Welcome to the inaugural issue of our new History Department newsletter. We are very excited about the possibilities for keeping our entire University of Memphis History Community in touch with one another and up to date on what our students, faculty and alumni are doing.
This is your newsletter. Please send us your triumphs, your announcements, your personal stories. We plan to publish every fall and plan to send it out via e-mail and snail mail to everyone we can find with a connection to The University of Memphis Department of History.
It has been a very busy fall in the History Department. As the semester ended last spring, everyone had to pack up all of their belongings . Piles of boxes, filing cabinets, desks, chairs, computers and much miscellany were moved to the fourth floor of Mitchell Hall. Over the summer, dozens of workmen purged the rooms of the lower two floors of asbestos and other ancient debris.
Then, just before the start of the fall semester, the move was reversed amid last minute painting, waxing, and general repair. By now, I believe most of the faculty have their boxes emptied and books returned to shelves. All this chaos was disruptive, but it was an excellent time to purge yellowing lecture notes, old textbooks, and student papers held since the 1970s. As a result of the move, the graduate assistants and part-time instructors have more private office space. The Faculty Lounge has been moved across the hall to Room 100, the space once occupied by the History Office. The History Office is now on the second floor in the old Dean's Complex, 219 Mitchell Hall. In a few months, we expect to spruce up the lounge with paint, window treatments, colorful artwork, and new furniture.
In August 2004, Dr. F. Jack Hurley, who had been with this department for some 38 years, retired. On October 2, he married Suzanne Cameron Linder and began a new life in North Carolina. When he left, I assumed my new position as Chair, and with every day I gain more respect for the difficult and often invisible work Dr. Hurley did for this department. My new office once belonged to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who moved to another building, and it is just as grand as the title indicates. When you are on campus, drop by and see me.
Two new faculty joined us this semester, and both are very active scholars. Dr. Robert Gudmestad, who specializes in southern history, published A Troublesome Commerce: The Transformation of the Interstate Slave Trade in 2003, and has a new project in the works concerning steamboats. Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, a 20th Century African American history specialist, published Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon last year and is now immersed in a new project on African Americans in basketball. Currently, we are in the midst of a search for a new faculty member who will specialize in the Modern Middle East. We hope to have her/him on board by August 2005.
Our faculty and graduate students, who are among the best in the country, continue to bring us honor and acclaim. Be sure to review their accomplishments, showcased in Faculty Happenings, Graduate Student Happenings, and Alumni Digest in this newsletter.
-Janann Sherman, Chair, Department of History
In the 38 years that I served the History Department at The University of Memphis, I watched the University change from a strong orientation toward undergraduate education, with little emphasis on research, to a full-service research oriented university, and this change impacted the History Department in ways that were more positive than negative. With few exceptions, our undergraduate teachers have also been active researchers who enjoyed sharing their findings with colleagues around the country through papers read at professional meetings, articles published in national and regional journals, and books. It is this interchange with others that keeps us mentally alive and growing, and that makes for good teaching, too.
The graduate program has allowed faculty members the pleasure and responsibility of working with both M.A. and Ph.D. students, and watching many of those students go on to establish themselves in their academic careers. The History Department would be much poorer without its graduate students, but graduate programs bring with them a unique set of challenges. The department will have to continue to fight for funding to maintain a library that will support the kind of work we do.
In recent years, a number of retirements (including my own) have opened up opportunities for the department to rethink its directions and bring in exciting new people who combine the best of teaching and research. In my opinion, one of our most successful recent hires (recent by history department standards, that is) is our new chairperson, Dr. Janann Sherman. Dr. Sherman has already established herself as a national force with her major biography on Senator Margaret Chase Smith, and has influenced the entire State of Tennessee with her work on National History Day. I believe and hope that under Dr. Sherman, the tradition of collegiality that we have worked so hard to create in the department will continue to strengthen.
