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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August 29, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Karl Warner, Historian and Program Manager, US Army Heritage and Education Center The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center’s motto is “Telling the Army’s Story, One Soldier at a Time.” The U.S. Army’s history is not just military history—it is also social, political, medical, economic, and technological history, just to name a few. The USAHEC is the U.S. Army’s primary archives and conservation center for preserving our individual soldier’s stories, making it the top resource for using Army primary sources in the classroom. This webinar will explore how the USAHEC’s primary source materials can fit into any history, social studies, civics, or STEM classroom. In addition, you will learn about professional development opportunities offered to teachers through the USAHEC.
“A Dangerous Unselfishness”: Understanding and Teaching the Complex History of Blackface
September 10, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Rhae Lynn Barnes, Assistant Professor of History, Princeton University When the news story broke that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and other politicians wore blackface and Klan regalia while in school, institutions across the nation suddenly were confronted with their all too recent blackface past. Princeton Professor Rhae Lynn Barnes, the foremost expert on amateur blackface minstrelsy, has spent over a decade cataloging 10,000 minstrel plays and uncovered their prolific use on Broadway, in schools, the military, churches, political organizations, and even the White House. This webinar will help educators master the basic history of blackface in America, strategies to discuss this difficult topic with students, and ways to think about the incredible social, political, and economic power blackface held as America’s most pervasive entertainment form in the American North and West between the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. By the end of this webinar, educators will be able to teach what a minstrel show was, how the genre developed, who participated in this form, how it was central to mass popular entertainment globally, they will be able to teach the construction of key stereotypes for minorities and women, and how it was pushed underground through a coordinated Civil Rights campaign after being openly celebrated for over a century.
“Are You Free to Read, See, Hear?”: Creating Consumer Rights out of the First Amendment
September 12, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Leigh Ann Wheeler, Professor of History, Binghamton University, State University New York Do you have the right to read any book you want? See any movie you want? Listen to any radio program you want? Do your students? Yes! (With a very few exceptions.) These rights to consume are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But during the Amendment’s 228 unchanging years at the top of our Bill of Rights, it has only protected consumers for the past sixty years. This webinar will help you think, teach, and argue about how, when, and why the First Amendment came to protect consumers’ rights and also what has been lost and what has been gained through that transformation.
September 17, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Bill Deverell, Professor of History, University of Southern California This webinar explores the place of California within North American and United States history. From early modern representations of California as an island to the state's peculiar role in the coming of the Civil War, and from the railroad West to the global influence of California's economy and culture, our work together will range broadly across time, space, and interpretations of the Golden State. Particular emphasis will be placed on the state's environmental and demographic diversity and how California might anticipate change in other regions of the United States.
Medieval Chivalry, the Crusades, and the Modern Far-Right
October 1, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Cord Whitaker, Assistant Professor of English, Wellesley College The Middle Ages are in the news a lot these days—from the invocation of the “Crusades” after 9/11 to the “medieval” plight of women in some areas of the modern Middle East to alt-right protestors dressing as chivalric knights and Vikings and using medieval symbols during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. How do we teach students to understand and navigate a historical period that justifies ideas as varied as the Disney princess and terroristic violence? In this webinar, medieval studies and history of race expert Cord J. Whitaker leads participants through an exploration of far- and alt-right understandings of feudalism, caste systems, and racial homogeny in medieval Europe. We will also consider the Middle Ages’—and especially the Crusades’—roles in constructing the racial concepts of blackness and whiteness in the modern world. The webinar will include strategies for using students’ everyday experiences to teach these concepts inductively and intellectual strategies for resisting the further cooptation of the Middle Ages for racist objectives.
There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945–75
October 10, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Jason Sokol, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire The civil rights movement was not only a struggle to win freedom and equality for African Americans. It went far deeper than that, as it also reshaped the lives of white southerners and shook the very foundations of southern society. It transformed electoral politics, challenged deep-rooted racial attitudes, and upended everyday practices. Thus, it constituted an interracial revolution. This webinar explores the impact of the civil rights movement on ordinary white southerners. It focuses on a series of case studies, including: the history of school integration in the New Orleans public schools as well as at the University of Georgia; the impact of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on southern restaurants and businesses; and the rise of black politics in rural areas like Greene County, Alabama.
