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Meetings & Events


Plenary Sessions

American History from the Inside Out:Putting St. Louis's History of Cities, Suburbs, and Race Relations to Work to Reconfigure the National Narrative

Thursday, April 16
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

The Humor in History and The History of Humor

Friday, April 17
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

 

The Future of the Historical Community: Activating Empathy within the OAH's "Big Tent"

 

Friday, April 17
5:15 pm - 6:45 pm

Historicizing Ferguson: Police Violence and the Genesis of a National Movement

 

Saturday, April 18
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

American History from the Inside Out:
Putting St. Louis's History of Cities, Suburbs, and Race Relations to Work to Reconfigure the National Narrative

Supported by the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Thursday, April 16
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Introduction: Patricia Limerick, OAH President
Chair: Peter Kastor, Washington University in St. Louis
Speakers:
Keona Ervin ,University of Missouri
Clarence Lang University of Kansas
Eric Sandweiss Indiana University
Kevin Gaines University of Michigan

This plenary takes the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, as a point of departure for considering how our understanding of the past changes when we move the focus away from the familiar focus on the cities of the East and West Coasts. Most history survey courses and grand historical narratives tell a fundamentally coastal story that usually begins in the East and moves West. But what happens when that story begins at the center, moving from the inside out? Rather than start with places like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, this plenary situates the St. Louis region in its own context of cities in the continental interior, places with their own histories that both confirm and challenge the histories from the coasts. In the process, this plenary engages some of the most timely questions facing historians: How should historians respond to current events like the killing of Michael Brown? What places and histories should assume primacy in our scholarship and our teaching? How can historians identify larger continuities and changes on a truly national scale?
The speakers on this panel each engage a different methodological perspective in appraising the significance of St. Louis history as a point of orientation for national history.
Please Note: After the formal session, audience members will be welcome to stay in the room to continue the discussion of the historical implications of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri

 

 


The Humor in History and The History of Humor

Sponsored by the Center of the American West in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Friday, April 17
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Bob Mankoff, The New Yorker Magazine

History is a serious business, unless, that is, you're in the humor business, in that case its all grist to the mockery mill. And if all is fair in love and war, this talk will demonstrate that pretty much all is fair game for the cartoonists of  The New Yorker magazine when it comes to history.

For close to ninety years the cartoonists of  The New Yorker magazine have turned a jaundiced eye, combined with an acerbic pen on events as various as the fall of the Roman Empire to the fall of Richard Nixon and much in between these two events and since. But if there is humor to be had in history, humor itself also has had a history. This talk will review what made people laugh then and now, from the ancient laughter of the Greek and Romans to the latest Internet memes.

This plenary will also include the winner of the caption contest - details to be found in the Annual Meeting Program  released January 2015.


The Future of the Historical Community: Activating Empathy within the OAH's "Big Tent"

Friday, April 17
5:15 pm - 6:45 pm

Chair and Commentator: Patty Limerick, Center of the American West, University of Colorado, OAH President, 2014–2015
Panelists:
• Darlene S. Antezana, Prince Georges Community College, Largo, Maryland
• Robert Good, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, St. Louis
• Johann Nuru Neem, Western Washington University
• Katherine Ott, Division of Science and Medicine, Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
• Donald W. Rogers, Central Connecticut State University and chair of the OAH Committee on Part-Time, Adjunct, and Contingent Employment; co-creator of this plenary session
• Quintard Taylor, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Chair of American History, University of Washington

 

Can we move forward with our common historical enterprise when we are a profession increasingly structured by inequality and seemingly inflexible hierarchies? Can we build an understanding of our community that is both honest and congenial? Can we define advocacy for historical understanding as a common enterprise that we can promote, individually and collectively?

Can empathy reach across the borders of our occupational diversity? Taking up these questions is an enterprise that directly matches the conference theme of challenging taboos—in this case, the taboo against fully facing up to the realities of our profession's changing composition. In fact, this session takes as its premise the possibility that we may know more about and better understand the people of the past than we know and understand about each other. We aim the session at a deeper assessment of the prospects for bridge-building and alliance-forming in the OAH's "big tent" of people who have placed the study of American history at the center of their lives. We are eager to take this opportunity to invite the OAH's diverse constituencies to talk—and to listen—to each other in a constructive atmosphere without need of defensiveness or deflection of unsettling recognitions.
A primary goal of the session is to explore the prospects for heightened communication between the shrinking tenured core of the profession, and historians working in a wide variety of positions. Thus, this session will challenge the idea of the tenure-track professor as the exclusive model or norm for today's historical profession. The contingent constituency and the tenured constituency remain largely isolated from—and skeptical of—each other, while public historians, professors in research universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges, and K-12 teachers, miss opportunities to find their shared interests.
A number of researchers looking at the phenomenon of empathy have raised the question about the connection of empathy to altruism and other forms of action. It is our hope that the participants in this session will also explore this question. If we can move toward a more vital exercise of empathy across our professional categories, what action might follow from that?
The session will begin with brief remarks from OAH President Patty Limerick, on 1) the origins and ambitions of this session; 2) the "taboo" on full and forthright acknowledgment of the status hierarchy that shapes our profession and why it is in everyone's interest to defy that taboo; and 3) the "big tent" of the OAH, with a recognition of this plenary session as an opportunity to listen to and know each other across our categories of employment.
Rather than the usual format of ten-minute opening statements), panelists will be given three or four questions to contemplate ahead of time, centered on the central inquiry, "How can we move forward with our common historical enterprise when we are so inequitably divided. We will be able to keep the room for a spell after the formal session,, and audience members are invited to stay to pursue the issues raised by the panel.

Historicizing Ferguson: Police Violence and the Genesis of a National Movement

Saturday, April 18
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Chair and Commentator: Donna Murch, Rutgers university
Panelists:
• Kayla Reed, Organization for Black Struggle organizaer
• T-Dubb-O, Cyber activist and hip hop artist
• Beverly Jones, rank and file protestor

The Ferguson Police Department's shooting of eighteen-year old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 has sparked a sustained campaign against police violence in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and more recently, throughout cities across the United States. By creatively mixing social media and street protest, this remarkably dense mobilization has lasted nearly six months. Ferguson activists have inspired an extensive national network of allies and supporters as well as international solidarity efforts. Indeed, many young protestors repeatedly invoke Stokely Carmichael's plea to "Organize, Organize,Organize." In New York City, Los Angeles, and numerous other communities, a nation-wide campaign has cohered around the claim that "Black Lives Matter." While it is adiverse movement with multiple tendencies, an explicit goal is to seek justice for victims of police shootings and to help activists create anti-police / anti-state violence groups, organizations, and policy changes at the municipal, state and federal level. The daily protests, sit-ins, flash mobs, permitted and spontaneous marches and other acts of civil disobedience have placed St. Louis at the center of a burgeoning youth movement against racism and state violence. Arguably, these demonstrations represent the most sustained anti-racist effort since the urban rebellions of the 1960s and 1970s. To address Ferguson's historical significance, the Organization of American Historians will hold a special Saturday night session on April 18, 2015 at 8pm. Rutgers professor Donna Murch will provide analysis of the past year's events and then lead a discussion with St. Louis activists, including Organization for Black Struggle organizer Kayla Reed, hip hop artist and cyber activist T-Dubb-O who recently met with President Obama, and rank and file protestor Beverly Jones. The formal presentation will be followed by a question and answer period with the audience. This plenary session will provide a unique opportunity to bring together Ferguson activists, members of the broader St. Louis community and American historians from the across the US to discuss one of the most important social movements of our time.