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The Mellema Program: Public Events

Past Events

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Larry Eskridge (Wheaton College)

"'Jesus Knocked Me Off My Metaphysical Ass': LSD, Counterculture, and the Origins of the Jesus People Movement in the Summer of Love"

The Jesus People movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, with its sunny images of beach baptisms and well-scrubbed, "One Way" button-wearing youth, had a tremendous impact upon the evangelical subculture's relationship to youth and popular culture. The movement paved the way for the spread of the come-as-you-are, "seeker-friendly" megachurch model that dominated the 1980s and beyond. This lecture will explore the less well-known origins of the Jesus Movement in the heart of San Francisco's Haigh-Ashbury amid the promise and squalor of 1967's "Summer of Love," and the unlikely combination of hip and square that triggered a "Jesus Revolution."

Larry Eskridge is the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (ISAE). He has been with the ISAE since 1988 and served as adjunct faculty in the history department at Wheaton College since 1992. He is the author of a book on the Jesus People movement of the 1960s and 1970s, God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Oxford University Press, 2013), which won Christianity Today's "Book of the Year" award and took the top spot in the history/biography category. Cosponsored by the Mellema Program and the History Department.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013:

Robert Schoone-Jongen (Calvin College)

"Immigrants in No-Man's Land: Two Tales of Land Deals, Waterproofing, Big Pots, and the Great War"

Theodore F. Koch and his erstwhile partner, Nicolaus Jungeblut, both came to the United States during the great Minnesota land boom of the 1880s. They fared well financially and became naturalized American citizens, but they remained deeply connected, both socially and economically, to German financiers. When the United States entered the First World War in 1917, Jungeblut found himself trapped in Germany, while Koch rode out the war years in Texas. Both of them had their assets confiscated by their adopted country. both were twice cursed--as traders with the enemy and as immigrants married to German wives. Their stories spotlight the shadowy transfer of wealth the Great War precipitated, economic scars that never healed, and the chasm between idealistic wartime rhetoric and the thievery it cloaked.

Professor Robert Schoone-Jongen was on sabbatical in the fall of 2012 and spent the time researching and writing a biography of Theodore Koch. He visited archives in the Netherlands, Germany, Texas, Illinois, and Minnesota and traveled to Koch's European homes and the sites of his American colonies. Find out more about Robert Schoone-Jongen and his work here. Co-sponsored by the history department.


Monday, March 11, 2013: Jane Stadler (University of Queensland)

"Landscape and the Western Genre in Australian Cinema"

Jane Stadler is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland. Her recent research focuses on landscape in Australian cinema, and she is chief investigator for the Cultural Atlas of Australia, a federally funded research project that maps the locations of Australian films, novels, and plays. She is author of Pulling Focus: Intersubjective Experience, Narrative Film and Ethics (2008), co-author of Screen Media (2009) and Media and Society (2012), and co-editor of an adaptation studies anthology, Pockets of Change: Adaptation and Cultural Transition (2011). Co-sponsored by the CAS Department and the Calvin Film Forum.


Friday, April 5, 2013: P.J. Hill

“Geography Colloquium: The Not So Wild, Wild West"

As part of Calvin's Geography Colloquium, P.J. Hill will discuss his book The Not So Wild, Wild West, written with Terry Anderson, which challenges many traditional theories of how the West was settled. Dr. Hill, professor emeritus of economics at Wheaton College in Illinois, holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago, and his undergraduate degree is in Agricultural Economy from Montana State University. He is an economic historian by training and has written on institutional change and the evolution of property rights. He is currently a senior fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana. Read more about Dr. Hill and his lectures and research. Co-sponsored by the Geography Department and the Henry Institute.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012: William Katerberg

"Other Manifest Destinies: Globalizing American Creation Stories"

American "creation stories" emphasize our nation's "manifest destiny." For example, myths about the U.S. frontier depict settlers migrating into the wilderness, with ingenuity and courage adapting to new circumstances and building new lives, thus generating the unique American character and freedom. But what about he Native Americans and Mexicans already living in the land? And how did U.S. frontiers compare to those in Canada, Argentina, south Africa, Australia, and more? These issues are not only historical, but ethical. What does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves when it comes to historic national identities? Answering these questions won't end angry debates in the U.S. over legal and illegal immigration. But it might reorient how we as Americans think about ourselves and others in these debates. Co-sponsored by the Calvin College History Department.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012: William Van Vugt

“British Isles Music on the American Frontier - Some Early Explorations"

During the 18th century, many of thousands of people left England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland for the North American frontier, and they brought along their culture, including their music. On the frontier their culture adapted to the new American environment. This colloquium presents music from the British Isles and demonstrates how the melodies, keys, and lyrics were affected by life on the American frontier. The music will be presented on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, with Bruce Ling of Hawks and Owls String Band. Co-sponsored by the Calvin College History Department.


