the present day, on Confederate monuments to discuss the commemoration of the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the recent controversies regarding the monuments. When were the monuments erected and what were the stated intentions of the people who erected them? How were the designs for the monuments selected and who participated in the design process? What does the evolution of the design of the monuments tell us about the meanings assigned to the Civil War and the Confederacy? Why are there Confederate monuments in Washington state, Arizona, and other communities far beyond the boundaries of the former Confederacy? Were their contemporaries who opposed the erection of the monuments or who erected monuments that offered a different perspective? When did the contemporary debate over the monuments begin and why?
Thursday, March 8, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EST Leader: Heather Thompson, Professor of History, University of Michigan As the twentieth century came to a close and the twenty-first began, something occurred in the United States that was both internationally unparalleled and historically unprecedented. Between 1970 and 2017 more people were incarcerated in this country than were imprisoned anywhere else in the world, and at no other point in this nation’s recorded past had the economic, social, and political institutions of a country become so bound up with the practice of punishment. This webinar will offer an overview of the origins of mass incarceration, as well as its implications for our nation’s cities and communities, our economy, and our very democracy. Via this webinar we will locate not only why we chose this policy path and what the fall out from that decision has been, but we will also consider where are we might be headed today with regard to matters of policing and prisons.
Secrecy and Democracy: The History of the FBI and CIA
Thursday, March 15, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Kathryn Olmstead, Professor of History, University of California, Davis Many Americans are fascinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but we know very little about their histories. This webinar will use recently declassified documents to analyze the histories of both agencies and of the controversies that they’ve inspired. What were the original purposes of each agency, and how have they changed over time? How did Americans learn about some of the most controversial programs (illegal surveillance by the FBI, assassination plots and drug testing by the CIA), and how did they react to these revelations? We will talk about how these real historical events help us understand the challenges of making sure America’s secret agencies are accountable to the public.
Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: David Greenberg, Professor, History, Journalism & Media Studies, Rutgers University Spin is everywhere in politics today. From the White House on down, every public official boasts an army of spin doctors devoted to ensuring that each pose and utterance is rendered in the best light. The pollsters test their messages, the speechwriters draft their words, the media gurus perfect the visuals, and the communications shop sells it to the press and public alike. We’re bombarded every day by these crafted slogans and choreographed routines—and by the equally relentless counterspin of the news media. In this webinar, presidential historian David Greenberg recounts the rise of the White House spin machine, from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama. He takes us behind the scenes to see how the tools and techniques of image making and message craft work. We meet Woodrow Wilson convening the first White House press conference, Franklin Roosevelt huddling with his private pollsters, Ronald Reagan’s aides crafting his nightly-news sound bites, and George W. Bush staging his “Mission Accomplished” photo-op. We meet, too, the backstage visionaries who pioneered new ways of gauging public opinion and mastering the media—figures like George Cortelyou, TR’s brilliantly efficient press manager; 1920s ad whiz Bruce Barton; Robert Montgomery, Dwight Eisenhower’s canny TV coach; and of course the key spinmeisters of our own times, from Roger Ailes to David Axelrod. In chronicling this forgotten history, Greenberg also examines the profound debates Americans have waged over the effect of spin on our politics. Does spin help our leaders manipulate the citizenry? Or does it allow them to engage us more fully in the democratic project? Exploring the ideas of the century’s most incisive political critics, from Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Hannah Arendt to Stephen Colbert, “The Rise of the White House Spin Machine” illuminates both the power of spin and its limitations—its capacity not only to mislead but also to lead.
From Democracy to Authoritarianism: The Death of the Roman Republic
Thursday, March 29, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Michael Fontaine, Assistant Professor of Classics, Cornell University Teacher Leader: Skye Shirley, Latin teacher Comparisons between ancient Rome and the United States are suddenly all around us. Why, and what do they portend? Right around the time Jesus was born, ancient Rome’s 500-year-old republic failed. Its traditions of representative elections, checks and balances, tolerance, and freedoms of movement and expression were swept away, never to recover. In their place rose the Roman Empire, an increasingly authoritarian and Orwellian structure that saw state-sponsored persecutions of minorities, artists, and dissidents at home, endless foreign wars abroad, and, eventually, even the requirement for all citizens to believe certain theological propositions. How did Rome transform in this way, and why did it never go back? This webinar will highlight political institutions, imperial expansion, the breakdown of republican institutions, the civil wars, and a few personalities whose names, 2000 years on, are still familiar to us all.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Luis Martínez-Fernández, Professor of History, University of Central Florida The Cuban Revolution that began in 1959 ranks high among the most momentous and impactful historical process in the history of the Americas. As a subject of study, the Revolution elicits passion and controversy, and much of what is said, written, and taught about it is highly politicized. This webinar explores innovative ways of looking at—and teaching—the Cuban Revolution that go beyond the usual topics (Castro’s personality and ideology, the Bay of Pigs, and the Missile Crisis). These include questions such as: why Cuba and not Mexico or Argentina? How did a small island nation attain such global preeminence as an ideological, military, artistic, and intellectual player? And, how does Cuba’s history as a sugar-based economy explain its contemporary situation? This webinar will include hands-on examination of stimulating primary sources that can be put to good use in the classroom (and online teaching-learning environments); among these are editorial cartoons, political slogans and posters, propaganda film clips, and historical artifacts such as ration books and tourist brochures.
Thursday, April 26, 2018 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Leader: Alex Woloch, Professor of English, Stanford University The year 1984 is now almost as far back in our past as it was far into Orwell’s future when he published his novel in 1948. But the book, unlike the year, has not simply dated. On the contrary, it seemed to surge back into contemporary relevance in the last year, briefly topping the bestseller list just after the 2017 presidential inauguration. Orwell’s novel, then, continues to hold political and literary significance, far outside of the Cold War context of its early reception. In his essay “Why I Write,” Orwell wrote: “What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art.” In this webinar, we’ll consider Orwell’s novel as an example of such political art. How do we understand 1984 as a deliberately crafted work of writing? How can we connect it to Orwell’s previous fifteen years as a prolific and experimental writer? What literary strategies and imaginative techniques underlie the tricky art of engaging politics through writing?