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The Mellema Program: Public Events

Image credit: Edward Curtis, Canon de Chelly-Navaho, Volume 1 - 1907, photogravure

2014-15 Events

Wednesday, February 18
3:30 PM, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Will Katerberg (Calvin College)

In the Presence of Our Enemies: Far Right Anti-Communism and American Political Culture, 1945-1970

This talk will summarize the history of anti-communism from the 1940s to the 1970s, but will focus on the period after McCarthy's fall, when mainstream anti-communism waned, leaving "extremist" groups to keep up the fight. Of the countless individuals and organizations associated with "far right" anti-communism, we'll examine Dan Smoot, the Minute Women of the U.S.A., the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, John Stormer, and the Cardinal Mindzsenty Foundation. Anti-communists like these found themselves labeled “extremist” in the early 1960s just as new forms of radicalism began to emerge in the U.S. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the Black Panthers, SDS, Weather Underground, counterculture, and anti-war movements flourished on the “far Left,” militant anti-communists struggled financially and had to appeal to dwindling numbers of supporters to keep their operations going. But despite their fears that global communism was winning the battle for hearts and minds in America, all was not lost for them.

Will Katerberg is the chair of the history department at Calvin. He is a cultural historian of the U.S. and Canada, with research interests in the North American West, religion and politics, literature and film, comparative history, and social theory. This talk is based on a chapter from the research he did during his 2012 sabbatical. Co-sponsored with the History Department.


October 30 - December 20, 2014

Center Art Gallery, exhibition

"Tracing the Past: Edward Curtis and the North American Indian"

Sponsored by the Mellema Program in Western American Studies & the Office for Multicultural Affairs

From October 30 to December 20, 2014, the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College presents Tracing the Past: Edward Curtis and The North American Indian, and joins in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans during Native American History Month. This exhibition pairs over 40 original photogravures from Edward Curtis’ early 20th century documentary project on The North American Indian, with 24 Native American artifacts from the same era.

Edward Curtis began his project in 1900, originally planning to take five years to complete it. However, due to the complicated nature, growing expense, and immense scope of work, the project took 30 years. During that time he took over 40,000 images and collected ethnographic information from over 80 American Indian tribal groups. Supported by such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan, The North American Indian consisted of 20 volumes, each containing 75 hand-pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio, which contained at least 36 large photogravures. This exhibition contains 40 of these alrge photogravures, representing a wide range of tribes such as Apache, Navaho, Sioux, Hupa, Zuni, Nootka, and Hopi.

The Center Art Gallery is grateful to the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Grand Rapids Public Museumfor loans of the Edward Curtis photogravures and Native American artifacts. This exhibition is co-sponsored with the Center Art Gallery and the Office for Multicultural Affairs. In addition to the ongoing exhibition, a number of special programs will be offered:

William Katerberg & Elizabeth Van Arragon:
“Vanishing Indians? Native Americans and the Documentary Photography of Edward Curtis”

Friday, November 7, 7pm (Covenant Fine Arts Center, Recital Hall) Reception to follow

This lecture will attempt to put in historical context Edward Curtis and the Native American subjects in his photographs. Professors Willam Katerberg and Elizabeth Van Arragon will look at depictions of Native Americans in the 19th and early 20th century and explore the context of documentary/portrait photography at the time.

Film: “Reel Injun” (2009)

Thursday, November 13, 6pm (DeVos Center, Bytwerk Theatre)

“Reel Injun” is a documentary film that explores the many stereotypes about Natives in film, illustrated with excerpts from classic and contemporary portrayals of Native people in Hollywood movies. Film introduction by Willam Katerberg. 

William Wilson:
“The Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange, CIPX”

Friday, November 21, 7pm (Covenant Fine Arts Center, Recital Hall) Reception to follow

Lecture with artist William Wilson, who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation, will present on his work, where he seeks to resume the documentary mission of Curtis from the standpoint of a 21st century indigenous practitioner.

Film: “More Than Frybread” (2011)

Thursday, December 4, 6pm (DeVos Center, Bytwerk Theatre)

A documentary-style film centered on the fictionalized 1st Annual Frybread Championship in the state of Arizona, “More Than Frybread” follows frybread makers from the twenty-two federally recognized tribes in Arizona as they compete for the title. Film introduction with Professor Carl Plantinga.


Recent 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.


Find out more about past events.


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.

Mellema Program
in Western American Studies

History Department
Calvin College
1845 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids, MI

Director: William Katerberg
(616) 526-6047