Explaining One’s Research to the Public

From the desk of Dr. Charles Foy:

A basic responsibility of EIU faculty is to create knowledge. For historians, this typically takes the form of monographs published by university press or articles in academic journals. Unfortunately, the readership for these works is generally not extensive. The public’s exposure to history often is limited to the History Channel (Hitler, Hitler and more Hitler!). How to ensure a wider audience for our interesting scholarship? Eastern’s historians are engaging the public on a number of non-traditional and digital medium, including blogs, Twitter, and online essays.

Where can one find EIU history faculty’s informal writing? Here are some examples:

Twitter: Dr. Laughlin-Schultz, a historian of 19th century reform movements and women’s history regularly tweets on these issues, political matters and her new book project on the reformer Lucy Stone at https://twitter.com/bls75.

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Dr. Newton Key tweets on 17th century British history at https://twitter.com/newton_key.

Blogs: Short form essays are a handy means to quickly describe one’s research. The longest-standing blog by a EIU historian is Dr. Key’s Early Modern England blog at http://earlymodernengland.blogspot.com/

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Online Articles: Recently, a plethora of websites have been developed that seek to explain historical issues to the general public. One of these, Red Hooks Water Stories, http://portsidenewyork.org/history-cultural-tourism/, has undertaken to explain New York City’s maritime history to the public.

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This Fall it will be publishing Dr. Charles Foy’s short essay, “Blacks on the New York Waterfront during the American Revolution.” This is essay is a condensed version of Dr. Foy’s recent scholarly article “The Royal Navy’s Employment of Black Mariners and Maritime Workers, 1754-1783,” published in the February 2016 edition of International Maritime History Journal.

Join us online!

Event: Professor to Discuss Centennial Farms in Coles County

From the desk of Dr. Debra Reid:

A new book, Illinois Historic Farms (Acclaim Press, 2015) features stories of more than 800 centennial and sesquicentennial farms across the state of Illinois. Debra A. Reid, professor, Department of History, Eastern Illinois University, wrote the history of farming in Illinois for the volume. She will share information about the project and summarize key points about agriculture as it evolved in East Central Illinois. The farms designated as centennial or sesquicentennial farms in Coles County, and included in the book will be the basis for a conversation about the role of education, cultural influences, and types of business strategies essential to farm survival. In the spirit of conversation, the audience should bring their stories of farming to share with the audience.

This event will take place from 2:00-3:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 13 at the Dudley House (located at 895 Seventh Street, Charleston, IL 61920).

This program is part of the series, Community Conversations at the Dudley House, designed as public conversations about issues in local history, and funded by the Charleston Area Charitable Foundation. Programs include a 30-35 minutes presentation and time for questions and answers. Lite refreshments will be served.

Dr. Reid holds up a copy of Illinois Historic Farms.

Dr. Reid holds up a copy of Illinois Historic Farms.

The next program is scheduled the second Sunday of October (October 11). Mr. Ryan D’Arcy will speak on the topic: “Westfield College, Local Economic Development & Decay” starting at 2 pm.

Please contact the Coles County Historical Society at 217-235-6744 for more information.

Mark Antony Goes to Armenia

Lee E. Patterson returns to Armenia once again in his latest article, titled “Antony and Armenia,” recently published in TAPA, the official journal of the Society for Classical Studies (formerly known as the American Philological Association).

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The piece examines the role Armenia played in Mark Antony’s eastern activities, especially his disastrous Parthian war.  It also situates Armenia in the wider politics of the Roman world that saw Antony ultimately oppose Octavian and ally with Cleopatra.  Contrary to the common belief that Antony annexed Armenia as a Roman province, Patterson posits that a proper accounting of the evidence, scant though it is, and of the broader historical context argues against Antony’s intent to reduce Armenia to anything other than a client state.  In an earlier publication Patterson argued against the emperor Caracalla’s annexation in the 210’s.  This pattern is consistent with overall Roman policy regarding Armenia (the emperor Trajan being a notable exception), which Patterson is currently exploring in a book project.  The latest issue of TAPA is available to subscribers of Project Muse and can be accessed here.

EIU History Professor Featured in Medieval Cathedral Exhibit

Dr. Bailey K. Young is one of the experts (the only one from North America) featured in a special exhibition opening this month in Tournai Cathedral (Belgium), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The exhibition presents to the general public, for the first time, the results of fifteen years (1996-2011) of archaeological study and excavation of one of Europe’s most celebrated medieval cathedrals, in its present form a mixed Romanesque (nave) and Gothic (choir) monument.