I believe that the History Department at The University of Memphis is strong, genuinely diverse and deeply committed to its mission of serving a large urban area in both undergraduate and graduate education. I think it is a better department than I joined in 1966, and I believe that it will continue to improve. I look forward to following this progress from my retirement perch in North Carolina.
-F. Jack Hurley, Professor Emeritus
A Season of New Beginnings...Professor Emeritus F. Jack Hurley cutting the cake with his wife, Suzanne, at their wedding reception in October 2004 in Davidson, North Carolina.
The Department of History served as host for the 2004 annual meeting of the Tennessee Conference of Historians on September 17-18, 2004. Comprised mainly of historians from colleges and universities throughout Tennessee, the Conference held its first meeting in 20 years in Memphis.
The opening night reception, usually scheduled at a campus location, was held on a riverboat of the Memphis Queen Line, featuring a Mississippi River tour, catered dinner, and live music by a Memphis band on Friday evening, September 17th.
All reports confirm the success of this year's TCH meeting. With total attendance approaching 300, including both program participants and guests, all sessions were well-attended. Our success already has next year's host, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, asking how we did it.
Papers covered a variety of topics, from regional to European history, attracting scholars from several institutions. The conference's opening session was an introduction to Memphis historical sites, as presented by Jim Johnson of the Memphis-Shelby County Public Library, Doug Cupples from The University of Memphis, Tim Huebner of Rhodes College, Marius Carriere of Christian Brothers University, Ron Walter, President and General Manager of WREG-TV and member of the Tennessee Historical Commission, and Charles Crawford of The University of Memphis. Other panels provided informative reviews on such topics as Tennessee's death penalty debate, Civil Rights, African American history, Women's Studies and Memphis history.
At the luncheon program held Saturday, September 18, 2004, the featured speaker was former Tennessee governor, and former student of The University of Memphis, Winfield Dunn, who was introduced by Shirley Raines, President of The University of Memphis. An audience of 150 heard his firsthand account of the Election of 1970, a pivotal point in Tennessee History when the State's 100-year participation in the Solid South ended, and Tennessee became a two-party state.
The Conference was organized by a local arrangements committee of nine members. Duties at the meeting were handled by a conference staff of 14, consisting mainly of graduate students from the Department of History. Dean Henry Kurtz of the College of Arts and Sciences, Department Chair Janann Sherman, and corporate friends of the Department of History provided funding for this year's conference. Douglas Cupples arranged the program and Charles Crawford served as the 2004 President of the Tennessee Conference of Historians.
(Top Photo): David Jackson (Ph.D., 1997) spends time with Dean Henry Kurtz of the College of Arts and Sciences and Charles Crawford prior to boarding one of the Memphis Queen riverboats.
(Below Left): Members of the U of M History faculty enjoy the opening reception of the TCH Conference (from left corner: Arwin Smallwood, Robert Gudmestad, Guiomar Duenas-Vargas and Aram Goudsouzian).
(Below Right): Several Ph.D. alumni participated in this year's TCH Conference, including (seated from left, Row 1) Judy LeForge (2002), U of M Director of African and African American Studies Beverly Bond (1995),Julie Elb (2003), (Row 2, from left) Gary Edwards (2004), Michael Bertrand (1995), Kent Moran (1999), TCH Program Chair Douglas Cupples (1995), Lawrence Gundersen, Jr. (2004).
