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‘History Comes Alive’ at Oakland University

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October 10, 2017

Oakland University’s popular “
History Comes Alive” lecture series, which continues on Wednesday, Oct. 18, kicked off last month with a special presentation on “The Underground Railroad: Legend vs. History” by De Witt S. Dykes, Jr., Ph.D., an associate professor with OU’s Department of History.
“De Witt gave a focused, fact-filled lecture that helped to sort out undocumented legends from historically verifiable material in a richly informative talk,” said Todd Estes, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of History at Oakland University.
“The attendance was phenomenal,” Estes added. “We had our second largest crowd ever – and certainly a record for the opening night lecture – with an interested, engaged audience of 191 people. De Witt did an excellent job of responding to questions and engaging them in conversation.”
Now in its 14th year, the Department of History’s annual lecture series highlights a variety of historic events – some serious, some not so serious.
According to Estes, this year's topics will include: 
• “An Oral History Workshop” – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017: Dan Clark, Ph.D., an associate professor of history, will explore the complicated, contentious history of interviewing people about their past experiences, which has become a staple of research methodology over the past couple of generations. This talk will also provide guidance for those who might want to undertake oral history projects of their own.
• “Poisoned Hearts: Poison, Slavery and Intimacy in the Atlantic World, 1670-1861” – 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017: Erin Dwyer, Ph.D. an assistant professor of history will host a discussion on poison, slaver, fear and intimacy that examines how slaveholders in the Caribbean and the United States managed fear of enslaved poisoners and how slaves welded poison to resist bondage.
• “What Difference Did a Revolution Make? Military Service in Post-1952 Bolivia” – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018: This lecture by Elizabeth Shesko, Ph.D., an assistant professor of history at Oakland University, will explore the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement’s conflicted relationship with the military and how military service changed after 1952.
• “Humanism and Medicine in the Italian Renaissance” – 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018: Craig Martin, Ph.D., a professor of history at Oakland University, will discuss how Italian Renaissance physicians applied the writings of Galen, Hippocrates and others to both their theoretical understanding of the human body and their practices.
• “The Fatal Attraction of Nationalism: The Politics of Identity and Belonging in Modern Europe” – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018: This lecture by Derek Hastings, Ph.D., an associate professor with OU’s Department of History, will explore specific examples of nationalism from the French Revolution, the Nazi era and present-day Europe. Hastings will also discuss the compelling, yet often contradictory, reasons for nationalism’s forceful appeal.
All lectures will be held in Gold Rooms B and C at the Oakland Center.
“Our audience looks to Oakland University, and the Department of History specifically, to engage them in these lectures,” Estes said. “It is clear that this is a meaningful series and it is always nice to hear from our audience how much the lectures and the experience mean to them and that they leave our talks wanting more history. That is our intention and we're pleased to provide this program for so many to enjoy.”
The lecture series is made possible by generous contributions from: The Knudsen Family Foundation, The Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, with special thanks to founding sponsors John and Annette Carter.
Admission to each lecture is free, but reservations are requested. To reserve a space, call (248) 370-3511 or email
Sean Delaney, Public Information Assistant
(248) 370-3139