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News & Events: Colloquia & Events

Fall 2015 Events

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Wednesday, September 23

3:30 pm, Alumni Board Room (Commons Annex)

"Border of Lights: Remembering the 1937 Haitian Massacre"

Edward Paulino (John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY)

In 1937, the Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, ordered the slaughter of as many as 20,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in an ethnic cleansing on the Dominican-Haitian border. Border of Lights invites artists, activists, teachers, students, parents, and clergy to gather together to honor a tragedy long forgotten in the annals of 20th century genocidal history and unknown to many people.

Edward Paulino will discuss the 1937 massacre and the efforts by Border of Lights to commemorate, collaborate, and continue the legacy of hope and justice. Paulino is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His research interests include race; genocide; borders; nation-building; Latin America and the Caribbean; the African Diaspora; and New York State history.

This event is co-sponsored by AADS, French, History, Spanish, and ISDC in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.


Wednesday, October 21

3:30 pm, Alumni Board Room (Commons Annex)

"A Matter of Approach: The Making of New Netherland's History"

Nicholas Cunigan and Stephen Staggs (Calvin History Department)

Stephen Staggs completed his doctoral thesis on Native-Dutch relations in New Netherland. Nicholas Cunigan is completing his thesis on extreme weather and indigenous resistance in the Dutch Atlantic. Both are examining the relationship between Dutch colonists and indigenous peoples in New Netherland, but both utilize different historiographical approaches. Join us to hear more about their individual research, how the topics overlap, and how their differing approaches can offer new insight into the history of New Netherland.

Nicholas Cunigan and Stephen Staggs teach in the Calvin History Department.

Co-sponsored by the Frederik Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture.


Wednesday, November 11

3:30 pm, Chapel Undercroft

"Purity, Patriarchy, and the First Wave of Christian Anti-Trafficking Activism"

Kristin Du Mez (Calvin History Department)

In recent years, churches and religious nonprofits have awakened to the plight of women and children caught up in human trafficking. But Christian anti-trafficking activism goes back nearly 150 years. This talk will explore the first wave of Christian anti-trafficking activism, and the way in which women like Katharine Bushnell, a leading anti-trafficking activist, understood that Christian theology itself needed to be reformed in order to provide the basis for true emancipation. And it will consider how lessons from the past might help the church refine its approach to global anti-trafficking efforts today.

Calvin history professor, Kristin Kobes Du Mez will speak from her recent book, A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism (OUP, 2015).

This event is co-sponsored by the Sexuality Series, History, and Gender Studies.


Thursday, November 12

3:30 pm, CFAC Auditorium

Organ Performance by Ulbe Tjallingii

with Frans van Liere (Calvin History Department)

Ulbe Tjallingii is a guest performer for the Bach Chorale of Grand Rapids. He will perform an organ recital, featuring some old and new Dutch organ music. Mr. Tjallingii will be joined by  Prof. Frans van Liere (History Department) on the flute.

Mr. Tjallingii received his Master’s degree in theology and liturgy from the University of Groningen, and has since worked as pastor and chaplain in the protestant church of the Netherlands. Mr Tjallingii has played the organ since he was a teenager, and, since 2002, he has made a name for himself as organist, church music director and choir director.

On Sunday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Central Reformed Church Mr. Tjallingii will perform with the Bach Chorale of Grand Rapids, in a program of baroque and classical music for organ and choir.


Thursday, December 3

3:30-6 pm, Chapel

ISIS, Terrorism & Refugees: A Teach In

Our hearts break with news of massacres in Paris and Beirut. We are inundated with stories of terror, violence, and hatred around the world. Refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries are desperate to find safe haven, while America and other nations struggle with how to respond. What's happening and how did we get here? And what can we do about it? We invite you to join us for a "teach in" -- a time of teaching, learning, and discussion.

Calvin faculty will give brief talks offering their expertise in response to the recent terrorist attacks, the threat of ISIS, and the refugee crisis. They will then form a panel to take questions and lead a discussion. Calvin students, faculty, staff and the wider community are invited to attend. This is a "teach in" rather than a formal lecture; attendees may come and go as they are able, and are warmly invited to ask questions and raise their concerns.