"The past is never dead," once wrote William Faulkner. "It's not even the past." History is how we remember the past, and interpretations of the past constantly change. So the Department of History values scholars who continue to shape how we think about the past and what it says about the present. Our historians continue to produce compelling research and remain engaged in both academic and teaching communities, as this survey of some of the past year's professional activity indicates:
James Blythe has completed two articles in the last year, both with John La Salle. The first, "Was Ptolemy of Lucca a Civic Humanist? Reflections on a Newly-Discovered Manuscript of Hans Baron," is in press at History of Political Thought. The second examines whether certain republican ideas originated with Thomas Aquinas, as usually believed, or with Ptolemy of Lucca, and has been submitted for publication. In May he was the organizer of and presenter at a session, "Medieval Italian Republicanism: New Studies on the Legacy of Hans Baron" at the 39th International Congress on Medieval Studies, in Kalamazoo, and also chaired a session there, titled "Rome, Parma, Venice." This semester he is on a Professional Development Assignment, working on a book, tentatively called The Life and Thought of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca), 1236-1327. He will go to Italy next spring to complete research for the book. He will return as Graduate Coordinator of the History Department in Spring 2005, when he will also teach a graduate seminar about medieval women.
Beverly Bond co-authored with Janann Sherman Memphis in Black and White (cover shown on right ), winner of the Book Award from the Shelby County Historical Commission. A recent inductee into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and currently a visiting scholar with the Benjamin Hooks Institute for Social Change, she has recently written a book review for Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies and presented papers at the Mid-American Conference on History and the Fourth Annual Civil Rights Conference at the University of Tennessee-Martin. She has also given public lectures on African American History to the Food and Drug Administration, the Christian United Missionary Baptist Church, the Customs and Border Protection, and Jack and Jill, Inc. This past summer she taught a workshop for elementary school teachers as part of a Teaching American History Grant, and she currently teaches a graduate course for secondary school teachers.
Peter Brand is now directing an archaeological project in Egypt, the Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project, which is recording and conserving the inscriptions on one of the largest ancient monuments in Egypt. He was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and has taken a team of Egyptologists and graduate students to Egypt for a 3-month season.
Walter R. (Bob) Brown has been working as an Adjunct Curator of Decorative Arts at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. He curated an exhibition entitled "Circa 1900," composed of works from the permanent collection illustrating the diversity of aesthetic expression and innovation in the decorative and fine arts at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. He completed the decorative arts section of the Museum catalogue, which will be published this November. He also located, researched, and supervised the acquisition of four objects for the Museum's permanent collection, including a late 18th-century English painted and gilded armchair. Currently he is in the final stages of work on a large exhibition, "Memphis Collects: The Glory of Georgian England," opening December 5, 2004. The exhibit will showcase paintings, drawings, prints, furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, and textiles from the period roughly 1700-1840.
Charles Crawford currently serves as President of the Tennessee Conference of Historians (see story on TCH) and as a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the Southern Historical Association, with duties in arranging the annual meeting at Memphis in November 2004. A regular reader for The University Press of Kentucky and The University Press of Mississippi, he has also served as a guest lecturer at Rhodes College on Memphis history and at Christian Brothers University on military history. He often writes columns on requested topics for The Commercial Appeal, and regularly gives interviews on historical topics for both print and broadcast media. Among them, local stations WMC-TV (NBC affiliate), WKNO (PBS) and WYPL-FM, along with The Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and TV-TOKYO (in translation) for broadcast throughout Japan. He just completed a term as President of the Kiwanis Club of Memphis. Dr. Crawford's service to the University's graduate program continues, with the graduations of Lawrence G. Gundersen, Jr., his 21st dissertation, and Carl E. Brown, his 57th master's degree student, in May 2004, as well as serving as a committee member and chair for other students in the Department of History and various other departments working toward both degrees. In addition, he has also served on the program of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), Oral History Association (OHA), the Mid-America Conference on History (MACH), Ohio Valley Historical Conference (OVHC) and the Southern Historical Association (SHA).
Maurice Crouse was nominated for the 2003-2004 Thomas W. Briggs Excellence in Teaching Award. He claims that the award went to a far more deserving friend in another department, but he is notoriously modest. Dr. Crouse serves as the website manager for the Department of History webpage (http://history.memphis.edu/), and has developed two history courses in the TBR Regents Online Degree Program, UNIV 3580 - Hebrew and Greek Legacy, and UNIV 3581 - Faith, Reason and Imagination.
