Written by April Winz • November 16, 2022
The University of Oregon Knight Library’s History subject librarian, Kevin McDowell, is here to help. As a librarian, he meets with students to assist them in their research projects by helping them find resources. These include books and articles for primary and secondary sources and citation management. In addition to this, he supports the teaching and research needs of history professors through collection development.
He is also currently working with a group to digitize a unique collection of more than 90 albums of Japanese woodblock prints that are held in the Library’s Special Collection and University Archives. 40 of the albums have been digitized and are available through the Oregon Digital database as the Gertrude Bass Warner Collection of Japanese Votive Slips.
McDowell graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in History and holds two MA degrees. One in Japanese History from the University of British Columbia, and the other in Information and Library Science from the University of Arizona. He started working at the Knight library as the Japanese Studies Librarian in 2012, later becoming the subject specialist for History in 2019.
April Winz is a communications specialist for the History Department at the University of Oregon.
Written by Olivia Wilkinson
During June and part of July 2022, I studied through one of the UO’s GEO study away programs, African Diaspora Studies in New Orleans & Ghana. The program was led by Dr. Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Vice President for Equity & Inclusion, and Dr. Akwasi B. Assensoh, Professor of history. The aim of the program is to build connections within the diaspora as well as offer students a chance to learn about diaspora studies in predominantly Black and African communities.
Dr. Yvette Alex-Assensoh taught the LACE framework as a way for us to build connections within ourselves, amongst members of the study away group, and finally to the wider world. LACE stands for Love, Authenticity, Courage, and Empathy. It was a unique way to learn through fully experiencing culture while feeling the lingering effects of the history that surrounded us.
We started in New Orleans, where we stayed at Xavier University, an HBCU (historically Black college/university) located in the heart of the city. We stayed for a week, then traveled to Accra, Ghana where we stayed for two weeks. Over the course of three weeks, we traveled through the history of rich culture in Louisiana and Ghana and examined how these two places are connected.
Beyond using the LACE framework to enhance our learning, I personally saw evidence of this framework in the people and places I visited in New Orleans and Ghana. One of those places was Congo Square, located in Armstrong Park in New Orleans. Enslaved people were stripped of the culture they knew and yet still expressed themselves through music and dance. They were courageous in the way they left clues for future generations in the architecture of New Orleans. They were also courageous when some ran from their enslavers, such as from plantations like the Whitney Plantation, which we visited as part of the study away program. Their acts of defiance, big and small, were all significant. Empathy was present in the ways they came together for one another beyond music and dancing in Congo Square. They found kinship in one another regardless of family and heritage because of the shared traumas of slavery.
In New Orleans, Congo Square still stands as a sacred place with centuries of shared trauma and authentic expression. The New Orleans African American Museum showcasing African American art in Tremé tells a similar story of trauma, but emphasizes the beauty and talent of modern Black artists in New Orleans. Gentrification has drastically changed the city and erased some of the Black culture, but the culture that is left is unique, authentic, and loving.
We then traveled to Accra, Ghana. The culture we experienced in Ghana was unique, yet in many ways reminiscent of New Orleans. Everywhere there was an abundance of vibrant clothing and spicy food. There is a rich culture of music and dancing that can be heard every night. The people we met in Ghana were friendly, accommodating, and community-oriented. There is a strong emphasis on family in Ghanaian daily life as well as dignity and respect for elders. We learned that in Ghanaian culture, the whole takes precedence over the individual, which informs how people conduct themselves in social situations as well as how they participate politically.
We visited sites such as the Ancestral Wall, Elmina Castle, Cape Coast Castle, and the Assin Manso Slave River. We learned about the history of the transport of enslaved people from Senegambia in the West, nearby Benin, and Congo to the southwest, through Ghana, and out to the Americas.
At the Ancestral Wall, the painted portraits that lined the wall represented a desire to know our collective history, and to especially honor how powerful the African Diaspora has been worldwide since before recorded history. We saw fascinating portraits of people from at least as far back as ancient Egypt, all the way to the present day.
