Humanities in Class Webinars

NHC Webinars

Live, interactive webinars connect educators with scholars and experts in humanities fields to discuss compelling topics. Webinars are free of charge but require registration.

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2021–22 Schedule

You are now able to register for multiple webinars at once. You will be prompted to create an account on our digital library first, and then you will be able to access the new webinar portal. Registration opens August 16, 2021 at 10 a.m. EST.

Fall 2021 Semester

Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

August 31, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: David Zucchino (Journalist, Writer, and Contributing Author, New York Times)

Watch the Recording

This webinar, based on Zuccino's 2021 Pulitzer Prize–winning book, will discuss the causes and the lasting legacy of the 1898 white supremacist coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, the only armed overthrow of an elected government in United States history. White supremacists spent months planning the coup, in which they burned the city's Black newspaper and shot dead at least 60 Black men. The goal of the coup plotters was to insure that Black men did not vote or hold public office in North Carolina ever again. Their target was a multi-racial government in Wilmington, home to a thriving Black middle class in the largest Black-majority city in the South. On Nov. 10, 1898, a mob of nearly 2,000 armed white supremacists removed the mayor, city council and police chief at gunpoint and installed coup leaders in their place. The coup instituted white supremacy as official state policy for then next seven decades and prevented Black citizens from voting in any appreciable numbers in North Carolina until after passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Anxious Politics: Democracy in the Age of Partisanship

September 2, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Shana Gadarian (Professor and Department Chair, Political Science, Syracuse University)

Watch the Recording

Emotions matter in politics—enthusiastic supporters return politicians to office, angry citizens march in the streets, a fearful public demands protection from the government. The webinar will explore the emotional life of politics, with particular emphasis on how political anxieties affect public life. When the world is scary, when politics is passionate, when the citizenry is anxious, does this politics resemble politics under more serene conditions? If politicians use threatening appeals to persuade citizens, how does the public respond? Anxious Politics argues that political anxiety triggers engagement in politics in ways that are potentially both promising and damaging for democracy.

Strongmen and Dictators

September 9, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Ruth Ben-Ghiat (Professor of History, New York University)

Watch the Recording

Ours is the age of the strongman, the leader who destroys or damages democracy and uses masculinity as a tool of political legitimacy. This webinar discusses the authoritarian playbook—corruption, violence, machismo, and propaganda—and how people have resisted it for one hundred years.

Energizing the Past

September 14, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Christopher Jones (Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Arizona State University)

Watch the Recording

Energy humanities has become an exciting and growing topic of study. This talk introduces key questions and insights energy humanists have offered and draws on the research of the author to offer examples of how paying attention to energy provides new insight into the understanding of the American past.

James Baldwin’s America and Ours Today

September 16, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. (James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Chair of the Department of African American Studies, Princeton University)

Watch the Recording

Dr. Glaude looks at Baldwin’s world and sees our own moment reflected back. Like Baldwin, Glaude argues, we live in the after times—in Baldwin’s case of the Civil Rights movement, and in our times of the Obama presidency and the promise of Black Lives Matter. In both cases, America responded to a challenge to the existing racial order by reasserting what Glaude calls the lie: the broad and powerful architecture of false assumptions by which white lives are valued more than others.

The Mythology of the Lost Cause

September 21, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Caroline Janney (John L. Nau III, Professor in History of American Civil War and Director, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History, University of Virginia)

How did the Confederate myth of the Lost Cause develop? Why was it important for ex-Confederates to establish their "history" of the war? And why has this version of the past continued to offer such a powerful hold more than 160 years after the Civil War? This webinar will exam the origins, architects, and lasting influence of the Confederacy's most enduring legacy.

Japanese American Citizenship in WWII: A Study in Color and Black and White

September 28, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Eric Muller (Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor, School of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

National Council for the Social Studies

When the US government forced American citizens of Japanese ancestry from their homes and into concentration camps in 1942, it pushed them into a binary world: Were their loyalties with America or with Japan? This black-and-white model concealed the varied, vibrant colors of Japanese American identities. An extremely rare cache of candid color photographs shot behind barbed wire by Bill Manbo, a prisoner, allow us to explore both the racist sterility of the government’s understanding of citizenship and the many-hued richness of Japanese American life and resiliency in the camps.