Doug Cupples continued to serve on the West Tennessee Historical Society Board of Directors, in addition to his duties as Secretary of the Shelby County Historical Society. He gave programs on "The Common Soldier of the Civil War" to the Campus School and to the Senior History Honors Class at Christian Brothers University. He gave another program on the Lincoln-Douglas Debates to The University of Memphis History Department Honors Program, and a third on "Memphis Civil War History," to The Epsilon Nu Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. He was also interviewed by FOX 13 (WHBQ-TV, Memphis) regarding the role of African Americans in the Civil War, and the Memphis and Shelby County Public Library videotaped and broadcast an interview with him on "Flags and Symbols of the American Civil War." He was also a presenter at the Spring Colloquium Teaching American History Project for Memphis City Schools in partnership with The University of Memphis. He has also delivered versions of a talk entitled "Civil War Memphis Visible Today" to the Mid-American Conference on History, the Tennessee Conference of Historians, and the Southern Historical Conference. He continues researching a general history of fine art and art education in the Memphis and Mid-South area by conducting oral history interviews and visiting local archival libraries.
Guiomar Duenas-Vargas wrote a chapter on Colombian and Venezuelan political participation for the book Las mujeres de Hispanoamerica, and recently travelled to Colombia to deliver an invited lecture. She also served as a guest speaker during the "Great Conversations 2004" evening lectures hosted by The University of Memphis College of Arts and Sciences.
Jim Fickle has had an especially busy year. He published an article, "Forest Products: The South's Forgotten Industry," in the Journal of Mississippi History and a book, Timber: A Photographic History Of Mississippi Forestry, with University Press of Mississippi. He also co-authored a book, History of the Arthur Temple School of Forestry, forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin State University this fall. He spoke at meetings of the Mississippi Forestry Association, Southern Forest Products Association, and Southern Hardwood Forest Research Group at the Center for Bottomland Forestry Research. Dr. Fickle also received a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service for research leading to a book on forestry research in the South. He recently signed a contract with University of Illinois Press to do a book on the history of tennis for the "History of Sport in American Society" series.
Robert Frankle was awarded the University's Distinguished Teacher Award in 2004, his second time to receive the award. He has also written several book reviews, which have been featured in the Reader's Guide to British History.
Aram Goudsouzian joined the History Department this fall. A graduate of Purdue University, he taught at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York before coming to Memphis. He had two books published this year: Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon (cover shown on right), with University of North Carolina Press, and The Hurricane of 1938, with Commonwealth Editions. His essay, "All Gods Dead: Babe Ruth and Boston, 1918-1920," will appear in The Rock, the Curse, and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports, forthcoming in spring 2005 from Harvard University Press. He is currently researching a project entitled Rooting for Goliath: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Basketball Revolution.
Robert Gudmestad also joined the History Department this fall. He had been teaching at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. In 2004, LSU Press published Gudmestad's first book, A Troublesome Commerce: The Transformation of the Interstate Slave Trade (cover shown on left). Dr. Gudmestad is a graduate of Louisiana State University, which he insists is the undisputed current national football champion. He is currently researching the influence of steamboats on the antebellum South.
Jonathan Judaken completed his manuscript, Jean-Paul and 'the Jewish Question': Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual, which is under consideration for the "Texts and Contexts" series, published by University of Nebraska Press. He published two articles, with two others slated for publication in refereed academic journals. Dr. Judaken also published lead articles in the Encyclopedia of Modern French Thought, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture, and has forthcoming the lead article and a number of shorter articles in Encyclopedia of Antisemitism. He reviewed two books, attended two scholarly conferences, and gave several talks at The University of Memphis. Dr. Judaken was an invited participant at the international conference on "Sartre's Century" at Johns Hopkins University in October 2004. His year was capped when he was awarded the Early Career Research Award at the annual meeting of the College of Arts and Sciences, an award presented to one scholar in the humanities and one scholar in the sciences at The University of Memphis.