At the coastal castles where the Spanish, the British, and the Dutch kept Africans captive after buying them inland, the history is imposing and not for the faint of heart. We spent time reflecting within the walls of Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle where the dungeon floors are smooth from the countless people who were kept against their will. We saw schoolchildren during our tours and learned that it recently became part of the national curriculum to teach children about Ghana’s history in the Transatlantic Trade. We learned that as part of this reckoning, a new plaque was made above the infamous Door of No Return that says “Door of Return.” This works as a way for visitors all around the world to understand the importance of acknowledging the past and moving forward toward a better future.
Slavery in the colonial era created troubling connections between the Southern United States and West Africa, but over time, the connection grew from the culture that was involuntarily transferred. The influences of West Africa are everywhere in New Orleans, from the invention of jazz to the uniquely Black Hoodoo traditions that were developed during slavery. It’s in everything.
The common thread: Love existed everywhere.
Olivia Wilkinson is a senior majoring in history and folklore and currently works in special collections in preparation for graduate school in archival studies. Some of her favorite topics in history to study include the US in the 1960s, indigenous North American history, and popular music history.
Tuesday, November 15
“We Would Have Become Fish!”: Ecological Transformations and the Human-Environment Relationship in Early Imperial China
Political consolidation and state-building efforts during the early Chinese empires led to massive ecological transformations, a fact registered in early imperial debates about infrastructure projects, especially large-scale water control systems. These debates provided opportunities to reassess the relationship between humans and the natural world, with some arguing for less active interventions in the environment. While far from our contemporary notions of environmental “sustainability” or “awareness,” such proposals for the first time theorized natural resources and ecological systems as interlinked complexes whose disruption could have long-term, unpredictable effects.
Luke Habberstad is an Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures and the Department of Religious Studies. He researches China’s late Warring States and early imperial periods (4th century BCE-2nd century CE). His publications include Forming the Early Chinese Court: Rituals, Spaces, Roles (University of Washington Press, 2017) and articles in journals and edited volumes.
Summer sessions are a great way to earn credits quickly and knock out some of those course requirements. History courses are offered during all three sessions, in a variety of intriguing topics. Check out the list below.
Looking to fulfill specific core or major credit requirements? Refer to our Group Satisfying and Multicultural Credit chart to find the right course for you.
Session I (June 21–July 18)
HIST 192, Japan Past & Present
An introductory survey of Japanese history and culture from its premodern past to its present. Utilizing lecture, art, film, and translated texts from Japanese authors, this course will explore themes of overseas contact, political change, and culture and society. does not require the purchase of a textbook. All course materials will be provided via Canvas.
HIST 363, American Business History
This class will both chronologically and thematically trace the history of American business from the colonial era up to the twenty-first century. We will focus on various topics such as the brutal businesses of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism; the development of modern management and accounting techniques; the shifting relations between employers and employees; the role of business in underrepresented communities; the rise of the military-industrial complex; business and environmental justice; and the rise of the Silicon Valley and the gig economy.
HIST 396, Samurai in Film
Examination of the image of Japan’s warrior class, the most prominent social group in Japan for over seven centuries. Combines films, readings, and lectures.
HIST 463, Sports in U.S. History
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, sports tell us a lot about who we are and where we’re going. This class examines histories of opportunity and oppression in American sports history, inviting students to be both celebratory and critical. We conclude with a special unit on sports history at the University of Oregon.
HIST 468, Pacific Northwest History
Regional history to the mid-twentieth century. How the Pacific Northwest mirrors the national experience and how the region has a distinctive history and culture.
Session 2 (July 19–Aug 15)
HIST 190, Foundations of East Asian Civilizations
What is East Asia, and how has its history shaped our contemporary world? This course serves as introduction for tackling these big questions by exploring aspects of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditional cultures from prehistory to the seventeenth century. This survey requires no prior knowledge of East Asia and all course materials will be available on Canvas.
HIST 309, Women in the U.S. II
Survey of the diverse experiences of American women from 1870 to the present.
HIST 352, U.S. in the 1960s
This course will be an online space to read, think, and talk about the Sixties as both a watershed in modern U.S. history and an era whose contested reputation continues to preoccupy current observers. Specific topics include American popular culture and countercultures, politics and presidential elections, the evolution of social activism and rights agitation, breakthroughs in science and technology, foreign policy, and national economic and environmental transformations…and much more!
