Jim Downs will talk about emancipation and illness in his talk titled “Dying to Be Free: The Unintended Consequences of Emancipation During the American Civil War and Reconstruction” on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in Fulton Hall, room 511. Downs is the author of Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Drawing on a number of unexamined records at the National Archives, Downs shed light on a smallpox epidemic that devastated newly freed slaves and how cholera, dysentery, and yellow fever threatened the lives of emancipated slaves. Downs is an associate professor of history at Connecticut College. Sponsors: American Studies Program and the Institute for the Liberal Arts.
Author Eileen Markey will discuss her book, A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura, on Feb. 22 at 4:30 p.m. in McGuinn Auditorium. A Radial Faith follows the life of Sister Maura Clarke, one of four U.S. churchwomen murdered by a Salvadoran death squad during the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s. Drawing on interviews with Sister Maura’s family and the people she loved and worked with, her letters, and heavily‑redacted government documents, Markey follows Sister Maura’s spiritual and political journey. According to Markey, working in poor communities transformed Sister Maura from an obedient and rule-bound young woman into a provocative critic of authority who pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be faithful to religious conviction — even if it meant challenging the CIA-backed regimes terrorizing the poor of Latin America. Markey is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Reporter, America, and Commonweal. | New York Times book review. Co-sponsors: Center for Human Rights and International Justice and the Church in the 21st Century Center | RSVP requested.
Political historian Heather Cox Richardson recently reviewed The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith. LeHand, FDR’s private secretary, is described as a child of Irish immigrants who rose “to become second only to Eleanor [Roosevelt] as the most powerful woman in America.” A professor of history, Richardson is the author of several books, including To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party. Washington Post review.
On Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. in Higgins Hall, room 300, scientist David R. Montgomery will talk about his investigation of the world’s flood stories and the counterintuitive role Noah’s Flood played in the development of both geology and creationism. In his book The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood, Montgomery takes readers on a journey across landscapes and cultures in a discovery that reveals the illusive nature of truth, whether viewed through the lens of science or religion, and how it changed through history and continues changing, even today. Montgomery is a professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and an award-winning author. Sponsor: Environmental Studies Program.
University of Edinburgh Professor of History Enda Delaney will present “Out of Time: Ireland and Modernity” as part of the 2017 Thomas J. Flatley Irish Studies Lecture Series. His talk will take place Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. in Connolly House. Born and raised in Dublin, Delaney is the author of The Great Irish Famine: A History in Four Lives; The Irish in Post-War Britain; and Demography, State and Society: Irish Migration to Britain, 1921-1971, among others. His current book project is about the Irish encounter with modernity, tentatively titled Making Ireland Modern: Society and Culture since 1780. His lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Sponsor: Center for Irish Programs.
Counterterrorism and Middle East security expert Daniel Byman, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, will present “A Progress Report on the War on Terror” on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in McGuinn Auditorium. Byman’s most recent book is Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know. Byman served as a staff member with the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (“The 9/11 Commission”) and the Joint 9/11 Inquiry Staff of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. He is also senior associate dean for undergraduate affairs at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and a professor in its Security Studies Program. His other publications include A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism; Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism, and The Five Front War: The Better Way to Fight Global Jihad. Sponsors: Islamic Civilization & Societies Program and Middle Eastern and Islamic Student Association.
Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story, a memoir by Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies Maxim D. Shrayer has been released in a paperback edition. The first English-language, autobiographical and nonfictional account of growing up Jewish in the former USSR, Leaving Russia poignantly conveys the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of Shrayer’s family, who left the Soviet Union in 1987. The Shrayer family was among the veteran Jewish refuseniks who, during the dawn of Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, were granted exit visas to emigrate from the country. Narrated in the tradition of Tolstoy’s confessional trilogy and Nabokov’s autobiography, Leaving Russia offers a searing account of growing up a Jewish refusenik, of a young poet’s rebellion against totalitarian culture, and Soviet fantasies of the West during the Cold War. “It was important to tell this story because the Jewish experience in Russia—and especially during the Soviet period—is not fully understood in America,” Shrayer said, “this despite the fact that it’s now difficult to imagine the fabric of our communities without ex-Soviet Jews.” More from BC News.