March 7, 2012: Dr. Carol L. Higham (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

“Seeing Cannibals: Spanish and British Accounts of Cannibalism in Nootka Sound, 1770-1795”

Historians and anthropologists have debated the existence of cannibalism among the Native peoples of North America, but none have examined this case, where two different European groups visited the supposedly cannibalistic peoples of Nootka Sound at roughly the same time. The Spanish applied their long history of interaction with the indigenous peoples of Mexico and California while the English overlaid their recent experience with the peoples of the South Pacific.

This lecture compares Spanish and British accounts of the Nootka between 1778 and 1784, revealing a significant shift in European thinking about human progress, one influenced by the goals of the two empires. The Spanish placed the Nootkans within their ethnographic knowledge of their empire, while the British attempt to answer questions about the origin of the human condition while furthering their commercial progress.

The Spanish did not see cannibals because that would have implied their lack of control over a commercial area they had considered theirs for several hundred years. The British categorized the Nootkans by their level of “civilization” in comparison to the peoples of the South Pacific. They use cannibalism to demonstrate the power and wealth of the Nootka and justify the intervention of the British empire. Co-sponsored by the Mellema Program and Calvin College History Department.


March 30, 2011: Ralph Stearley

Where Have All the Fishes Gone? LONG Time Passing…

Seven hundred of species and sub-species of freshwater and migratory fish in North America are imperiled today by modern agricultural practices, development, damming,  and over-harvesting, according to the American Fisheries Institute, up from 360 just 20 years ago. More  than 60 are extinct.

This talk will examine major discoveries of fossil fishes in the North American West and their relevance to understanding the impact of modern ecological changes made by humans. Starting with the major post-Civil War western geological exploration surveys, paleontologists have been piecing together the past 50 million years of history of western fishes through fossils preserved in ancient lake beds. Can the studying the distribution and paleo-ecologies of ancient fishes help us to interpret patterns in the biogeography of the modern fauna and salvage our current western fish biodiversity? We will focus on fossil and recent salmonids—trout, char and salmon—and strange ancient fish such as the “sabre-toothed salmon.” These fishes evolved in tandem with tectonics, topography, climate, and the Pacific Ocean. What can we learn and perhaps predict as humanity changes these factors?

Co-sponsored by the Mellema Program and Calvin College History and Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies Departments.


February 16, 2011: Perry Eaton

Transformation Tools: Alutiiq Masks of Kodiak Island

One of the most well-known and knowledgeable Alutiiq mask carvers in Alaska gave a lecture on the history of masks and the reclamation process of the Alutiiq mask making tradition. Find more information about this talk. And find out more about Perry Eaton.


April 14, 2010: William Katerberg

Extremism is No Vice:  The Mainstream Roots of Radicalism in the American West Since 1920

Prof. Katerberg will examine social and political extremism, or radicalism, on the Right and Left in the American West since 1920, focusing on the period since World War II. "By radicalism I mean ideological and cultural critiques of American institutions and visions of alternative institutions. By extremism I mean modes of political organization and efforts to promote radical change that reject mainstream institutions and contemplate, advocate, or actually use violence." Examples from the Right include the KKK, fascists, the militia movement, and white supremacist groups; those on the Left include the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Weather Underground, and Earth First! The focus of analysis will be on how radicals and extremists appeal to the deep roots of American political culture, and where they depart from it.  "I define those roots as republican ideology, Protestant apocalypticism, fear of conspiracies and moral corruption, racialism, and ideals of masculine honor."

Will Katerberg is a Calvin History Professor and Director of the Mellema Program in Western American Studies. Co-sponsored the History Department. Read more on Calvin News and Stories.


April 15-17, 2010

The Mellema Program co-sponsored the participation of Brady Udall in the Festival of Faith & Writing.

Brady Udall grew up in northeastern Arizona. A graduate of Brigham Young University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Udall has published a story collection, Letting Loose the Hounds, and a novel, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, which won many awards and has been translated into eighteen languages. Udall currently teaches writing at Boise State University.

Jamie Skillen

September 25, 2009, Professor Skillen of Geography and Environmental Studies at Calvin College presented "The Gift of Good Land: Ecosystem Management and the Crisis of Scientific and Political Authority"

Patricia O'Connell Killen

November 16, 2009, Professor Killen of Religion, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA presented "Backwater, Bellwether, Barometer? — Personal Spirituality, Organized Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest"

What are the consequences for faith communities and public life in a region where most people pursue their spiritual journeys outside the doors of church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, and always have? How do faith communities sustain themselves, relate to their theological heritages, and bring their moral visions to bear on public issues when, together, they make up a minority of the population? What constitutes public presence in a region where adults who no longer identify with any religious tradition make up a group twice the size of the largest Christian denomination? This is the Pacific Northwest, a region where history, demographics, and geography have generated a distinctive individual and institutional religious ethos. This talk explores the challenges and opportunities that the Pacific Northwest’s religious characteristics have presented to faith communities and considers what the region’s religious style might portend for religion in the U.S. into the mid-21st century.