Voter Suppression in the 19th Century North: The Other Disfranchisement and What It Tells Us About Voter Rights Today
October 15, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Gregory Downs, Professor of History, University of California-Davis While many Americans (and many historians) present a narrative in which voting rights expanded in the early 19th century, then were retracted for African-American men in the 1880s, the history of disfranchisement demonstrates the long history of technical manipulation of voter registration, a practice that continues to shape voting rights in the United States. In the 1840s–1850s, Northern states pioneered modes of registration designed explicitly to limit Irish-American and other immigrant voting. Although this effort was halted by the Civil War’s expansive need for popular participation in the military, the practice resumed in the 1870s North, to confront later waves of immigration. When white Southern Democrats sought to restrict the franchise for freedpeople, they turned to these methods pioneered in New England. While we often tell a story of violence and fraud in the disfranchisement of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South, the reliance on technical tools of registration remind us of the long history of making voting difficult in the United States.
Unlikely Muses: A Marriage of Mathematics and Poetry
October 22, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Patrick Bahls, Professor of Mathematics, University of North Carolina at Asheville To many, mathematics and poetry seem to occupy disjoint spaces, and spaces rarely trodden except by experts in either field. Yet there is considerable overlap between poetry and math, and students may achieve a better understanding of both areas through an exploration of constrained literature, a means of crafting poetry, fiction, and other literary works through various mathematical methods. This webinar will equip participants with hands-on exercises that can easily be used in a broad range of courses, including a variety of math and creative writing classes at almost any level from kindergarten through graduate school.
October 29, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Mary-Floyd Wilson, Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NHC Fellow 2008–09, 2016–17 This webinar will consider some of the occult forces that were thought to influence and affect humans in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. These considerations will provide us with a context for new readings of three of Shakespeare’s plays: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Keeping in mind that the primary meaning of the word “occult” in the seventeenth century was “secret” or “hidden,” we will explore the early modern attribution of effects, behaviors, afflictions, and actions to a host of subtle influences, such as stars, spirits, bad air, and poisons. The Renaissance or “early modern” ascription of powerful effects to these invisible forces challenges our modern tendency to privilege the will and designs of humans over and above an animate and spirit-filled world. At the same time, certain early modern figures, such as healers or cunning folk, were recognized for their knowledge and capacity to manipulate occult agents. They understood the “blest infusions / That dwell in vegetives, in metals, stones” or the hidden effective qualities in “herbs, plants and stones.” Webinar participants may wish to consider whether prevalent beliefs in an animate world complicate the way we interpret early modern distinctions between life and death, subjects and objects, free will and determinism. How should this culture’s acceptance of secret sympathies, hidden devils, or “auspicious stars” affect how we interpret their conceptions of personhood, gender, or emotion?
Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler
November 7, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Natalie Russell, Assistant Curator, Literary Collections, Huntington Library Octavia E. Butler was the first female African-American writer to make science fiction her career. A shy, only child from Pasadena, California, she dreamed of ordinary people in extraordinary worlds, and extraordinary people in ordinary worlds, and put them on the page. Her stories brought the voice of woman of color to a genre traditionally dominated by white men. That powerful voice tackled issues, not just about race, but themes that continue to resonate with a wide audience: power, identity, gender, class, the environment, and what it means to be human.
Big Game Fiction: Ernest Hemingway’s Adventure Writing
November 12, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Verna Kale, Assistant Research Professor of English and Associate Editor, The Hemingway Letters Project, The Pennsylvania State University Ernest Hemingway is as well known for his larger than life persona as for his writing, but living life “all the way up” was an essential part of his creative process. In this webinar, Associate Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project Verna Kale will take participants out in the Gulf Stream and on safari with Hemingway through his published fiction and creative nonfiction, his fishing and hunting logs, and his letters. She will suggest ways to incorporate Hemingway’s works and writing practices into a variety of assignments in composition, literature, and creative writing classes. Participants will also consider, as Hemingway did, how hunting and fishing are provocative metaphors for writing and the writing life.
November 19, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Jeff Engel, Associate Professor, Director of the Center for Presidential History, Southern Methodist University The Persian Gulf War of 1990–91 marked the end of one era and the start of another. Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein would never have dared invade neighboring Kuwait if Soviet and American policymakers still viewed the Middle East, and the world, as a zero-sum competition. Cold War peace in Europe, in other words, enabled war elsewhere. In this webinar, Jeffrey A. Engel explains Iraq's invasion and Kuwait's liberation, the largest American military expedition since Vietnam and the broadest diplomatic coalition since the Korean War, and the war's dramatic but ultimately unsatisfying end. An off-shore presence at most before 1991, after that year the United States effectively became a Gulf state, beginning an on-site diplomatic and military deployment that continues through today.