Eugenics on Trial: The Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt

September 30, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Wendy Kline (Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine, Purdue University)

Today, few Americans are aware of the country’s historic role in the eugenics movement. The campaigns of the early 20th-century that focused on coercive sterilization practices and marriage restrictions offer a disturbing portrait of a racist and regulatory culture. Bodily rights seemed completely overlooked in the name of eugenics, as fears about who should be allowed to reproduce trumped reproductive choice.

This webinar explores the historical significance of eugenics in America by delving into a highly publicized court case in 1936. Twenty-one-year-old Ann Cooper Hewitt, heiress to her late father’s millions, sued her mother and two surgeons for surgically sterilizing her without her knowledge. The case positioned eugenic sterilization as an ideal solution to salvaging the American family at a time when the nuclear family became a central subject of public policy and popular debate. According to sociologists, the American family emerged as an institution essential for surviving the Depression but also threatened by it. The Cooper Hewitt case introduced sterilization as a social stabilizer to the American public, affirming that, in the words of Herbert Hoover, “there shall be no child in America that has not the complete birthright of a sound mind in a sound body.” We will explore the long-term impact of this claim in the 21st century.

Teaching with Photographs

October 5, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Martha A. Sandweiss (Professor of History, Princeton University)

All too often, historians use photographs simply to illustrate what they've already learned from other sources. But how can we use photographs as primary sources in and of themselves to understand the past? In this interactive webinar, we'll consider photographs as material objects, thinking about what their physical form can tell us about how they were made and used. Together, we'll look at some oft-used photographs from American history, thinking about the stories they can tell us. Finally, I hope we can look together at some photographs submitted by webinar participants, thinking about how we could approach them with our students.

Pox, Populism, and Politics: Three Centuries of American Vaccination Controversies

October 12, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Robert Johnston (Professor of History and Director, Teaching of History Program, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Mass vaccine hesitancy, along with outright opposition to immunization, is by no means solely an artifact of the COVID-19 era. Rather, controversies over vaccination in American history go back literally three centuries, to an intense conflict in Puritan Boston that inspired an assassination attempt on Cotton Mather. This seminar will explore this long history, focusing on three periods: the early eighteenth century, the Progressive Era, and the decades after World War II. We will especially reflect on the complex legacy of populism in all of these conflicts. Using this conceptual lens inspires us to see vaccination struggles as important episodes in the complex history of American democracy, involving issues such as civil liberties, bodily autonomy, governmental coercion, eugenics, natural medicine, conspiracy theories, and popular understandings of science. Ultimately, we can hope that a more complex history might inspire a more complex evaluation of the ways in which vaccination politics play out in the present day.

The Great Migration: Different Perspectives

October 14, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Marcia Chatelain (Professor of History and African American Studies, Georgetown University)

The Great Migration was the mass movement of mostly rural Black Southerners to the urban North and Midwest between 1916 and 1970. It was one of the most important moments in American history and reconfigured the nation’s politics, arts, and culture.

As millions of people confronted the challenges of a new labor market, housing segregation, and Northern racism, African American communities redefined themselves as representative of Southern sensibilities and Northern realities.

Problems in Latinx Representation and Storytelling

October 21, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Christopher González (Professor of English and Director of the Latinx Cultural Center, Utah State University)

This talk examines the complicated issue of Latinx representation in speculative cinema. While we ought to recognize the problems inherent when a non-Latinx actor plays a Latinx character—should Latinx actors only be relegated to Latinx roles? And how does one determine Latinx identity on film? How is Latinx identity expressed in a speculative film? Here I explore the dynamics of this vexed issue and consider how narrative permissibility factors not only into the stories that are told, but also in how characters are brought to the screen in speculative cinema.