Dennis Laumann published an article, "A Historiography of German Togoland, or The Rise and Fall of a 'Model Colony,'" in the journal History of Africa, and he has written the introductory chapter to a new book, entitled The Ewes of Togo and Benin(2004). He delivered a presentation, "The origins of the Hare Krishna Movement in Ghana," at the Annual Conference of the Historical Society in Ghana in July 2004, and will present another paper, "Haiti and West Africa's Slave Coast: Historic and Cultural Links," at the Festival of African Races in Havana, Cuba in November. Dr. Laumann was named the 2004 Advisor of the Year at The University of Memphis President's Recognition Award Ceremony for his work with the African Student Association. In addition, he also won the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award by the University Honors Program.
Janann Sherman was promoted to full professor, awarded the first Olin Atkins three-year fellowship, and took over as Chair of the History Department in August 2004. She remains the director of a three-year Teaching American History Grant, in partnership with the Memphis City Schools, a program to enhance teacher development in history. Because of these commitments, Dr. Sherman has stepped down as state coordinator for National History Day, although she continues to serve on the national board. In addition, she continues her research on aviation pioneer Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie.
C. Edward (Ed) Skeen published a book, 1816: America Rising (cover shown on right), with The University Press of Kentucky. This past summer, his essay, "1816: A Year of Transition," appeared in the journal Historically Speaking. Dr. Skeen also wrote two book reviews. For the fifteenth year, he was a reader of AP History essays for the Educational Testing Service.
Arwin Smallwood is currently completing two new works, Mapping Colonial American History and Mapping Native American History, both of which are atlases being published by McGraw-Hill. He organized a session for the Southern Historical Association entitled "The Forgotten History of Dixie: The Legal and Historical Origins of the South's Tri-Racial People," at which he presented the paper, "The Tuscarora of North Carolina and the Origins of the America's First Tri-Racial People." Dr. Smallwood recently served as a commentator at the Mid-America Conference on History (MACH) and the annual Graduate Students Conference in African American History at The University of Memphis, as well as participating in The Southern Festival of Books, High School Scholars Seminar, and the 2004 Tennessee Conference of Historians annual meeting.
Stephen Stein presented papers on online teaching at the Tennessee Board of Regents E-Learning Academy and at the 2004 Tennessee Conference of Historians annual meeting. In addition, Dr. Stein also presented a paper on the Greely Relief Expedition at the 'Homecoming through the Ages' Conference at Austin Peay State University. His article, "New Navy, Old World: The U.S. Navy's Foreign Arms Purchasing in the Late 19th Century," appeared in a collection entitled Girding for Battle: Arms Sales in a Global Perspective, 1800-1950, out with Praeger Press. He also has an entry for Encyclopedia of Religion and War entitled "Jewish Revolt of 66 to 73."
Lung-kee Sun returned from a visiting position in Taiwan in August 2003. During his sojourn, he put together two books. One was a new edition of his 1983 book, Deep Structure of Chinese Culture, and the other a collection of his scholarly articles with extensive rewriting, entitled Historian's Warp: Essays in History and Psychology. Both are over 350 pages, in Chinese, and have been published by Guangxi Normal University Press in 2004. Meanwhile, Dr. Sun is still working on his "millennial project," China in the Last Millennium, while also reworking on his New Millennium Pedagogical Manual: Teachers' Survival Kit in the Age of Dusfunction, a manual about applying the techniques of radical behavioral modifications to freshman classes where the so-called "meeting of the minds" does not occur. He has also written several film reviews in the past year.