Topics include:

  • Bert de Vries (History & Archaeology): The Refugee Crisis in the Middle East
  • Doug Howard (History): ISIS and Regional Politics
  • Jason VanHorn (Geography): Mapping Terrorism
  • Frans van Liere (History & Medieval Studies): Is Islam a Violent Religion?
  • Joel Westra (Political Science): The Strategy of Terrorism

Sponsored by History, Medieval Studies, and the Middle East Club. View the event and share it on Facebook.


Wednesday, December 9

3:30 pm, History Department Lounge (HH 495)

History Department Christmas Party

Join us in celebrating Christmas and the end of the semester with a festive party featuring food, games, and a time to relax and socialize before exams. Details to follow, but expect a return of the traditional gingerbread cookie decorating.


Past Events: Spring 2015

Wednesday, January 21
9:00 am, Hiemenga Hall

What Can I Do With A History Major?
Resume & Cover Letter Workshop

A history major teaches you more than just names and dates. Studying history builds skills in research, writing, critical thinking, information analysis and cultural intelligence. But how do you translate those skills into the work world?

Join us for this resume and cover letter workshop, where you will learn how to market yourself and the skills you've learned while studying history. Staff from the career development office will give advice on resumes and cover letters specifically for history majors and minors.

This 1 hour workshop will take place as part of Professor Kate van Liere's HIST 294 course, but all history majors and minors, and prospective history majors and minors, are warmly invited to attend. You do not need to have a resume with you to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

Co-sponsored with the Career Development.


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 by the Mellema Program in Western American Studies.


Tuesday, March 24
4:00 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Bert de Vries (Calvin College):
ISIS in Context: Playing the God Card in Salafist Warfare

The presentation will explain where this movement fits in the politics of the Middle East and the globe, why it seems successful beyond the capacity of its meager arsenal, why and how it will fail, and why it was not absurd for President Obama to compare ISIS atrocities to the historic record of similar atrocities by Christian extremists. The talk will end with Professor de Vries's personal response as a Christian regularly living among and working with Muslims in the Middle East.

Bert de Vries is director of the Umm el-Jimal Project and professor emeritus of the History Department. He continues to administer and teach the Archaeology Minor Program at Calvin.

Sponsored by the Calvin College Middle East Club.


Wednesday, March 25
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Jeanne Petit (Hope College):
"A Fine Spirit of Cooperation": Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and the 1918 United War Work Campaign

In the fall of 1918, the Young Men's Christian Association, the National Catholic War Council, and the Jewish Welfare Board banded together to raise over two hundred million dollars to do service work with U.S. soldiers. This drive became known as the United War Work Campaign. President Wilson publicly praised their "fine spirit of cooperation," but behind the scenes, these organizations clashed with each other. They also dealt with internal conflict as they tried to balance interfaith cooperation with their own religious missions. This talk will examine how Protestants, Catholics, and Jews of the World War I era struggled to work together and come to terms with the growing religious diversity of modern America.

Jeanne Petit is a professor of history at Hope College. Her research focuses on gender and immigration in United States history.


Wednesday, April 15
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Bert de Vries (Calvin College)
Preservation and Community Engagement at Umm el-Jimal, Jordan in 2014-15

This presentation is a progress report on the preservation and field work at Umm el-Jimal, Jordan done in 2014. The overriding theoretical approach of this work is the creation of conditions in which a thriving, financially autonomous “community heritage economy” can function. Activities included final work on House XVII-XVIII Complex, including post-preservation excavation with the field school of Calvin students in May-June 2014. A new project, “Preservation and Reactivation of Umm el-Jimal’s Ancient Surface Collection Water System,” aims to design a system to distribute the water from the ancient reservoirs to the modern community in conformity with the strictures of international conservation standards. And in September and October 2014, Sally and Bert de Vries took part in the implementation of a UNESCO-funded Empowering Rural Women Project, teaching local women a combination of their own and their archaeological heritage as an educational base for employment in the “community heritage economy", ranging from traditional craft production to local tourism services.

In 2015, new grants will enable excavation, preservation and presentation of the famous second century AD Gate of Commodus with the main goal of opening up the archaeological site to the community. This project will be the occasion for the Archaeology Field School for Calvin students in May-June 2015, and for the training of local women and men in archaeology site management and community tour guiding in cooperation with UNESCO. 

Bert de Vries is director of the Umm el-Jimal Project and professor emeritus of the History Department. He continues to administer and teach the Archaeology Minor Program at Calvin.


Monday, May 4
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Book Reception for Kristin Du Mez

Join us as we celebrate the book release of A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism, by Calvin history professor Kristin Du Mez.

