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KU experts can provide insight on 100th anniversary of WWI

Thursday, March 27, 2014

LAWRENCE – June 28, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event that ignited World War I and went on to shape the 20th century. From World War I-era art to letters written in the trenches, the University of Kansas has resources that shed light on the war and its lingering influence. KU experts can speak to the lesser-studied Eastern Front, surveillance during the war, art and culture from 1914 to 1918, and the contributions that KU and Kansas made to the war effort. To showcase these resources and faculty experts, the university will host programs, conferences and other educational opportunities as part of the four-year World War I Centennial Commemoration.

The following KU faculty and staff are available to provide commentary on World War I and its legacy:

Stephen Goddard, senior curator for prints and drawings at the Spencer Museum of Art, has spent a decade acquiring art from the World War I era. Looking for art that went beyond wartime propaganda, Goddard has collected several thousand works for the museum. Prominent in the collection are the etchings of Henry de Groux, a Belgian-born artist whose work during the era vilified the act of war, but not its soldiers. In 2010, Goddard curated “Machine in a Void: World War I & the Graphic Arts,” which featured about 200 works. The museum is currently showing a portion of that collection in “Conversations XVIII: World War I."

Nathan Wood, associate professor of history, has studied modernity in Eastern Europe from the 1880s to the 1930s, examining how technology changed perception of space and time. He can speak to art, technology and culture during the wartime era. He also has researched the experiences of ordinary citizens along the Eastern Front, which was a much different war than the more commonly discussed Western Front. Currently Wood is working on a book that examines the attitudes in Poland toward bicycles, automobiles and airplanes from their introduction until World War II.

Erik Scott, assistant professor of history, is an expert on empire, migration and diaspora in 20th century Russia and Eurasia. He can speak about the Eastern Front in Russia and the Caucasus, the displacement of ethnic populations that resulted from the war, and the creation of nation-states that followed it.

“War World I shaped the course of the entire 20th century. It set up all the issues that came to the forefront in World War II and helped launch the revolution in Russia, which in the second half of the 20th century led to the Cold War,” Scott said.

Theodore Wilson is a professor of 20th century U.S. political, military and diplomatic history. In particular, Wilson has studied U.S. soldiers during the war, looking at who they were, how they were trained and how they experienced combat. World War I marked the country’s first full draft. He also has researched coalitions from the American perspective and how the U.S. involvement in the war differed from Britain and France’s experience. Wilson is the general editor of the University Press of Kansas series “Modern War Studies," which has published more than 300 original titles on military history, including numerous works on World War I.

Daniel Atkinson, assistant director for the Kansas African Studies Center, examines the influence the 19th century has on today’s African-American culture. In particular, Atkinson can speak to the transformation of jazz during the World War I era and the role of James Reese Europe, an early jazz bandleader and lieutenant with the Harlem Hellfighters. Europe directed a regimental band that traveled through France playing for British, French and American troops. The experience shaped artists who were part of the Harlem Renaissance and other great American jazz musicians.

Mike Reid, director of public affairs for KU Memorial Unions and director of the KU History Project, can talk about the influence the war had on KU. The war took the lives of 130 students and alumni, including the first American officer killed in the war, William Fitzsimons. In their honor, two of the campus’ most iconic structures, the Kansas Union and Memorial Stadium, were built. Reid also has information on basketball inventor and KU coach James Naismith’s involvement in the war. In his 50s, Naismith was sent to the front in an effort to provide recreational opportunities for the troops.

KU Libraries have a wealth of information and resources related to World War I. Curators and bibliographers oversee materials related to the war, the United States’ involvement and KU during the era.

Rich Ring, bibliographer for history, has guided the libraries’ acquisition of World War I materials for 35 years. The materials include personal narratives, memoirs, diaries and letter collections published since the beginning of the war and continuing today. Among the collection are more than 3,000 titles in English, French, German, Italian, Russian and other languages. About 400 of them were written by women involved in the war as doctors, nurses, canteen workers, ambulance drivers and other roles. Ring can speak about the beginning of the war, recent scholarly views on the conflict and the libraries’ personal accounts of the war. He also oversaw the Libraries’ website guide on World War I materials.