Daniel Unowsky published two articles this past year. "Our Gratitude has no Limit: Polish Nationalism, Dynastic Patriotism, and the 1880 Imperial Inspection Tour of Galicia" appeared in the 2003 edition of Austrian History Yearbook, the most prestigious journal for central and eastern European history. His long review essay, "The Last Years of the Habsburg Monarchy," appeared in the June edition of The Historical Journal. Dr. Unowsky also completed a book chapter, "Staging Habsburg Patriotism: Dynastic Loyalty and the 1898 Imperial Jubilee," which was published by Berghahn Books in October 2004 in Constructing Nationalities in East Central Europe. His first book, The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism: Imperial Celebrations in Habsburg Austria, 1848-1916, will be published by Purdue University Press as part of its series on Central European Studies. He is also co-editing a volume of with Laurence Cole of the University of East Anglia. The volume, The Limits of Loyalty: Imperial Celebrations and the Dynamics of State Patriotism in the Late Habsburg Monarchy, will include essays by British, Israeli, German, and Austrian scholars and appear in the "Center for Austrian Studies" series published by Berghahn Books.
Our graduate students are the glue that binds the department. In addition to teaching, grading, and working in administrative roles, they produce compelling research and immerse themselves in the academic community. As one great and far-ranging example, graduate students Dianna Fraley (photo in Graduate Students' Digest), Angela Martin (shown in photo below), David Turpie (photo in Graduate Students' Digest), Josh Gorman, Carl Brown (shown in photo below), Lori Clanton, Graham Perry, Derek Rotty, Reggie Ellis, John Robertson, Ann Mulhearn, Leigh Ann Wilson and Jeff Jones (along with Charles Buckner from the University College, David Madlock from Political Science, and Sharon Bynum from the University of Mississippi) organized and participated in the Sixth Annual Graduate Student Conference in African American History. Michael Bertrand (Ph.D. 1995) delivered the keynote address.
Preston Hardy and Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls of The University of Tennessee-Martin received the Outstanding Acheivement Award for their Third Annual Conference on Civil Rights at the National Meeting of the American Association of State and Local History in St. Louis, Missouri on October 1, 2004.
Horace Houston (shown in photo below) delivered a paper titled "Shedding Some New Light on Some Old Fires: Savonarola's Bonfires Viewed in their Larger Historical Context in the West" at the May 2004 meeting of the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the paper, he discussed the topic of public bonfires and book burning, especially as such bonfires were employed by one of Savonarola's most important predecessors, Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444). Horace also stepped outside his field and produced an article "Another Nullification Crisis: Vermont's 1850 Habeas Corpus Law" in the June 2004 issue of the ultra-prestigious journal New England Quarterly. In that article, he documented how Vermont, in response to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, had used "practical nullification" as a strategy to fight for racial justice and freedom.
Matthew D. Mason is an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He works primarily with the photographic, fine art, and visual resources of the repository. He recently completed a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He expects to finish his dissertation, based on a specific example of using and misusing photographic image, in 2005.
Harley Melton was invited by Dr. Marilyn Young, Professor of History at NYU and Director of the International Center for Advanced Studies Project on the Cold War as Global Conflict, to present a lecture on the Vietnam War for her Honors Seminar on the Vietnam War. Harley provided in advance copies of selected chapters of his novel, Touch Not This Wall, as a basis for discussion. His lecture topic was "A Game of Numbers," in which he demonstrated how the numbers so often quoted in texts and articles about the Vietnam War and its aftermath have been skewed to fit the agenda of the authors, be their agenda right- or left-wing.
Ann Mulhearn recently presented a paper, "We Are Concerned: The Concerned Women of Memphis and the 1969 Sanitation Strike" at the Mid-America Conference on History (MACH) in Springfield, Missouri. Another paper, "Dangerous Liaisons: The Louisiana Farmers" Alliance, the Anti-Lottery League and the Gubernatorial Election of 1892" was accepted for presentation at the Southwest Historical Association meeting in New Orleans, March, 2005.
Heather Sayre (seated in photo below) has accompanied Dr. Peter Brand to work on the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project in Luxor, Egypt from October 20, 2004 to January 12, 2005.