Can the Jonestown Massacre Help Us Understand Other Acts of Terrorism?
December 5, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: David Chappell, Professor of Modern U.S. History, University of Oklahoma On November 18, 1978, 912 people died in a mass murder-mass suicide in rural Guyana. Even though the Jonestown massacre remains a mystery, it does have eerie parallels to the murder-suicides, mass shootings, and terrorism that wrack our society today. This webinar will explore Professor Chappell’s 2018 article in the Washington Post in which he investigates the incident and how it might offer a lesson on reducing mass violence today.
Post-1990s Developments in China’s Relationship to the World
December 10, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Xing Hang, Associate Professor of History, Brandeis University Do you find yourself wondering how U.S.–China relations got to the current point? Or thinking that you need a crash course on China’s ambitious initiatives on the world stage? This online seminar, led by Professor Xing Hang of Brandeis University, will help to orient you to how China’s relationships and priorities have evolved over the last three decades and prompt you to consider the alternative global framework that China has been developing for the future.
Asian Americans: A History of the Fastest Growing Group in the U.S.
December 12, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Erika Lee, Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, University of Minnesota Asian Americans are the fastest growing group in the United States. Twenty million Americans trace their roots to Asia, and the Asian American population grew 72% from 2000 to 2015, the fastest growth rate of any racial or ethnic group. But most Americans know little about this diverse community and their long history, and our textbooks include only the briefest mentions of Asian Americans. In this webinar, award-winning historian and author Erika Lee introduces participants to the compelling histories of immigrant journeys, exclusion laws, World War II incarceration, civil rights activism, refugee migrations, and contemporary debates over immigration and race that have defined Asian American life in the past and present.
The Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and Civil Rights History
December 17, 2019 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Johnny Smith, Department of History, Georgia Tech In 1962, Martin Luther King, Jr., reflected on the importance of Jackie Robinson, writing, “He was a pilgrim that walked in the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.” King believed that when Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier fifteen years earlier, the Brooklyn Dodgers star helped pave the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In this webinar we will examine Robinson’s role in the civil rights movement, as an athlete and as an activist. We will also discuss how history teachers can use Robinson's life to explore the intersections of race, sport, and politics in American history.
Winners and Losers in the History of Citizenship and the 14th Amendment
January 9, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History, Johns Hopkins UniversityNHC Fellow 2013–14 Birthright citizenship has a history that extends across nearly the whole of the nineteenth century. It entered legal debates during the antebellum era through the constitutional puzzle that free African Americans posed. In the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, birthright took on new significance as questions about the incorporation of former slaves into the nation led to the constitutionalization of birthright. The principle and the constitutional history that gave it application were not, however, settled. The children of Chinese immigrants confronted the denial of their birthright claims in customhouse confrontations settled only when the Supreme Court carefully examined, for the first time in its history, the record of birthright’s past and its application to all those who claimed their place within the nation’s borders of belonging.
Disciplining Comics: Teaching in the Humanities with Graphic Histories
January 16, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Trevor R. Getz, Chair, Department of History; Director, Initiative for Public Humanities, San Francisco State University Comics are serious stuff. Non-fiction graphic novels are suddenly everywhere, and many deal with the events, experiences, and ramifications of the past. They offer readers access to issues of memory, power, biography, and inter-generational trauma. They also provide unique opportunities for students to encounter and construct meaningful and usable histories. Too often, however, we teach them as if they were merely illustrated texts, and as a result our students miss out on the opportunity to learn how to read and think about the past in multiple modalities. In this webinar, historian and graphic history author Trevor R. Getz will discuss ways to bring the learning opportunities of the comic medium to the humanities classroom.
January 23, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Emily Wilson, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania It can be daunting to think about how to make students feel engaged when reading a poem that is almost three thousand years old. Emily Wilson will discuss ways to enable students to recognize the central relevance of The Odyssey's themes for contemporary cultural themes and questions, such as cultural difference, migration, gender, class, violence, conservatism, identity and agency—while also recognizing the poem's historical distance and strangeness. She will discuss specific challenges facing teachers of the poem in translation, especially in cases when the instructor has not read the original. She will explore ways to enable students to engage with the poetic and literary texture of the poem, rather than only abstracting its “themes.” She'll suggest that teaching The Odyssey can invite students to grapple with the relationship of the past to the present, and raise in the classroom questions that face all humanities disciplines, like point of view and how much it matters who tells or owns a story, and how we define communities.