Speak of the Devil: Teaching Histories of the Supernatural

October 26, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Michelle Brock (Associate Professor of History, Washington and Lee University)

Few subjects are more fascinating than the supernatural. Popular culture is suffused with images of demons, witches, werewolves, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. These figures have long, complicated histories that are deeply intertwined with issues of religion, gender, politics, art, and more. But how do we approach something as elusive as belief in super- and preternatural beings? This webinar uses the histories of two figures that loom large in our collective imagination—the devil and the witch—to demonstrate how explorations of the supernatural offer unique opportunities for students to engage with difficult yet essential questions about knowledge, power, and human nature.

Decolonizing the Shakespeare Curriculum

November 4, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Ayanna Thompson (Regents Professor of English, Arizona State University)

Recently there have been many discussions about decolonizing the curriculum. What does this mean for the teaching of Shakespeare? As Gauri Viswanathan explored in her groundbreaking book Masks of Conquest, Shakespeare’s place in the English literary curriculum was at its heart a colonial endeavor. Does this history mean that we should eschew teaching Shakespeare’s plays? Does this mean that a decolonized approach to the curriculum would disallow the inclusion of Shakespeare? No. As many LGBTQ scholars and activists have been teaching us lately: we have been brainwashed into binary thinking. We have been taught to view things in binary terms: either/or. This webinar will explore what decolonized thinking and teaching entails.

Reckoning with the Role of Systemic Racism in Sparking the ’92 L.A. Riots

November 9, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Jody David Armour (Professor of Law, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California)

The ’92 L.A. Riots erupted after a Simi Valley jury acquitted four officers despite a graphic video of them brutally beating a black motorist named Rodney King. This webinar explores the similarities and differences between the social unrest related to the King video and that sparked by the 9 minute and 29 second George Floyd video. It lays out the legal, social, and political lessons we can take from the ’92 Riots and apply to current criminal justice controversies.

Beyond Civil Rights: Dr. Martin Luther King’s Activism in the 1960s

November 16, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Peniel Joseph (Professor of History, The University of Texas at Austin)

The work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is largely taught in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Students are familiar with the iconic events of in Washington D.C., Selma, and Birmingham. However, we focus less on his dedication to other causes, including the anti-Vietnam War activism and the Poor People’s Campaign. Historian Peniel Joseph provides insights in Dr. King’s work in addition to his leadership in the fight for Civil Rights.

The World of Plymouth Plantation

November 18, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Carla Pestana (Distinguished Professor of History and Appleby Chair, University of California, Los Angeles)

Plymouth Plantation is widely known as the site of a number of events important to early American history: the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the landing on a rock, a meeting with an indigenous man, a celebratory meal. Writers beginning in the 18th century extolled these moments, and over time they came to carry great symbolic weigh in explaining the origins and nature of the United States. The popular images of Plymouth treat it as isolated and singular, when in fact the plantation was connected to other places and dependent on those connections for its very survival. This talk will explore those connections and how they change our perception of Plymouth.

Will ’20s be ’30s? Narrative Journalism and Lessons From the Great Depression

December 2, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Dale Maharidge (Writer and Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University)

Despite a roaring market, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be fewer jobs for the bottom 40 percent of workers in the lowest paying jobs by 2029. The top quintile? Boom times. Over half of Americans are now living in what for them is essentially a Great Depression. This kind of economic disparity is gasoline for hate movements in any era and place on earth. If the cliché of the past being prologue holds true, knowledge of the 1930s may prepare us for what’s next, especially in the critical years between now and the elections of 2022 and 2024.

The Murder is the Message: Video Games and U.S. Foreign Policy

December 7, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Daniel Bessner (Associate Professor, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington)

This talk will explore the geopolitical and political messages expressed in the most recent entry in the "Call of Duty" video game series, which is titled "Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War," as a means to investigate the concept of "imperialist realism."