This event also includes the End of the Year Party for the Gender Studies program, including announcement of the winners of the Gender Studies Writing Contest. All are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served.

Co-sponsored with Gender Studies.


Wednesday, May 6
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

Honors Student Presentations

Students graduating with honors in history will present their senior honors theses. Please join us in celebrating their achievements by hearing their research:

Josh Ferguson, "Swerving on the S-Curve: A History of the Development of US-131 and its Impact on Grand Rapids, MI"
Since its origins as a Native American trail, the route that US-131 now occupies has been an ever changing, yet constant presence in the city of Grand Rapids. The development of the highway serves as a lens for better understanding the transformations Grand Rapids has undergone throughout its history, especially during the past half century since the route was converted to an elevated expressway. The construction and changes to the highway have been critical in shaping the economic, social, and racial landscape of the city and its future will undoubtedly play a major role in the growth and progress of Grand Rapids. Advisor: Kristin Du Mez.

Jonathan Hielkema, "The Fixer: W. Morgan Shuster and American-Iranian Relations"
On Christmas Day, 1910, the US State Department received an unusual request from the constitutional government in Iran: send impartial experts to repair the country's financial system. Several months later, lawyer and former imperial administrator W. Morgan Shuster arrived in Tehran in the midst of a revolution, attempting to balance the requirements of his job with the demands of the British and Russians, who had divided Iran between themselves a few years earlier. Though his mission ultimately failed and contributed to the end of the revolution, he left a remarkably positive impression among Iranians, one that would tragically transform into harsh disappointment later in the century. This talk will examine the diplomatic and press discussions of W. Morgan Shuster, examining how the various powers-that-be viewed his financial mission and how this relates to the ideology of humanitarian interventions and diplomatic wrangling that continue to dominate talk about American-Middle Eastern relations to this day. Advisor: Doug Howard.

Daniel Paulson, "Hold the Fort: A Historical, Intellectual, and Cultural Analysis of the King James Only Movement"
Many Christians use and cherish the King James Version of the Bible, but one group takes that adoration to new heights. Adherents of the King James Only movement believe that God specially inspired the King James Version and that all modern Bible translations are corrupt. This group is not a strange outgrowth of Christian fundamentalism; rather, it taps into a number of longstanding ideas and practices in American Christianity. A study of the history, ideas, and culture of the King James Only movement reveals that their basic premises are surprisingly similar to many American Christians. Advisor: Jim Bratt.


Thursday, May 7
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

African & African Diaspora Studies Student Presentations

Join us for two presentations by students presenting their research:

India Daniels, "The Evolution of Liberian Identity"
This talk explores the 19th-century origins of Liberia as a colony for freed African-American slaves. If the blacks were God’s people enslaved in a foreign land, many whites (and significantly few blacks) saw colonization as their mode of exodus and Liberia as their land of milk and honey. India Daniels will discuss why this venture was supported or opposed by abolitionists, slaveholders, slaves, and freedmen and the early struggles of life in the “Promised Land.”

Josephine Tucker, "The History of Female Genital Mutilation" ("L'Histoire Mutilation de Génitale Femmes")
Female genital mutilation (FGM) originated in Africa. It was, and remains, a cultural rather than religious practice. Also known as female circumcision, FGM is performed on young women before they reach puberty. Josephine Tucker will talk about the three types of FGM practiced in Africa and beyond, and she will go on to discuss the consequences of FGM and laws passed by many countries to ban the practice.

Co-sponsored with African & African Diaspora Studies.


Wednesday, May 15
3:30 pm, Meeter Center Lecture Hall

End of Year Awards and Party

Join us for a time to celebrate. Awards will be presented to scholarship winners. Some of the scholarship donors will be in attendance, so scholorship winners are strongly encouraged to be there.

After the awards, we'll enjoy games and food, including an ice cream sundae bar.

Find out more about past events, including recordings and .PDFs of some presentations.

Join us on Wednesdays

History lectures are usually on third Wednesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. in the Meeter Center lecture hall, unless noted at left.

The final colloquium of the year is a special presentation by our graduating Honors students, who present the results of their year-long thesis research.

History colloquia are open to the Calvin community—
students, alumni, faculty, and friends—and all are encouraged to attend.

The Meeter Center lecture hall is on the third floor of Hekman Library, off the library lobby.

Come early to enjoy refreshments and conversation and to get a good seat.