HIST 368, The American West in Popular Culture
Examines the American West as reflected through popular culture of the 18th–20th centuries. The course
utilizes primary & secondary source writings, art, music, radio, television, and numerous films set in the Western genre in dialogue with one another.
HIST 449, Race and Ethnicity of Asian American Histories
How have Asian immigrants and Asian Americans shaped the U.S. today? What are the commonalities and differences across this large and diverse racial group, and how have Asian American communities defined themselves and their histories outside of mainstream racial narratives and stereotypes? This course examines these questions by exploring histories of Asians in America with a critical eye toward race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and class.
HIST 469, 20th Century Indigenous America
Variable chronological, thematic, and regional topics. Repeatable twice when topic changes for maximum of 12 credits.
Session 3 (Aug 16–Sep 12)
HIST 202,19th Century U.S. History
Creation and development of the United States and its social, economical, political, and cultural consequences. Jacksonian era, expansion, commercial and industrial revolution, slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, Gilded Age, imperialism, and the Progressive Era.
HIST 273, Environmental History
How have humans and the natural environment shaped one another over time? Environmental history is a relatively new, interdisciplinary field that examines this deceptively simple question. This course introduces students to key concepts and methods in environmental history, which explores the changing relationships between humans and nature. This course will be asynchronous to fit with students’ summer schedules.
HIST 470, Slavery in U.S. History
Explores aspects of the African American experience in the age of slavery and Reconstruction. Key topics include the origins of slavery and the slave trade; evolution of race and racism; communities and cultures of the enslaved; acts of resistance, evasion, and rebellion; racial slavery and capitalism in U.S. history.
As Native students and people of color have argued and historical records confirm, the 1919 Pioneer (toppled on June 13, 2020 by parties unknown) was meant from its creation as a celebration of violent white supremacy.
PhD candidate Marc Carpenter has researched and talked about the monument for the past two years, uncovering the sordid history of The Pioneer as part of his broader research into the memory, commemoration, and erasure of settler violence in the Pacific Northwest.
Carpenter’s research has already earned significant notice in news coverage:
To learn more, read the full report here:
Join us in congratulating Patience Collier on receiving the Margaret Wiese Graduate Research Award.
Patience is a graduate student with the Department of History, researching Native American history.
The Margaret Wiese Graduate Research Award supports graduate research related to preserving the culture, language, or artifacts of northwestern Native Americans. Learn more at gradschool.uoregon.edu.
All are invited to a free book talk presented by Bathsheba Demuth:
“The Ethical Choices of Whales: Bowheads, Hunters, and the Nature of History”
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Knight Library Browsing Room
Whales and Economy
Bowhead whales have been known by three distinct groups of hunters along the Bering Strait over the past two centuries: indigenous Yupik and Inupiaq whalers, capitalist commercial whalers, and communist industrial whalers. This talk looks at how whales became known through the labor of their killing: how were whales, particularly bowheads, imagined and treated, and how did this change across economic systems? What kind of emotional relationships were possible? And what kinds of relationships were considered ethical between humans and whales? It then examines how whales themselves responded to indigenous, capitalist, and communist hunters, examining oral histories, logbooks, diaries, and Soviet records for evidence of different whale adaptations and responses to these varied human hunting pressures.
The talk closes by asking what including whale behavior in our analysis of human-whale interactions provokes in our historical understanding, and how to situate non-human actions in human narratives of the past.
About the Speaker
Bathsheba Demuth is an environmental historian at Brown University, where she specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her interests in northern environments and cultures began when she was 18 and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon, where she spent several years training sled dogs. In the years since, she has visited and lived in Arctic communities across Eurasia and North America. She has a BA and MA from Brown University, and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in publications from the American Historical Review to the New Yorker. Her first book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Arctic is just out with Norton.
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Dr. Julie Weise,
Associate Professor, UO Department of History.
Tuesday, March 20.
Doors at 6:00 pm, talk at 7:00 pm.