Southern Journey: The Migrations of the American South, 1790–2020

December 9, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Edward L. Ayers (Center Trustee; President Emeritus; Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities, University of Richmond)

Teachers of history sometimes have a hard time making big social processes comprehensible to students. Southern Journey, like the other components of New American History, tries a new approach. The maps of this book and digital project, using novel and attractive techniques, show how the Black, white, Native, and immigrant people of the American South moved across more than two centuries. The domestic trade in enslaved people, the dislocations of the Civil War, the Great Migration, and the current surge of in-migration across the South appear in compelling and comprehensible ways.

Teaching the Bible in Public Schools? History, Controversies, and Prospects

December 14, 2021   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Mark Chancey (Professor of Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Southern Methodist University)

Many educators would agree that at least some familiarity with the Bible is important for cultural literacy, given the Bible's impact on music, art, literature, and, of course, religion. But teaching about the Bible in public school settings has often proven controversial, legally and politically. This webinar provides a historical overview of how public schools have taught about the Bible from the 1800s to the present. It also discusses resources that can help educators teach about the Bible in ways that are legally and academically appropriate.


Spring 2022 Semester

Superhero Thought Experiments

January 5, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Nathaniel Goldberg (Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Washington and Lee University)

What would happen if lightning struck a tree in a swamp and transformed it into The Swampman, or if saving billions of lives required sacrificing millions first? The first is a philosophical thought experiment devised by Donald Davidson, the second a theme from a comic written by Alan Moore. I argue that that comics can be read as containing thought experiments and that such philosophical devices should be shared with students of all ages.

How Islam is Portrayed in Comics

January 13, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Maryanne Rhett (Professor of History and Anthropology, Monmouth University)

During this webinar we will discuss how Islam and Muslims have been, and continue to be, portrayed in comics and other forms of sequential art since the 1800s through today. Focusing largely on US comics the discussion will also take into account global examples including, but not limited to, works from Canada, Spain, and various elements of the Punch "empire."

How to Break Up with Your Favorite Racist Children’s Books

January 18, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Philip Nel (University Distinguished Professor of English, Kansas State University)

National Council for the Social Studies

Why do we struggle with admitting how pain and love are entangled in in cherished artifacts of our childhood? In this talk, I argue that confronting this fact is the best way to dismantle the White-supremacist delusion of “cancel culture,” to develop more complex relationships with favorite works of our youth, and to create a more inclusive, diverse culture for contemporary children.

Global Call of Power to the People

January 20, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Jakobi Williams (Fellow, 2016–17; Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor and Chair, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Department of History, Indiana University)

How did the Black Panther Party influence the world? We will examine the monumental impact of the Black Panther Party (BPP) on non-African American groups both domestically and abroad as a model for grassroots community organizing to address disparities and disadvantages. Moreover, the lesson will demonstrate why and how groups emulated the BPP as a means for political and social change and will highlight the transnational importance of African American grassroots political activism. Global Call of Power to the People is a study of groups in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Palestine, Italy, and India that did not have any direct contact with the BPP but chose to create movements in their countries modeled after the Panthers grassroots community organizing and racial coalition strategies.

Forty Acres in the Twenty-First Century: Black Reparations Today

January 25, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Kirsten Mullen (Founding Director, Artefactual) and William A. Darity (Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy and African and African American Studies, Duke University; NHC Fellow, 1989–90)

In 2010 legal scholar Alfred Brophy wrote, “Something that is often missing from ‘reparations talk’ is a specific plan for repairing past tragedies.” In this webinar, we fill Brophy’s lacuna, engaging in a conversation over a detailed redress plan for the atrocities visited upon multiple generations of Black American descendants of persons enslaved in the United States. The detailed redress plan, drawn from our book From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, will explore the following aspects of an African American reparations project: who will be eligible, what is the size of the fund, how the fund will be distributed, and how the fund will be financed. The case for Black reparations will be made not only on the basis of the atrocity of slavery but also nearly a century of legal segregation accompanied by white terrorist campaigns and ongoing harms including mass incarceration, police executions of unarmed Blacks, and discrimination in multiple arenas.