Elton Weaver published an article entitled "The Metamorphosis of C.H. Mason: Origins of Black Pentecostal churches in Tennessee," in The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers volume 57, 2003/04 issue. This article won The Shelby County Historical Commission Award for best essay/journal article for 2003/2004. He was also afforded an opportunity to present another paper on Mason, "It was about Race: Bishop C.H. Mason and the Origins of the Assemblies of God 1907-1914," during the University of Chicago's 11th Annual Eyes on the Mosaic Graduate Student Conference in April 2004. Elton also has an article entitled "Bishop C.H. Mason: Master of Metaphoric Preaching," (where he examines Mason and the Negro sermon) appearing in the winter 2004-2005 issue of The African American Pulpit.
Graduate students Bob Masters and Heather Sayre (seated), along with (standing l-r) Horace Houston, Angela Martin and Carl Brown served as members of the 2004 TCH Conference Ambassadors Staff, assisting faculty, participants and special guests during the two-day event.
The Sixth Annual Graduate Student Conference in African American History was held at The University of Memphis on October 22, 2004. In recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of rock and roll, the theme of this year's conference was "Race and Rock." Students representing universities in the Mid-South presented papers on a wide range of topics. This year saw several changes for the conference. For the first time, the conference was more interdisciplinary, with students representing the English and Sociology Departments, in addition to the History Department. We had a much larger number of local university students participating than in previous years.
The conference was opened with a session led by Dr. Laura Helper-Ferris, visiting scholar at the Center for Research on Women (CROW). Her discussion was entitled "Why Memphis?" In a brief session, she presented her research and ideas on the reasons for the prominence of Memphis in the music scene of early rock and roll.
A special plenary session for graduate students, entitled "The Road to the Future," was added this year. Faculty members led a panel discussion on the process of the job search, interviewing tips, and career success. Faculty members included Drs. Janann Sherman, Robert Gudmestad, Aram Goudsouzian and Arwin Smallwood of The University of Memphis, along with Dr. Cherisse Jones of Arkansas State University.
The conference ended with a keynote speech and reception at the STAX Museum of American Music. Attendees enjoyed a tour of the museum and a soulful reception provided by Ferdinand's Catering. This year's keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Bertrand, assistant professor at Tennessee State University. Bertrand received his Ph.D. from The University of Memphis, and is the author of Race, Rock and Elvis (2000), which is slated to be released in paperback by The University of Illinois Press. His address was titled "Neither Black nor White: The Southern Roots of American Popular Music."
The "Memphis State Eight" paper prize was awarded at the end of the evening, and marked another first for the African American history conference. This year's recipient was Graham Perry of The University of Memphis. The award-winning paper was titled "A Bend in the River: An Investigation of Black Agency, Autonomy and Resistance in Memphis, Tennessee." This was the first year that someone from the University had won this coveted award.
The African American Graduate History Forum would like to thank all participants, graduate workers, and faculty who attended the conference. We would especially like to thank the faculty members who assisted in making this year's conference a success.
The Epsilon Nu chapter has begun the new academic year with a series of faculty presentations on the theme of "History and Politics." In September, Dr. Jonathan Judaken delivered an intriguing lecture on the apartheid system in South Africa and in November Dr. Lung-kee Sun engaged us with a presentation on recent historical films, including "King Arthur," "The Manchurian Candidate," and "Hero." The semester concluded with a December presentation by our new Latin American historian, Dr. Guiomar Duenas-Vargas, speaking on the topic of women in Colombian political history. Our chapter also hosted its very first "Film Night" in October, featuring a screening of "The Name of the Rose," followed by a discussion session led by Dr. Jim Blythe, Professor of Medieval History at The University of Memphis. This movie event was a great success which we expect to become an Epsilon Nu tradition. In March 2004, our chapter inducted 25 new members at the annual Department of History Awards Ceremony and Phi Alpha Theta Initiation. Our distinguished speaker was Dr. Richard Hovannisian, Professor of History at UCLA, who spoke about the Armenian genocide and the moral responsibility of the historian. The Epsilon Nu chapter will invite a prominent scholar of Latin American history to speak at our initiation ceremony in April 2005. Stay tuned for details. If you are interested in joining the Epsilon Nu chapter, contact Karen Bradley, the department's Senior Administrative Secretary and Office Manager, by phone at (901) 678-2515 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a membership form. Remember it is never too late to join Phi Alpha Theta, as history alumni are welcome to participate in our organization!