The outside of Tournai Cathedral with its Romanesque nave and soaring transept towers (dating to the 12th century), from the busy marketplace

The outside of Tournai Cathedral with its Romanesque nave and soaring transept towers (dating to the 12th century), from the busy marketplace

The excavations by the CRAN (National Archaeological Research Center) of the Université catholique de Louvain  have revealed that it was preceded on the site by six major earlier cathedrals and churches over some eight centuries, the first –an Early Christian basilica– built upon a Late Roman elite residence.  Among the particularly exciting discoveries are a step-in baptismal pool dating to the Carolingian era (ca. 800 A.D.) and the intact tombs of two 11th century bishops, who are well-known in written sources, wearing episcopal garb.

The inside of the Gothic choir (13th century)—this part has been closed to the general public since an earthquake in 2001 led to an ongoing stabilization program, as the scaffolds attest.

The inside of the Gothic choir (13th century)—this part has been closed to the general public since an earthquake in 2001 led to an ongoing stabilization program, as the scaffolds attest.

 

The CRAN is EIU’s partner in the excavation of Walhain Castle, and every year Dr. Young has brought cohorts of students from his Summer Archaeology Program in Belgium to see the progress of these excavations, with a tour by the leading archaeologist.

Dr. Bailey Young with two EIU students from the 2006 group: Jeremy Daly, a Junior History major and Niccole Hurley, a graduated (Honors) major then in our M.A. program.  She went on to get a law degree in St. Louis, where she currently practices.

Dr. Bailey K. Young with two EIU students from the 2006 group: Jeremy Daly, a Junior History major and Niccole Hurley, a graduated (Honors) major then in our M.A. program. She went on to get a law degree in St. Louis, where she currently practices.

Even when the cathedral was closed to the general public for restoration work we got a key for an exclusive visit—indeed, one year we were almost locked in!  Professor Young has also translated the fifteen explanatory panels and photo captions into English, and translated the English summary for the three-volume excavation report just published (2014).  The exhibition will be open throughout the year and into 2015.

Faculty Monograph Honored as a Kansas Notable Book

Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz’s recent book, The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown’s Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism, has been selected for inclusion on the 2014 Kansas Notable Books List. The Kansas Notable Book List recognizes the literary richness of Kansas and is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book (KCFB) at the State Library of Kansas. The annual selection of 15 books reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Kansas features titles that are either written by Kansans or features a Kansas-related topic. A committee of KCFB Affiliates, Fellows, and authors of previous Notable Books identifies these titles from among those published the previous year, and the State Librarian makes the selection for the final list. Each year a reception and medal awards ceremony honor the books and their authors and illustrators.

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Translation of Leopold Tyrmand’s: Diary 1954

On April 1 , 2014, Anita Shelton and her collaborator, A.J. Wrobel, published their translation of Leopold Tyrmand’s Diary 1954.  The blurb from the back of the book reads: “Leopold Tyrmand, a Polish Jew who survived World War II by working in Germany under a false identity, would go on to live and write under Poland’s Communist regime for twenty years before emigrating to the West, where he continued to express his deeply felt anti-Communist views. Diary 1954—written after the independent weekly paper that employed him was closed for refusing to mourn Stalin’s death—is an account of daily life in Communist Poland. Like Czesław Miłosz, Václav Havel, and other dissidents who described the absurdities of Soviet-backed regimes, Tyrmand exposes the lies—big and small—that the regimes employed to stay in power. Witty and insightful, Tyrmand’s diary is the chronicle of a man who uses seemingly minor modes of resistance—as a provocative journalist, a Warsaw intellectual, the “spiritual father” of Polish hipsters, and a promoter of jazz in Poland—to maintain his freedom of thought.”

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“Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the culture, not just the politics, of Stalinism.” – Anne Applebaum, author of Iron Curtain: the Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956.

Ethnic Nationalism in 20th Century Iran

Brian Mann’s “The Khuzistani Arab Movement, 1941-46: A Case of Nationalism?” was recently published in the edited volume Rethinking Iranian Nationalism and Modernity.  In the chapter, Professor Mann examines contested notions of Iranian national identity by analyzing the ethnicity and regionalism in a Iranian Arab secessionist movement.

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