Dec. 5, 2019: "A Historian's Guide to Saving the Planet:
What the History of Coke Can Teach Us About Curbing Pollution”

Bart Elmore
Associate Professor
Department of History
Ohio State University


April 13, 2017: "Post-Truth" Moments in History

A panel discussion by John Brooke (History), Greg Anderson (History), Melissa Curley (Comparative Studies) and Bert Harrill (History)
Moderated by David Staley (History)
Ohio State University Professors
The Oxford English Dictionary has named “post-truth” the word of 2016. Post-truth is defined as, "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." Our panel looks at different historical contexts/cases where generally accepted “truths” were somehow rendered unimportant, whether deliberately or unintentionally, thereby providing historical context for our more recent “post-truth” moments.



March 9, 2017: Magic and Witchcraft at the Dawn of Modernity: Why Then & What Now?

Matt Goldish
Professor and Samuel M. and Esther Melton Chair in Jewish History, Ohio State University

We may think of magic and witchcraft beliefs as relics of some bygone dark age. In this discussion we will learn that magical ideas flourished with particular success precisely at the dawn of modern times. We will also see that the European and American witch hunts did not occur in the middle ages but precisely during the scientific revolution. Why might that have been the case? And why should we still be paying close attention to occult mentalities in our own time? Presented by Ohio State History Professor Matt Goldish on March 9, 2017 at the Columbus Museum of Art. 


October 13, 2016: Climate Change, the Anthropocene and the Deep History of the Earth

John Brooke
Humanities Distinguished Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Ohio State University

What is the evidence for human-driven climate change in recent history, what is coming to be called the “Anthropocene”? How does this evidence compare with what we know about climate in the past, both in the more familiar epoch of human history proper, but also in prehistory, and the deep, geological history of the earth? John Brooke provides a layman’s overview, and briefly comments on the way forward for humanity.

September 22, 2016: American Ways. An Overview of Four Centuries of Consistent National Behavior.

Steve Millett, Ph.D.

The American people have displayed consistent patterns of behavior for more than 400 years. They have placed great value on individual merits, rights, and interests. The driving force of most Americans has been the sustained optimism of the “American Dream,” the ideal that the future will be better than the past in material and emotional terms. Americans have showed a remarkable ability to combine lofty ideals with self-interests.  In addition, they have also emphasized the importance of strong communities, especially when communities defend and support individuals. They have always placed a particular emphasis on processes, and they have had to learn to accommodate each other and resolve their conflicts without resorting to violence. The U.S. Constitution is the ultimate process, and it has failed only once: the Civil War. Looking toward the future, the success of American optimism and the management of fear rests upon the pursuit of opportunities as presented in five likely scenarios to 2050.

April 18, 2016: The History of "Radical" Movements in Islam

Jane Hathaway
Professor of History, The Ohio State University

This talk addressed the historical origins of key “radical” — or, more appropriately, puritanical or revivalist — movements in Sunni Islam. The focus was on two main strands of Sunni revivalism: Wahhabism, which originated in the mid-18th century, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in the early 20th century. Both these tendencies seek to root out innovations to the practice of the original Muslim community in the 7th century, but what they regard as innovations and the ways in which they attempt to eradicate them vary widely. Discussion included a number of groups and movements that have been in the news in recent years, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.

March 22, 2016: How the History of Poindexter Village Challenges Popular Stereotypes about Public Housing

Patrick Potyondy
PhD Candidate, The Ohio State University

A surprising array of critics from both the political left and right agree that public housing as built has next to no redeeming features. These places are written off as havens of crime and poverty. But this is false. Like communities across the United States, the history of Columbus, Ohio’s first and all-black public housing development Poindexter Village reveals a strikingly different story. On the city’s Near East Side, African-Americans formed a neighborhood in the face of segregation, built housing, created a vibrant and supportive community, and even challenged the popular notion of historic preservation.

January 25, 2016: Making Sense of the Madness: Race, Racism, and Politics in the Age of Obama

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Associate Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University

Presented to the Clio Society Jan. 25, 2016 at Whetstone Library in Columbus, Ohio.

December 10, 2015: "I had the Best Childhood": Growing up in Ohio Orphanages in the 20th Century

Birgitte Søland
Associate Professor, Department of History

Presented by Assoc. Professor Birgitte Søland, Department of History at The Ohio State University. In the course of the twentieth century hundreds of thousands of American children spent part of their childhood in orphanages or children’s homes across the country. Modern understandings of life in such institutions are typically negative, associating orphanage life with the hardships encountered by fictional characters such as Oliver Twist and Orphan Annie. Surely, growing up outside the family was associated with trauma for many children, but the reality of orphanage life was often more complex. Based on 200 oral history interviews, this talk explores the experiences of more than 200 individuals who grew up in Ohio orphanages between 1920 and 1995. How do these former orphanage children recall their childhood? What is it like to come of age in an institution? Surprisingly, many of these individuals had very fond memories of their early lives, sometimes claiming that their childhoods had been close to ideal. Why did they think so? And what can we learn from their experiences that might influence present-day child welfare policies?