Everything but the Coffee: Learning About the World from Starbucks
January 30, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Bryant Simon, Professor of History, Temple University Starbucks is everywhere. It is on busy street corners and intersections. It is in the mall, the airport, and supermarket. It is St. Louis and St. Cloud, Paris and Singapore. At one point, there was even a Starbucks in the Forbidden City in China. In the early 2000s, historian and writer Bryant Simon visited more than 400 Starbucks around the world to try to figure out what the company and its outlets told us about us, about what we care about and desire, what we want and what we think we need. In his book, Everything But the Coffee, Simon connects our deepest desires to be good, smart, ethical consumers with our equally strong yearning to consume in authentic and highly individual ways. Our coffee, Simon shows, is us, and we are our coffee. This webinar will look at Starbucks and the landscapes of coffee drinking in the United States and around the world.
February 6, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Luc Bovens, Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Teaching ethics in high school and college is a challenge: Students should be exposed to a range of contemporary moral problems and gain reasoning tools and discussion skills to address these problems. Short stories are a great tool for this: They transport the reader to the very core of the issues and raise pertinent questions. Luc Bovens has constructed a course with fifty short stories by prominent writers from around the world. The short stories are paired with articles from the popular press that address the issues from a journalistic angle and with guiding questions to start the discussion.
Dolly Parton’s World: Exploring Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in the South
February 11, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Jessica Wilkerson, Assistant Professor of History and Southern Studies, University of Mississippi Icons of southern and American history serve a purpose in our lives and in society. We make meaning with and through icons. In 2018 Jessica Wilkerson published an essay “Living with Dolly Parton”—part memoir, part cultural criticism, and part history—in which she deconstructed the image of country music and southern icon Dolly Parton. This webinar will use the essay as a jumping off point to discuss how we can use iconic symbols of southern womanhood to foster the study of place and identities and to deepen our understanding of histories of race, class, and gender in American history.
February 25, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Tyler Priest, Professor of History, University of Iowa During the twentieth century, oil became not only the United States' principal source of energy, but the foundation of modern American society. Powerful, versatile, and cheap, oil transformed everyday life for Americans—how they moved, where they lived, what they ate, how they dressed, how they played, and even how they thought. This carbon-intensive way of life blessed the nation with unrivaled prosperity, but it also has saddled current and future generations with the threat of runaway global warming. In this webinar, oil historian Tyler Priest will discuss how to help students come to terms with their oil-saturated past in order to better understand how best to decarbonize their future.
March 3, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EDT Lead Scholar: Scott DeVeaux, Professor of Critical and Comparative Studies, University of Virginia In this webinar Professor DeVeaux will explore the vivid history of jazz in America. We will investigate the who, what, when, where, and why—all within the context of American culture.
March 12, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Kevin Kruse, Professor of History, Princeton University In recent years, historians have increasingly taken to social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to engage with each other, with journalists, and with the general public too. But the social media landscape can be tricky to navigate. In this webinar, historian Kevin M. Kruse will guide participants through a discussion of best practices for historians on social media.
Slavery as Freedom: White Married Women and Slave-Ownership in the American South
March 17, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley As a group of parishioners in a Charlestown, Virginia church listened to a northern visitor’s declarations about the wrongs of slavery and the sins of slaveholding, one woman retorted, “I am a slaveholder, and I glory in it.” This webinar takes as its focus those white southern women who “gloried” in slave-ownership and seized upon the economic privileges that owning human beings afforded to them. It examines white, particularly married, women’s economic relationships to and investments in American slavery and describes how owning people allowed white married women to circumvent some of the constraints they faced because of their gender and marital status. It draws upon and engages with the testimony of formerly enslaved individuals as well as legal, financial, and military records to show the myriad ways in which women actively participated in the South’s slave market economy, which involved the buying, selling, and hiring of enslaved people, and demonstrates that their engagement differed little from their male counterparts. As we examine married slave-owning women’s economic investments in slavery, it will become clear that their pecuniary ties to the institution were fundamental to the institution’s growth and expansion into the West and Deep South. More profoundly, the products of those economic investments—from the wages their slaves earned while hired out, the cash crops their slaves cultivated, picked, and packed for shipment, and just about everything in between—were fundamental to the nation’s economic growth. The webinar will also elucidate how slave-owning women's economic investments in the institution shaped their gender identities and examine how their propertied status impacted the lives of enslaved people during the nineteenth century.
