Tuesday, 20 September 2016
4:00 to 5:00 p.m., CUB Junior Ballroom East
Oil has long inspired Americans to think about their future in sacred terms. Extracted from the earth in mysterious ways, often with the help of spiritualists, oil was at its origins imagined as the divinely sanctioned lifeblood of a modernizing nation. America’s powerbrokers and rank-and-file both ascribed a special status to this resource, and in turn used its wealth to construct and legitimate imposing corporate and church institutions, missionary organizations, and an expansive petro-state. This lecture explores how religion and oil together shaped existence for modern Americans, paying special attention to oil patches west of the Mississippi, 1890s-1940s, when, amid petroleum’s most violent boom-bust cycles, wildcatters and residents theologized their encounter with soil and its subsurface wealth and constructed a distinctive life geared to new logics of capitalism, technology, time, energy, environment, and political power.
Darren Dochuk, Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame is the author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (2011), winner of the Allen Nevins Prize from the American Historical Association and the Ellis Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. See the poster about this talk.
“Public Dams, Private Power: The Fight for Clarks Hill, 1946-1957”
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
12:00 p.m. at the CUB Auditorium
In the decade following the end of World War II, public and private forces collided over plans to construct a massive federal dam on the Snake River at Hells Canyon. The battle sparked national debates about nature, energy, economic development, and political power, as private interests successfully “unplugged” the New Deal in the US Northwest and ushered in an energy regime of private dams and public power. At the same time, Southerners too engaged in battles over whether the private or public sector should control their rivers. Clarks Hill dam on the Savannah River assumed a central position in regional and national questions about the fate of the New Deal. Casey Cater offers a comparative regional analysis for WSU’s Northwest audience. Despite important similarities between the Northwest and South, Cater argues that what Southerners got at Clarks Hill was the reverse of the outcome at Hells Canyon: public dams but private power. Private utilities “unplugged” the New Deal in the South, but plugged its machinery of hydropower into its increasingly coal-based network, reaffirming a Southern political economy based on state-sanctioned, federally subsidized private monopoly over nature.
Casey Cater teaches History at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, GA.
“Thresholds, Walls, & Bridges”
October 21-24, 2015
October 21-24, 2015, the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West and the Washington State University Department of History were sponsors of the Western History Association’s 55th Annual Conference, “Thresholds, Walls, & Bridges,” in Portland, Oregon. The event was the largest annual meeting of historians of the American West; it boasted dozens of academic sessions, book displays from publishers of western history titles, five local history tours and parallel exhibits, as well as an opening reception at the Oregon Historical Society, and a banquet honoring recipients of several awards bestowed on western historians. Several faculty and graduate students from WSU’s Department of History gave papers, lead tours, chaired committees, and otherwise participated in the conference. Download the official conference program
On October 6, 2015, the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West helped to sponsor the participation of Terry Tempest Williams and Brooke Williams in the Department of English’s Visiting Writer Series.
“The Legacy of the American West in Contemporary Italy”
Department of History, University of Wyoming
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
4:00 to 5:00 p.m., Butch’s Den at the CUB
In popular culture, connections between the American West and Italy rarely extend beyond consideration of America’s western films that invaded Italy in the post-World War II period and the rise of the so-called Italian Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s. Professor Laegreid’s research, however, expands and deepens our understanding of the reciprocal influences between the U.S. and Italy, focusing on the idea of the American frontier in Italy from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Based on research for her current book project, Professor Laegreid will speak on three waves of western American influences on Italy, and how Italians have used western American mythology for their own personal, political, and financial purposes.
Prof. Laegreid is the author of Riding Pretty: Rodeo Royalty in the American West (2006), and co-editor of Women on the North American Plains (2011) and “Finding the American West in Twenty-First-Century Italy,” Western Historical Quarterly (Autumn 2014).
“Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire”
Department of History, University of British Columbia
Monday, 03 March 2014
5:00–6:00 p.m., CUB 210 Junior Ballroom East
Urban and Indigenous histories have usually been treated as though they are mutually exclusive. Prof. Thrush’s work, however, has argued that the two kinds of history are in fact mutually constitutive. In this presentation, Prof. Thrush will present material from his current book project, a history of London framed through the experiences of Indigenous people who travelled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Stories of Inuit captives in the 1570s, Cherokee delegations in the 1760s, Hawaiian royals in the 1820s, and more—as well as the memory of these travellers in present-day communities—show the ways in which London is the ground of Indigenous history and settler colonialism.
Prof. Thrush is the author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (2007), which won the Washington State Book Award for History/Biography, and co-editor of Phantom Past, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American History & Culture (2011).
“Contemporary Pathways in Indian Country”
Confederated Tribes of Colville
Wednesday, 01 February 2012
12:00–1:00, CUB Junior Ballroom
Michael O. Finley, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and co-author of Finding Chief Kamiakin: A Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2008), will be speaking on issues confronting Native Americans in the United States, in particular from the perspective of Native Americans whose ancestral homes are in eastern Washington state.
“Old Vines, Global Wines: The Cultural and Environmental Impacts of European Viticulture in the New World”
Department of History, University of Houston
Wednesday, 09 November 2011
1:10–2:00, CUB Junior Ballroom
Kathleen Brosnan is an environmental historian whose first book is Uniting Mountain and Plain: Cities, Law, and Environmental Change along the Front Range (2002). She will be speaking at WSU on her projected three-book series that deals with the history of the wine industry. The first projected book focuses on how industry and consumerism shaped the environment of the Napa Valley. The second examines European viticulture as a form of ecological imperialism around the world. The third investigates how U.S. land grant institutions’ roles in the development of food products, including wine, have shaped environments.