Sheryl Williams, curator of collections at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, works with and can speak about materials that form the Kansas Collection. Included in the collection are materials related to the American experience during the war, especially Kansas. The collection includes letters written by soldiers to family in Kansas, diaries, photos, personal papers, WWI posters and state documents related to wartime home front issues. University Archives, located in Spencer, also has a wealth of materials related to KU during the war.


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Museum Events

Art Cart: Painted Fans
Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317
1301 Mississippi St.
The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together, taking inspiration from original works of art. After traveling the world, Sallie Casey Thayer donated her collection of objects to KU to form what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Learn about Mrs. Thayer and create a painted folding fan to start your own collection.

Slow Art Sunday: Steel Wool Peignoir
Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Kemper Family Foundations Balcony, 408
1301 Mississippi St.
Slow down at the Spencer and spend time getting to know one great work of art. Slow Art Sunday features one work for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff. In January, get to know Steel Wool Peignoir by Mimi Smith.

Science on Tap: The Cambrian: More than just Trilobites
Wednesday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.
The Cambrian is a time in Earth’s history when many modern animal relatives make their first appearance. It is also a time when many bizarre animals without modern relatives appear in the fossil record. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Julien Kimmig will talk about the diversity of animals during this amazing period and what it can teach us about the future of life on earth. 

Career Close-ups: Developing a Career in the Museum World
Friday, January 26 | 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Auditorium 309
1301 Mississippi St.
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to explore how any major can lead to a career in a cultural organization. A panel of museum professionals will share their experiences, followed by a networking reception and behind-the-scenes tours of KU’s museums. This year’s panelists include: Dina Bennett (Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University), Glenn North (Black Archives of Mid-America), and Adrianne Russell (Cabinet of Curiosities). Advance registration is required at www.spencerart.ku.edu/career-closeups. Please register by January 24. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/476618689399321/
Sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, University Career Center, and the Museum Studies Program.

Final Friday: Community and Culture Closing Celebration
Friday, January 26 | 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with the Max Kade Center and the Lawrence Opera Theatre, present an evening of 19th-century German-American music and cuisine.

Discovery Day: Celebrating Kansas
Sunday, January 28 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
In honor of Kansas Day, join us for hands-on activities that are all about Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils. 

Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture: An Evening with Eve L. Ewing: Poetry in Context
Wednesday, January 31 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, essayist, artist, and educator whose research focuses on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. Dr. Ewing earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is recognized as a leader and social influencer, especially in conversations involving academia, writing, black women, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. Sponsored by The Commons.

University in the Art Museum for Graduate Students
Thursday, February 1 | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St.
University in the Art Museum introduces graduate students to opportunities for object-based teaching, learning, and research through collaborative partnerships with the Spencer Museum of Art. This workshop includes discussions led by graduate students in the departments of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Geography; and Atmospheric Science. Advance registration is required by Monday, January 29. Register online at https://spencerart.ku.edu/uam.

Extraordinary Animals: Awesome Adaptations
Sunday, February 4 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
At this new monthly animal event, parents and children are invited to learn about animals of Kansas. Museum Animal Specialist Ashley Welton will offer presentations about animal adaptations using touchable specimens from the museums collections at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 pm. 

FeBREWary at the Watkins
Thursday, February 15 | 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with Lawrence Beer Co., presents an evening of beer, food, and knowledge! Enjoy beer and a fascinating talk on brewing provided by Lawrence Beer Co., plus food from local restaurants and an informal museum tour. Tickets are $15 for DCHS members, $20 for non-members. You may sign up online or contact the museum at 785-841-4109. We recommend buying in advance. Ages 21 and over only, please. More information and registration.

Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology
Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
A celebration of more than 100 years of KU herpetology research programs and the careers of Linda Trueb and Bill Duellman. Explore the Natural History Museum's reptile and amphibian collections and enjoy appetizers and drinks. Dine in the Panorama Gallery with KU herpetology scientists and students conducting reptile and amphibian research across the globe. 

6:30 pm: appetizers, drinks and science salon
7:00 pm: dinner and program
$50 per person 

Reserve your space now at the 2018 Winter Table by ordering tickets online. Tickets are $50 per person. You may also call 785-864-4450 to purchase by phone or you may purchase tickets at the museum lobby during business hours. Questions? Contact biodiversity@ku.edu or 785-864-4450.

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