The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began

January 27, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Valerie Hansen (Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University)

Please join me for a tour around the world in the year 1000. We will travel along known routes and use transport of the time. (Spoiler alert: it will take us much longer than 80 days!) Beginning in China, we'll see Southeast and South Asia on our way to Baghdad, the center of the Islamic world, go overland across Europe, sail to North America, and weigh the evidence for ocean travel between Ecuador and Polynesia.

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

February 1, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Jeanne Theoharis (Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College)

Rosa Parks is a familiar figure in textbooks. Yet much of what people learn about Mrs. Parks is narrow, distorted, or just plain wrong. She’s trapped in a single moment on a long-ago Montgomery bus, too often cast as meek, tired, quiet and middle class. The boycott is seen as a natural outgrowth of her bus stand. But that’s not who she was, and it’s not how change actually works. She had a "life history of being rebellious"–beginning two decades before her bus stand and continuing for forty years after in Detroit. This webinar will provide an overview of Parks' life of freedom fighting and what it shows about our history and our present.

The Misquoted Lincoln

February 8, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Kate Masur (Professor of History, Northwestern University)

Perhaps no American president is more revered – or more quotable – than Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is regularly cited on such topics as political polarization, leadership, slavery, and race. But Lincoln said so much, so well, that it’s far easier to quote him than to really understand him. In this webinar, we'll examine some key Lincoln lines in their historical context, developing a robust sense of what Lincoln meant and how they would have sounded in his own era.

Who Counts in Capitalism? The Case of the Early Cigarette Industry

February 17, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Nan Enstad (Buttel-Sewell Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Too often, the history of corporate capitalism is told as a story of “great men” who innovated by creating new labor systems and irresistible commodities. The reality is far more interesting. This webinar puts the ordinary people who built the early the cigarette industry, before the dangers of smoking were understood, at the forefront. Hundreds of working-class, white-collar Southerners created the cigarette industry during the Jim Crow segregation era; when these men took the industry to China, they brought white supremacy with it. But Black farmers and factory workers also built this industry. Though subject to racism at work, Black workers used their paychecks to bring the greatest jazz musicians of the twentieth century to small tobacco towns, while Black jazz musicians played a global circuit, including in Shanghai, China. By seeing capitalism as built by people, elements of creativity and resistance become points of discussion.

Beyond the Legend: Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Movement

February 24, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Matthew Garcia (Ralph and Richard Lazarus Professor of History, Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, and Human Relations, Dartmouth University)

In September 1962, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) convened its first convention in Fresno, California, initiating a movement that would result in the creation of United Farm Workers and the first contracts for farm workers in the state of California in 1970. Led by Cesar Chavez, the union contributed a number of innovations to the art of social protest, including the most successful consumer boycott in the history of the United States. By the mid-1970s, the United Farm Workers pursued justice within the boundaries of a state law, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, and the implementation of state-monitored union elections on California farms in 1976. In spite of these triumphs, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers lost their way by the late 1970s, never to regain the strength they enjoyed during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In his presentation, Matt Garcia, author of From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement (University of California Press, 2012), discusses the lessons from the movement and why it is important to hold Cesar Chavez accountable for its failure to achieve its primary goal: the establishment of a national farm worker union. Garcia avoids presenting Chavez as an apotheosized saint prevalent in most other renditions of this history. Rather, Garcia reveals him to be a man subject to emotions and impulses that shape all of us. His presentation explores the consequences of more than forty years of Chavez hagiography and why we need to begin exploring the complexities of his character and the union he lead. Ultimately Garcia argues for a new look at this history that contributes to a stronger, more accountable food justice movement today.

Searching for Wakanda: The Historical Roots of Black Panther

March 1, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Thomas McDow (Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University)

What can comics teach us about African history, the Cold War, and African American activism? The 2018 blockbuster movie Black Panther brought Afro-Futurism to the big screen to tell the story of T'challa, the king of Wakanda, a mythical African nation that is the world’s most advanced civilization. The film was based on the Marvel hero Black Panther who first appeared in comics in 1966, months before the Black Panther Party named itself. By looking at the origins of Wakanda and the Black Panther, however, we see how comics creators drew on African history, atomic-era science, and Black activism in the U.S. to create an enduring hero with a backstory steeped in real world history.

