Department of History

‘History Comes Alive’ at Oakland University

Popular lecture series returns Sept. 17 and will continue through March 18

icon of a calendarSeptember 4, 2019

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‘History Comes Alive’ at Oakland University
History Comes Alive 2019
History Comes Alive returns Sept. 17 and will continue through March 18.

Oakland University’s popular History Comes Alive lecture series, now in its 16th year, will return on Tuesday, Sept. 17 with a special presentation, “Colors of Paradise: Analyzing 18th-Century Slave Societies with 21st Century Technology,” by George Milne, Ph.D., an associate professor of early American history at OU.

“During the first decade of the 1700s, French colonial officials on Île de Bourbon used a then-revolutionary system of data collection: an exhaustive census,” Milne said. “They succeeded in counting every man, woman and child, slave or free, who lived on that small island.

“By employing their 1709 census along with satellite imagery and state-of-the-art computer-assisted mapping, this lecture investigates settlement patterns, wealth accumulation and most important, the strategies by which the enslaved peoples resisted their captors.”

The lecture series, which offers a unique glimpse into the past by highlighting a variety of historic events — some serious, some not so serious — will continue through March 18, 2020.

All lectures will begin at 7 p.m. in Banquet Room A in the Oakland Center.

This year’s topics will also include:

• King Lear and the Disintegration of the WorldTuesday, Oct. 15, 2019: In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, politics and culture no longer provided English society with a sense of order and purpose. Seán Farrell Moran, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at OU, will use William Shakespeare’s King Lear as a window into understanding the history of this century of traumatic change in English culture that resulted in a society that had been cut loose of its historical moorings.

• A Nation of Settlers: American Colonization of the Old NorthwestTuesday, Nov. 12, 2019: Race, indigeneity and the meaning of citizenship were impactful consequences during the expansion of the republic into the Old Northwest. Michael Witgen, Ph.D., director of Native American studies and an associate professor in the departments of history and American culture at the University of Michigan, will present a lecture that will focus on the settlement of Michigan and explore the transformation from a Native homeland into American homesteads.

• From Civil Rights to Civil War: Dr. King, the ANLCA and two “American” Foreign Policies to the Nigeria-Biafra Conflict, 1960-1970Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020: Dr. King’s American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa to end the civil war in Nigeria provided fascinating tactics when United States diplomats realized their efforts would not be successful. Keith Dye, Ph.D., an assistant professor of history and African and African American studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, will examine efforts amid pressures from supporters of both sides to win the assistance of the U.S. government from Presidents Johnson and Nixon.

• A Syrian Intellectual’s Encounter with American White Nationalism in the 1920sTuesday, Feb. 11, 2020: In 1924, the Syrian intellectual and political activist Shakib Arslan published an extended critical commentary on a book by the American racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard. Don Matthews, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at Oakland University, will investigate the lives and ideas of both men to understand transnational debates on race and national identity of the interwar period. Those debates traversed not only the Arab world and the United States, but also France, Great Britain, South Africa and Nazi Germany.

• Racial Integration and the U.S. Army: A Forgotten Chapter in the Struggle for Civil RightsWednesday, March 18, 2020: African Americans have served in the American army since the Revolutionary War, but almost always were seen as second-class soldiers. They were paid less, denied professional advancement and given demeaning duties. Surprisingly, this did not change until the 20th century. Bruce Zellers, a special lecturer of U.S. history, military history and the Korean War at OU, will discuss that change and the surrounding controversy as the U.S. Army became one of the leaders in the broad national process of racial integration.

The History Comes Alive lecture series is made possible by generous contributions from: The Knudsen Family Foundation, The Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, with special thanks to founding sponsors John and Annette Carter.

Admission to each lecture is free, but reservations are requested. To reserve a space, call (248) 370-3511 or email

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