More than Pirates, Cruises, and Rum: The History of the Caribbean in Global Perspective
March 24, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Molly Warsh, Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh How do we get students to think beyond “Pirates of the Caribbean” when it comes time to talk about the critical role of the region in the making of the modern world? In this webinar, historian Molly Warsh explains why anyone teaching modern U.S. and World History needs to emphasize the Caribbean in their courses. She will talk about the Caribbean’s centrality to the growth of the trade in enslaved Africans, the rise of the sugar industry, and the enduring global importance of exchange, exploitation, revolution, migrations, and dirty dealings—from piracy to modern-day money laundering—in the Caribbean from Columbus to the present day.
American Indians in the American Cultural Imagination
March 31, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Philip Deloria, Professor of History, Harvard University Why are Americans so smitten by dreamcatchers, sports mascots, Cherokee great-grandmothers, and other imagined and longed-for Indians? Native peoples have long held a critical and evocative spot in American culture, materializing in literature, art, theater, film, music, games, folklore and other locations where American meaning-making has taken place. In this webinar, Philip Deloria will offer a brief survey of this history, placing it in the context of concepts such as survivance and settler colonialism, which help to understand the role of Native peoples in contesting and shaping American culture.
The Other American Revolution: The Rise of Horse Cultures in the American West and the Transformation of Native America
April 9, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Elliott West, Professor of History, University of Arkansas When Europeans first arrived in the new world, their horses were coming home. Horses had evolved on the American Great Plains, but as they migrated into Siberia and spread across much of the old world, they became extinct in their American cradle until, ten thousand years later, the Spanish returned them to their birthplace. Now, however, horses were in intimate partnership with humans, part of one of many horse cultures that had appeared from Spain to China. As Native peoples of the American West acquired the horse, they quickly reshaped their lives. They could travel faster and farther, hunt more vigorously, trade more productively, and wage war more lethally. There followed a dizzying movement of peoples and the rise of powerful empires, one the size of western Europe. It was an American revolution as sweeping and consequential as the one simultaneously creating a new nation to the east. This webinar will follow its story, including its tragic end, and will consider its largely unappreciated place in the history of the United States and North America.
RESCHEDULED: April 21, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Akram Khater, Professor of History, North Carolina State UniversityNHC Fellow 2005–06 Far too often, the Middle East appears as doubly alien: out of place and out of time. A century of popular culture caricatures, at least two centuries of Orientalist representations, and decades of American military interventions, have all fed into the notion of the Middle East as turmoil-laden, sectarian and tribal pre-modern world. In this webinar, we will go beyond these stereotypes to look at the historical forces that shaped the region across the 20th century, and to understand the complexities and familiarity of its peoples and societies.
April 23, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Nicholas Dames, Professor of Humanities, Columbia University How should we read Jane Austen’s most famous novel more than 200 years on from its initial publication? This webinar is an inquiry into a division of opinion about Austen that has only grown more heated: whether we read her to flee modernity, or to understand it. We will consider what Austen’s novel has to say to us now, with attention to the negotiation and performance of behavioral codes in a social environment undergoing change; ideas of revolution coming into conflict with fantasies of social concord; the intersections of money, class, and erotic desire; the relation of gender to other forms of exploitation. Our guiding question will finally be: how might the style of spirited individualism Austen describes still be viable for us?
April 30, 2020 7:00–8:30 pm EST Lead Scholar: Lawrie Balfour, Professor of Politics, University of Virginia Does the recent call for reparations by several Democratic presidential candidates signal a new openness to an old idea? Although demands for reparations for slavery, Jim Crow, and their legacies have been dismissed as costly, divisive, and unfair, African American activists and intellectuals from the 19th century to the 21st have often expressed their political aspirations in the language of repair. This webinar will consider the history of reparations as an idea and a social movement. Focusing on visions of reparations put forward by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Movement for Black Lives, and others, we will explore the promise and limitations of reparations as a response to racial oppression and a step toward democratic reconstruction.