Teaching Language as Archive: Creole and Colonialism in Mauritius

March 3, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Elsa Wiehe (K-16 Education Program Outreach Manager, African Studies Center, Boston University)

French language and world history teachers are often searching for entry-points to teach about questions of language, power, and colonialism in Africa. Language is a frequently overlooked domain when studying larger historical processes. Using Mauritian Creole language – "Kreol" – as an archive, this webinar will provide a lens to understand language development under situations of settler colonialism, enslavement, and indenture. It will also raise core questions to teach about Kreol's relationship to French, asking: In which ways was language used as mode of domination of people’s identities? How did Kreol emerge as a response to colonial language policies? How did the science of etymology contribute to the continued misrepresentation of Kreol? What are the continued struggles for the legitimization of Kreol and how do these connect to a larger project of decolonization?

Bound by War: How the United States and the Philippines Built America’s First Pacific Century

March 8, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Christopher Capozzola (Professor and Head of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Primary Source

Linking military history to histories of immigration and civil rights, Bound by War tells the story of the United States and the Philippines through the wars the two nations fought together. Ever since U.S. troops occupied the Philippines in 1898, generations of Filipinos have served in the U.S. armed forces. Their service reshaped Philippine society and politics and brought tens of thousands of Filipinos to America, where World War II veterans fought a decades-long legal struggle to win citizenship and veterans benefits.

Looking Backward: America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Socialism

March 10, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Beverly Gage (Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University)

The word “socialism” has made its way into American politics a lot recently. But "socialist" largely remains a dirty, and often misunderstood, term in the realm of U.S. politics. During the Cold War, anti-Soviet sentiments and McCarthyism, a campaign against alleged communists in the U.S., are largely to thank for that. So what is socialism? Beverly Gage traces the evolution of the concept of socialism in American history, from the utopian vision of Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” in the late 19th century to the weaponization of the term in 21st century politics.

Rough Beasts and Pale Riders: Reading Interwar Literature through a Pandemic Lens

March 15, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Elizabeth Outka (Professor of English, University of Richmond)

The 1918–1919 influenza pandemic killed 50–100 million people worldwide, with the United States losing more people in the outbreak than it did in all the 20th and 21st century wars, combined. Arriving just as WWI was ending, the pandemic brought a non-human, invisible horror into every community. The viral tragedy has been largely hidden, but when we recover the sights and sounds of the pandemic, and its widespread devastation, the outbreak emerges as a vast, catastrophic trauma haunting interwar culture. This webinar offers a sensory and emotional history of the pandemic and explores two key pandemic texts, W. B. Yeats’ iconic poem “The Second Coming,” and Katherine Anne Porter’s novella “Pale Horse, Pale Rider.” These works showcase the often surprising ways Anglophone literature encoded the conditions of the pandemic—and the ways this literature resonates through our current global crisis.

What Can Richard Pryor and Archie Bunker Teach Us about Teaching Offensive Language?

March 22, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Scott Saul (Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley)

Richard Pryor may have been the most unlikely star in Hollywood history. Raised in his family’s brothels, in Peoria, Illinois, he could alchemize his stand-up by delving fully, even painfully, into the “off-color” life he'd known. Starring bigoted Archie Bunker, “All in the Family” won numerous Emmys and Golden Globe awards until it ended in 1979. Humor is tricky. It often offends, sometimes deliberately. But humor also has the capability to keep open dialogue about racial and other sensitive issues and to promote self-awareness. Scott Saul will discuss ways in which language and expression can shift in the cultural and political context of eras, geographies, and current events. In an era of "cancel culture", we will explore ways language – even offensive language – can be used for healing.