“Doom Towns of the West”
Department of History, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
1:10–2:00, CUB Junior Ballroom
Andy Kirk’s research and teaching focus on the intersections of cultural and environmental history in the modern U.S. with a special interest in the American West and public history. His recent publications include Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (rev. ed., 2011) and “From Wilderness Prophets to Tool Freaks: Post WWII Environmentalism” in The Blackwell Companion to American Environmental History. His current work includes “The Art of Testing and the Culture of Secrecy at the Nevada Test Site.” His talk at WSU, “Doom Towns of the West,” concerns the nuclear industry and western places.
Department of History, University of Maryland
4 November 2010
Public Lecture at 1:10 p.m. in the CUB Junior Ballroom (Room 210)
Brown-Bag Seminar at 3:00 p.m. in Wilson-Short Hall 333
Kate Brown earned her Ph.D at the University of Washington. An expert in Russian and Eastern European history, Professor Brown’s publications have included Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Border to Soviet Heartland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). It won the George Louis Beer Prize from the American Historical Society given in recognition of outstanding contributions to modern European international history. Her current project is “A Tale of Two Nuclear Cities,” which explores and compares the histories of Chernobyl in the former U.S.S.R. and Hanford in Washington state.
Department of History, The College of William and Mary
11 October 2010
Public Lecture at 1:00 p.m. in the CUB Junior Ballroom (Room 210)
Brown-Bag Seminar at 4:00 p.m. in Wilson-Short Hall 333
Andrew Fisher received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University. His research and teaching interests focus on modern Native American history, environmental history, and the American West. His recently completed book is Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010). It examines off-reservation communities and processes of tribal ethnogenesis in the Columbia River Basin of the Pacific Northwest. You can find more on this important work at www.washington.edu/uwpress/search/books/FISSHA.html.
March 27, 2010 | 5:30–9:00 p.m. | Kimbrough Music Building, Room 101
Washington State University, Pullman
|5:30–7:00||Kathryn Shanley and Raymond DeMallie|
|7:00–9:00||Wayne Horvitz and “Heartsong of Charging Elk”|
World-renowned Seattle composer Wayne Horvitz will present his oratorio “Heartsong of Charging Elk” at Pullman.
The performance will take place the evening after a performance at WSU Vancouver; it culminates for that campus a weeklong humanities and honors mini-course and lecture series on indigenous peoples, historical fiction, and the mythical Wild West.
Horvitz’s oratorio for four voices and ten chamber instruments is based on James Welch’s novel The Heartsong of Charging Elk (New York: Doubleday, 2000). Welch (1940–2003) was one of the best-known Native American writers of his time. Of Blackfeet and Gros Ventre ancestry, Welch studied writing under Richard Hugo at the University of Montana. His early works include Winter in the Blood (1974) and Fools Crow (1986).
Heartsong, which is inspired by actual historical events, tells the story of Oglala Sioux Charging Elk who, while touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, was hospitalized for broken ribs and influenza in 1889 Marseilles, France. The Wild West Show moved on, leaving Charging Elk, now recovered from his illness and injuries, stranded and speaking neither French nor English.
“Using that historical predicament for his springboard,” Horvitz has written, “James Welch conjures a poetic narrative of Charging Elk’s displaced existence following his abandonment in The Heartsong of Charging Elk.”
Wayne Horvitz is a native of New York and now resides in Seattle. He is an internationally known keyboardist, composer, and producer. Perhaps best known as a jazz musician, nevertheless, Horvitz works in many musical genres. He has had commissioning grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Arts Council, the Mary Flagler Carey Trust, the Seattle Arts Commission, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the Fund for U.S. Artists, and a Rockefeller MAP grant. He has composed and produced music for PBS programming and even for film director Gus Van Sant.
Horvitz will travel to Pullman with his musicians and a conductor. The latter will perform the piece, and Horvitz will provide a short lecture and question and answer about the oratorio with the audience.
In addition to this performance and Horvitz’s discussion of his music, the event will also bring to campus two speakers, Professors Kathryn Shanley and Raymond J. Demallie, who are experts on James Welch and on Black Elk, a real Sioux man who did travel with the Wild West Show and actually was stranded in France, eventually making his way to England and then back to his home on the Great Plains.
Professor Kathryn Shanley earned her Ph.D. in English and Native American literature at the University of Michigan. A member of the Assiniboine Tribe, Shanley is now a professor of Native American studies and assistant to the president and provost of the University of Montana. She has edited Native American Literature: Boundaries and Sovereignties (2001) and is working on a book on James Welch.
Professor Raymond J. Demaille is chancellor’s professor of anthropology and adjunct professor of folklore, director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute, and curator of North American ethnology at the Mathers Museum at Indiana University. Demaille has researched and written extensively on Great Plains tribes. In 2008 he annotated a new edition of John G. Neihardt’s famous Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, first published in 1932.
Columbia Chair in the History of the American West, sponsor
Humanities Washington, co-sponsor
Plateau Center for American Indian Studies, WSU, co-sponsor
Visual, Performing, & Literary Arts Committee (VPLAC), WSU, co-sponsor
School of Music, WSU, co-sponsor
Global Travel, Pullman, Washington, co-sponsor