Sprout Regional Food Hub,
418 A Street, Springfield, Oregon 97477.
Why are there so many Mexican immigrants in the United States, and why are so many of them undocumented? In this History Pub talk, Julie M. Weise, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Oregon, will help us answer this question. Her presentation will discuss the history of Mexican immigration to the United States, the “push” and “pull” factors that have brought so many here, and legal changes that have left so many vulnerable to deportation. She will also be happy to engage in conversation about the Trump administration’s policies towards Mexico and Mexican immigration.
Gift from Eugene residents Gordon and Sherry Paine will significantly enrich UO’s holdings of rare books.
Educate Yourself with the UO Department of History’s #Trumpsyllabus Winter 2017
Are you wondering about…
the first Populists? Take HIST 202: Building the US (Ostler)
the Mexico-U.S. border? Take HIST 248: Latinos in the Americas (Weise)
social inequalities? Take HIST 457: Gilded Age (Ostler)
celebrity-politicians? Take HIST 399: U.S. Cinema (Beda)
“75 years after Pearl Harbor: ‘Real-life heroes’ from Lane County are not forgotten”
Article in the Register-Guard, December 7, 2016 by Rob Romig
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 4 pm — 110 Knight Law Center
The National Committee on US-China Relations presents a national simulcast and live talk.
China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections
Henry A. Kissinger is the national simulcast speaker for the 10th annual China Town Hall. While national security advisor, Kissinger played a crucial role in arranging President Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, which opened the door to the re-establishment of US-China relations. Following Kissinger’s simulcast presentation, Kristen McDonald, China program director of Pacific Environment (PE), will give a live talk on the environmental sharing of planet Earth with China. She leads the efforts of PE, which is focused on protecting the living environment of the Pacific Rim, to address pollution and build strong and effective grassroots environmental organizations in China. McDonald received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and is the founder and former director of the China Rivers Project, which works to expand river ecotourism and conservation in China. China Town Hall is a national day of programming presented by the National Committee on US-China Relations, designed to provide Americans across the US the opportunity to discuss issues with leading experts. For more information, please contact the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at 541-346-5068.
Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Presented with the support of CAPS (Jeremiah/NRC), Academic Affairs, EALL, Asian Studies and Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities.
Films will be introduced by China film curator, Shelly Kraicer.
Thursday, October 20
2:30 pm Female Directors 女导演Directed by Yang Mingming (43 min) Two brilliant young women, art school graduates with deliciously profane vocabularies and supreme confidence, talk sex, cinema, and power, as they wield their shared video camera like a scalpel. Yang Mingming’s superb debut is hilarious, moving, and subversive: is it documentary or fiction, or something new that violates both modes with gleeful abandon?
3:30 pm The Emperor Visits the Hell唐皇游地府Directed by Li Luo (67 min) Winner of Vancouver International Film Festival’s Dragons & Tigers Prize, a quietly astonishing tour de force that hinges on a lovely
conceit: relocating to the present the famous story of the Tang dynasty Emperor Taizong’s visit to the underworld. Shot in elegant, black-and-white long takes, the film spins a tale of the local Dragon King river god. Feuding with a fortune teller, he alters the weather without authorization and is condemned to death. When the Emperor fails to commute the god’s sentence, otherworldly retribution is swift: he is summoned to Hell. Li’s audacious use of multiple levels of storytelling and filmmaking craftily subverts every authority.
7:15-9:00 pm Four Ways to Die in My Hometown我故乡的四种死亡方式 Directed by Chai Chunya (90 mn) A four-part fiction film that’s as much poetry as it is narrative, Chai Chunya’s gorgeous work, evokes four characters – a poet, a searcher, a puppet master, and a shaman – each with intense spiritual links to the land (the film was shot in and around Gansu province) mediated by four elemental symbols: earth, water, fire, and wind. The film’s logic is dreamlike; Chai builds up a series of striking, pictorially spectacular tableaux. Shot in and around Gansu province. Two young women lose a camel, then a father. A retired puppeteer meets a gun-toting tree thief.
Shamans and storytellers evoke a lost spiritual world that Chai films back to life.