Teaching U.S. History Narratives through Latin American Perspectives

March 31, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Christina Villarreal (Assistant Professor of History, The University of Texas at El Paso)

Narratives of U.S. history, following an east-to-west trajectory focused on British and Anglo-American colonialism, often take the ascendency of the nation as a foregone conclusion. This pattern ignores the long history of indigenous domination and the experiences of other empires and peoples. Shifting focus to center different geographic regions—the Gulf Coast, the Southwest, and the West Coast—reveals a multitude of people and politics that shaped North America, allowing educators to teach a more contingent and complete story. In this webinar, participants will learn to use Latin American and Borderlands perspectives to think about space, place, and historical contingency in early American and U.S. history. By shifting geopolitical focus when teaching traditional narratives, educators can empower students to expand their understandings of the nation’s past, present, and future.

The War on Drugs Turns Fifty

April 7, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: David Farber (Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of History, University of Kansas)

President Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs in June 1971. Since then the United States has spent over a trillion dollars fighting that war and more than thirty million Americans have been arrested on drug charges. In this webinar, we will explore the history of the War on Drugs, from the early struggles to combat heroin addiction through the crack cocaine crisis and the onslaught of mass incarceration, and up to contemporary debates about the legalization of cannabis.

The Environmental Impact of World War I

April 14, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Tait Keller (Fellow, 2018–19; Associate Professor and Chair of History, Rhodes College)

When considering the First World War’s environmental impact, we might immediately imagine the Western Front. Iconic images of No Man’s Land include ravaged farmlands, obliterated forests, and muddy quagmires of gore and death. However, the memory of desolation notwithstanding, human relationships with the natural world have changed little along those former frontlines. Paradoxically, major environmental change occurred behind the lines, away from the killing fields. To keep soldiers fed and military machines fueled, belligerent countries commandeered energy resources throughout the biosphere. Mobilizing natural resources for battle brought the war home to people far from the fighting. From an environmental lens of energy extraction, the Entente victory was impossible without colonial domination and racial oppression. By understanding how warfare and energy geopolitics coevolved over the course of the First World War we can better appreciate the intersections of armed conflict, human victimization, and environmental exploitation during the twentieth century and beyond.

#MeToo Movement in Historical Context

April 19, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Kimberly Hamlin (Professor of History, Miami University)

What role has sexual assault played in our nation’s history? From Pocahontas to enslavement to today? How have women fought to change behaviors, cultural norms, and public policies regarding sexual assault? Race, racism, and intersectionality will be key themes of this webinar because sexual violence has long been used as a tool of white supremacy and because women of color have often led the fight against harassment and assault. Based on Professor Kimberly Hamlin's #MeToo: A Cultural History course at Miami University, this webinar will provide historical context for the #MeToo Movement as well as suggestions for how to incorporate this material into both undergraduate and K-12 curriculum.

The Causes, Controversies, and Consequences of Brexit

April 28, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Daniel Kelemen (Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University)

In its June 23 (2016) Referendum, 51.9% of UK voters elected to leave the European Union. Daniel Kelemen breaks down the complicated path of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU – or Brexit. More than a removed political decision in another country, Keleman describes the short- and long-term ramifications of this decision on the global economy and political structure.

Memorials are Blunt Instruments: Commemoration at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Beyond

May 5, 2022   7:00–8:30 pm EST
Lead Scholar: Kristin Hass (Associate Professor of American Culture, Coordinator for Humanities Collaboratory, University of Michigan)

National Council for the Social Studies

Why would someone bring a can of beer to a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.? Why would someone project a photograph of Breonna Taylor, a black health care worker killed in her sleep during a global pandemic, onto the base of a memorial to Robert E. Lee? The short answer to these questions is that memorials, even when they seem silent and dusty, really matter to Americans. This webinar will offer a short history of memorials in the U.S. and will focus on the collection of tens of thousands of objects left at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to explore what these things, and these memorials, can tell us about how Americans have worked to define who belongs and who matters; It will open up a conversation about how and why memorials have been shockingly effective in marking these crucial, often brutal distinctions.