"If it hadn't been for Memphis State," mused Kenneth Jackson, "I don't know what would have happened to me."
Dr. Jackson — the Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University, the Director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for the Study of American History, and a former president of the Organization of American Historians and the New York Historical Society — was sitting in Three Little Pigs Barbecue on Quince Road in Memphis, Tennessee, eating a jumbo barbecue sandwich, and reflecting upon how his years as an undergraduate history major at Memphis State University had shaped his future success.
As a high school student, Jackson had been a solid if uninspired student. He enrolled at Memphis State in the fall of 1957, and the college experience transformed him. Professor Marcus Orr, he recalled, "changed my life. When he would speak, his eyes would sparkle." Jackson had barely ever left Memphis, but when he absorbed Orr"s lectures, he felt transported back into the Renaissance. He recalls fondly other professors such as longtime chair Enoch Mitchell, Leonard Curry, and Aaron Boom. He never took a class with James Burrows, but Dr. Burrows was the favorite of his girlfriend Barbara — now Barbara Bruce Jackson, his wife and chair of the English Department at Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, New York.
During his time as a history major, Jackson awakened to a wider world. A white teenager in a segregated city, he had never fully considered the injustice of Jim Crow. But his education aroused him to the burgeoning civil rights struggle. As an officer of Pi Kappa Alpha and a delegate to its 1960 convention in Miami, he led the charge to eliminate the fraternity's "white-only" clause in its national charter.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1961, Jackson won a highly prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and entered graduate school in history at the University of Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. in 1966, served for three years as an officer in the United States Air Force, and joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1968. He has since become a doyenne of American urban history, a status solidified by his classic Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (Oxford, 1985), winner of both the Francis Parkman and Bancroft Prizes. He has written numerous other monographs and is editor-in-chief of both the Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives and Encyclopedia of New York City.
To his own surprise, Jackson has also emerged as a public intellectual. He has been a featured guest on the NBC Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and The History Channel. He has been received by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and by Bill Clinton at the White House. But he remains a teacher, a calling inspired by his professors at Memphis State. His course on the history of New York City has achieved legendary status among Columbia undergraduates, and he has won teaching awards given by both students and alumni associations.
"You're a part of all you've met," says Professor Jackson, channeling Walt Whitman while munching on barbecue. As a history major, Jackson met great professors, and they became a part of him.
Stephanie Gilmore (M.A., 1997), is finishing up her dissertation at Ohio State University. She is set to defend in April 2005 and is on the job market this year. This should help: Her article, based upon her Master's thesis, "The Dynamics of Second Wave Feminism in Memphis, 1971-1982: Rethinking the Liberal/Radical Divide," won the award from the Southern Association Women's Historians for Best Article on Southern Women's History this year. In announcing the prize, the presenter noted that Stephanie's article has changed how we view second wave feminism not only in the South, but the entire country. Her dissertation is a comparison of the National Organization for Women chapters in three cities: Memphis, Dayton, and San Francisco.
While making your list and checking it twice this holiday season, be sure to keep your History Department in mind.
Consider donating to the Department of History Alumni Scholarship Fund. It's a great opportunity to give back to your alma mater and assist current students seeking a degree in History. Please make checks payable to the Department of History, The University of Memphis, and mail to:
Alumni Scholarship Fund
For more information on the Department of History Alumni Scholarship Fund, please contact the History Department at (901) 678-2515.
-The Faculty and Staff of the Department of History at The University of Memphis