Friday, October 21
2pm-3:50pm Egg and Stone鸡蛋和石头, directed by Huang Ji (100 min) Winner, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Tiger Award, Huang Ji’s brave film is one of the most auspicious debuts in recent Chinese cinema. Set in her home village in Hunan, Egg and Stone creates a powerful autobiographical portrait of a young girl’s attempts to grapple with a terrifying world of sexual danger. Since her parents moved to the city to work, she has been forced to live with her uncle and aunt. Huang Ji’s visual sophistication, narrative fluency, and technical polish belie her youth. Cinematographer Ryuji Otsuka (also the film’s producer and editor) contributes beautifully crafted cinematic images, fearfully intimate, softly pulsing with light, saturated with complex emotional power.
4pm-6pm River of Life生命的河流 Directed by Yang Pingdao (101 min) One of China’s most exciting emerging filmmakers, Yang Pingdao’s creative camera brings unexpected beauty. Using innovation to conjure the distinctive texture of family memory through space and time, Yang invents something poised between fiction and documentary to crystallize moments in his family history, recreating its emotional weight and variety in cinematic form. Combining extended family chronicle, implicit national history, and soul-bearing autobiography, Yang employs gentle formal experimentation to invent new cinematic pathways. Opening film and prize winner of BIFF 2014.
Coll Thrush, Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia
“An Evening with Reza Aslan: Religion, Identity, and the Future of America”
Reza Aslan is a best-selling author, public intellectual, scholar of religions, producer, and television host. Through the lens of his own experience—his family fled Iran during the Revolution in 1979 and settled in the U.S. when Reza was seven—and the conflicts he faced as an immigrant growing up, Aslan will examine the crisis of identity that is currently gripping the U.S., and suggest some possible ways in which we should think differently about race, religion, and identity in order to abolish the hatred and discrimination that has led to this crisis. As Aslan points out, America has, from the beginning, been a diverse nation, built on immigration and ethnic diversity.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
156 Straub Hall
Aslan is the author of the international bestsellers No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005), and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (2013).
The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book sale and signing. It will be live-streamed at: ohc.uoregon.edu. Seating is limited to 500; no tickets or reservations. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
For more information or for disability accommodations (which must be made by Oct. 11th) please call (541) 346-3934 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I am working as a legal assistant in a non-profit called Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, TX through Border Servant Corps. I do asylum casework, so I am constantly traveling between the detention center, court, and the office. My favorite thing about my job is that in a way, I get to be a writer, a detective, a researcher, a journalist, and an activist all at once. My experience studying history definitely strengthens my capacities for critical thinking, strategic investigation, and conscientiousness in my tasks. I concentrated on the Latin American region for most of my four years, so the knowledge I gained in college allows me to contextualize the multi-ethnic and globally reaching interactions I have every day and listen to our clients’ narratives with cultural sensitivity. My least favorite thing about my job is having to turn asylum seekers down, since non-profit work entails limited resources, and sadly there are too many people in need. As a result, I have been learning about immigration through a systemic framework, and am consequently learning a lot about politics and policy in conjunction with law.What’s unique about this place is that it is situated right on the Mexican border, so I can see into Ciudad Juarez from Mexico. On my daily bicycle commute, I observe the juxtaposition of developed streets and extensive poverty on either side of the fence, which serves as a regular reminder of the oppression upon which many foundations of Mexican society were built. At the same time, there is a distinct beauty about the fluidity of the two cultures, which borrow from each other, intermingle, and adapt. Fronteriza culture is vivid, poetic, resilient, and enchanting. I am looking forward to allthat I will learn throughout the rest of this service year, and I hope to attend law school in the future.
As a naval intelligence officer in Iraq in 2006, Clair Wiles applied the skills she learned as a history major to discern patterns and understand cultures. The result? “Hundreds of lives saved.”
In 2006 I was recalled to active duty as a Navy intelligence officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad where I served on the briefing team for the Corps and Theater commanders. Our daily battlefield updates were a seeming blur of attacks and at one point I felt like I was doomed to spend a year just reporting how many people were killed in action every day. After a particularly brutal day, I assembled my team and asked them to bring order to the chaos of reporting — to find patterns, to predict attacks, to understand the religious and tribal culture of each area of operations and produce a daily brief that we could share with convoys to prevent attacks. The result? Hundreds of lives saved. Yes, the skills I learned from the University of Oregon History Department literally saved lives.