October 26, 2015: Devouring the Earth: How British Food Changed the World

Christopher Otter
Associate Professor

Between 1750 and 1900, the  British diet underwent significant change, becoming much richer in meat, wheat, and sugar. This talk explores a series of significant consequences of this dietary transition, including the transformation of agrarian ecologies across the globe, and the accelerated, human-driven evolution of cattle, pigs, wheat and sugar. At a national scale, this recognizably “British” diet, albeit one with regional peculiarities, provided the calorie flows necessary for the domestic labor force to power the industrial revolution. While calorie levels rose on the British mainland, there were also a growing list of dietary pathologies, from constipation, food allergy, diverticulitis and tooth decay to anorexia nervosa and obesity. Our contemporary food crises — including world hunger, the diabetes epidemic and the limits of human global carrying capacity — has a much deeper history.

April 30, 2015: Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road

Scott Levi
Associate Professor

More than a century ago, Russian Orientalists advanced a number of erroneous assumptions about Central Asian history that even today remain embedded within the “Silk Road” paradigm. This presentation illustrates how this received wisdom continues to shape our understanding of early modern Central Asian history, and how recent work in Indian history demonstrates the need to rethink these longstanding ideas and approach historical work on the Silk Road with a more critical perspective. The presentation draws on Scott Levi’s more than fifteen years of work on the subject, which has culminated in the recent publication his new book, Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road (Penguin, 2015).

April 10, 2015: Russia and the Race for the Arctic

Professor Nick Breyfogle

Global climate variations have caused unprecedented changes to the Arctic environment, especially a rapid decrease in the summer sea ice sheet. While perilous to the survival of the iconic polar bear, many humans are watching these changes with an eye to what riches an open Arctic Ocean might bring forth: in oil and gas, mining, and open-water transportation. Five countries can lay claim to the potential wealth of the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States. But it is Russia and Canada in particular that have jumped out to the early lead in this new race for the Arctic. In this talk, Ohio State University History Professor Nicholas Breyfogle explores Russia's long history in the Arctic and the roots of its current assertive policies in the region.

October 28, 2014: "Is Google 'Making us Stupid?'" A Deep History and Future of the Internet

David Staley
Associate Professor

In a 2008 article in The Atlantic, Nick Carr famously asked “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”  and wondered specifically what deleterious effects the Internet is having on our brains.  Carr argued that the Internet is making us incapable of sustaining the attention necessary to read long-form articles and books.  He also points to evidence which suggests that using the Internet is rewiring our brains.

David Staley’s answer to Carr’s question is “no.”  When we place the development of the Internet in a long-term historical context, we see that what the Internet is “doing to our brains” is similar to the effects that other cognitive technologies—like art or writing—have had.  Professor Staley will evoke this deeper history, and suggest possible futures for the brain-Internet interface.

November 2, 2013: Was the Qing Dynasty "China"?

Ying Zhang
Assistant Professor

Ying Zhang, assistant professor of Chinese history, will discuss one of the most hotly debated topics among historians: whether the last dynasty, the Qing Empire (1644-1911), was "China."

Was a dynasty ruled by non-Chinese emperors a “Chinese” empire? Is it true, suggested recently inThe Wall Street Journal, that our historical understanding of the Qing dynasty has been a purely nationalistic construction by the People’s Republic of China with fictive narratives of political and geographical continuity of a Chinese empire? How do scholars and ordinary Chinese react to this approach to the history of the Qing and should such a scholarly argument be interpreted politically?

January 26, 2013: U.S.-Iraqi Relations in Historical Perspective

Peter Hahn
Professor and Chair of History

Twice since 1990, the United States initiated military action against Iraq, most recently in an invasion in 2003 that resulted in a prolonged, difficult, and costly U.S. occupation of the country. Sharing the insights of his recent book, Missions Accomplished?: The United States and Iraq since World War I (Oxford University Press, 2011), Peter Hahn will discuss the long-term development of U.S. policy toward Iraq, identify problems and challenges that the United States encountered, assess the wisdom and effectiveness of U.S. military operations, and evaluate the complex challenges currently facing the United States in Iraq.Twice since 1990, the United States initiated military action against Iraq, most recently in an invasion in 2003 that resulted in a prolonged, difficult, and costly U.S. occupation of the country. Sharing the insights of his recent book, Missions Accomplished?: The United States and Iraq since World War I (Oxford University Press, 2011), Peter Hahn will discuss the long-term development of U.S. policy toward Iraq, identify problems and challenges that the United States encountered, assess the wisdom and effectiveness of U.S. military operations, and evaluate the complex challenges currently facing the United States in Iraq.

September 16, 2011: Aristocratic Values in Republican Rome

Nathan Rosenstein
Professor of History

Many people have evoked — but have not always fully understood — the Republican values of ancient Rome, the Founding Fathers of our own republic among them. Professor Nathan Rosenstein will discuss these republican values as seen by the Romans themselves, and will consider the long-term strengths and weaknesses of those values.

May 20, 2011: The Democracy That Broke: The Continuing Relevance of the Civil War

Mark Grimsley
Associate Professor

Extremism in American political life led to the extreme actions that caused the Civil War. The Civil War challenged the idea that America was an “unbreakable union,” as that union was torn asunder. Could the extremism that seems to characterize our politics today similarly tear our union asunder? During this, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Professor Mark Grimsley reflects upon the War’s continuing significance in American political life.