Co-sponsored by the the Byker Chair, the Henry Institute, and the History department.

Being Caribou

In February 2009, the Canadian wildlife biologist and park warden Karsten Heuer showed his documentary film Being Caribou and gave a being caribou film coverlecture on his work on wildlife preservation. In 1998 and 1999, Heuer walked and skied from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to Canada's Yukon Territory to publicize a proposal for a 1,900 mile long system of wildlife corridors and reserves (the Y2Y Initiative).

In 2003, he and Leanne Allison spent several months following the Porcupine caribou herd from the Yukon to their endangered calving grounds in the disputed ANWR region of Alaska. This became the basis for a book and film, Being Caribou. Heuer gave a lecture entitled “Necessary Journeys: What is Wilderness and Why Should We Care?” The lecture was co-sponsored by the Mellema Program, C.E.A.P., the Biology department, and the Philosophy department.

God's Country

In April 2009, Darren Dochuk, an assistant professor of history at Purdue University, gave a lecture entitled, “God's Country: The Conservative Politics of Faith, Place, and Region in the Twentieth-Century American West.” The event was co-sponsored by the History department and the Mellema program.

The Burning Season

In February 2008, the Mellema Program helped organize an event for the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning. Biology professor Randy Van Dragt spoke in the Noontime series on “The Burning Season: How Wildfire Shaped the American Landscape.”

Andrew dancingFinding Their Own Dance

In April 2008, co-sponsored with the HPERDS department, professor Ellen Van’t Hof presented her documentary film, Finding Their Own Dance: Reawakening the Alaskan Alutiiq Arts, for which she had received Mellema Program funding. The film was produced by Rob Prince, who teaches in the Communication Arts and Sciences program.

The Mellema Program and the Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies (GGES) department co-sponsored a public lecture in April 2008 entitled “Who Owns the West?” by Jamie Skillen, now a professor in the GGES department. The lecture examined conflicts over property rights in the West in the twentieth century.


February 2007: “Opus Cactus.” This performance by the dance-illusionist troupe MOMIX, co-sponsored with the Artists Series, celebrated the beauty of the Sonoran desert in Arizona with light and music, classical dance, gymnastics, and ballet. MOMIX has performed around the world.


March 2007: “Cybernetic Frontiers, Ecotopias, and Visions of Apocalypse: The American West in Science Fiction and Film,” a public lecture by William Katerberg.


February and March 2006: “Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935-1943,” a co-sponsored exhibit incorporated significant coverage of the American West and related events at the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College. It included a screening of the classic film The Grapes of Wrath and a lecture by Colleen McDannell of the University of Utah.


Spring 2006: Series of two public lectures on Mexican and Mexican-American laborers in California—“Cesar Chavez’s Protestant Allies: The California Migrant Ministry and the Farm Worker’s Movement, 1962-1975” by Ron Wells of the Calvin History Department and “Negotiating Work and Family in California’s Imperial Valley: Listening to the Voices of Mexican American Women” by Barbara Wells of the Sociology Department at Maryville College in Tennessee.


Spring 2005: Slide based lecture “Wild West, Lost West: The Art of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell” by art historian Brian Dippie of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.


September 2004: Two-day residency by Ensemble Español, including “Tales of Spain,” a program for children from undeserved areas or in Spanish immersion programs; “Spain in America” for an audience of 697 (one-fourth students); educational activities for Calvin students; and workshops on Flamenco and folkloric dance.


February 2004: In connection with Black History Month, the Mellema Program and Multicultural Affairs sponsored a lecture and historical reenactment by John Bell on the Buffalo Soldiers—African American cavalry and infantry units that served in the American West from the 1860s to the 1940s.


October 2003: “The View from the Big House: Nuns and Prisoners in the American West,” a public lecture by Anne Butler of the history department of Utah State University and editor of the Western Historical Quarterly

Go Deeper

Our programs and centers enable students to minor in diverse areas including Archaeology, African Studies, Asian Studies, Gender Studies, Latin American Studies, Medieval Studies, and International Development.

Calvin also hosts the H. Henry Meeter Center, North America’s premier research collection devoted to the writings of John Calvin and early Calvinists; the Colonial Origins Collection, a rich store of materials pertaining to Dutch emigration, the Christian Reformed Church, and related institutions; and the new Mellema Program in Western American Studies for studies in the American and Canadian West.