Fall 2016 Schedule
Wampum and the Shaping of Early America
Thursday, September 29, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

Most people think of wampum simply as Native American money, but it did not become money until European colonies adopted it as a medium of exchange. Once that happened, it spurred both Europeans and Native Americans to cross many of the cultural divides separating them, created manufacturing and trade networks throughout northeastern North America, and spawned a European cottage industry that eventually led to wampum factories in New Jersey from which it was exported to the West, where it profoundly shaped Plains Indian material culture. Join us to learn how these white and purple beads made from shells transformed both Native American and European cultures.

Leader: Paul Otto, Professor of History, George Fox University; National Humanities Center Fellow

Rushmore Series: Jefferson as Leader
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

When Thomas Jefferson ascended to the presidency on March 4, 1801, his great challenge was to reassure his fellow Americans that they were a united people, dedicated to common principles and still inspired by the Revolutionary "Spirit of '76." This was no small task: vicious party battles in the 1790s and a protracted deadlock in the Electoral College had led some observers to fear for the very survival of the union. The new president did not aspire to be another George Washington, "whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love." Jefferson instead promised to follow the people's lead, casting himself as their modest and self-effacing public servant. Join us to discover how his celebration of the power of the people pointed toward a new conception of leadership in a democratic republic. How did Jefferson plan to preside over "the strongest Government on earth"?

Leader: Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Virginia

Teaching 'The Scarlet Letter'
Thursday, October 27, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

The Scarlet Letter often looks to modern readers like an affirmation of individual desire in the face of communal repression. In fact, however, Hawthorne's exploration of individualism was ambiguous enough that his contemporaries were left unsure as to whether his book was celebrating its doomed lovers, or condemning them. How can we read Hawthorne's masterpiece today so as to acknowledge the complexity of its portrayal of self-exploration?

Leader: Jennifer Fleissner, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University, Bloomington; National Humanities Center Fellow

Teaching Emily Dickinson
Thursday, November 3, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

Emily Dickinson is frequently imagined as a mysterious figure who lived inside a poetic world of her own making and showed little interest in the world outside her mind. While it is true she led a reclusive life in Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson nevertheless was actively involved in many of the most current intellectual, political, and cultural trends of her time through her reading, letter-writing, and interactions with socially prominent family members and friends. She was a gifted pianist, with a strong interest in the popular music of her time, and a skilled gardener of some renown. All of these engagements make their way into her remarkable poems, most of which were discovered only after her death. This webinar places Dickinson's poems within historical contexts important for her work. We will concentrate on her writings related to the Civil War, to the popular entertainments of her time; and to her conflicted engagements with her Calvinist heritage and the current religious climate in Amherst.

Leader: Eliza Richards, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC-Chapel Hill; National Humanities Center Fellow

Gender in Antebellum African American Autobiographies
Thursday, November 10, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

How did the institution of chattel slavery affect gender roles among enslaved men and women? What role does marriage play in classic antebellum African American autobiographies? This webinar will address these and other questions by analyzing the autobiographies of Jarena Lee (1836), Frederick Douglass (1845), Sojourner Truth (1850), Harriet Jacobs (1861), and Thomas H. Jones (1862). Typically, male-authored African American autobiographies of the nineteenth century emphasize individual mission or calling as the driving force in a man's life. The autobiographies of their female contemporaries usually present marriage and family as a woman's primary social responsibilities. However, when we study these foundational texts of African American autobiography, we find that they both conform to and diverge from dominant ideas about gender roles and social missions among black Americans before Emancipation.

Leader: William Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rushmore Series: Lincoln as Leader
Thursday, November 17, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST

Almost everybody knows and reveres Lincoln's qualities as a great public communicator, but teachers and students sometimes struggle to identify examples of Lincoln's equally important successes as a political tactician. This webinar will use now easily accessible "private & confidential" correspondence between Lincoln and his political rivals to paint a fuller picture of his presidential leadership. Was Lincoln as honest and ethical behind-the-scenes as his popular legend suggests? How did President Lincoln overcome so much personal animosity and deep-seated resistance from his contemporaries? Join us to discover what can we learn from Lincoln's partisan style of leadership and how we might apply those lessons in today's increasingly polarized political culture.

Leader: Matthew Pinsker, Associate Professor of History, Dickinson College

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