Three historians open a bar…. Soon afterwards the place receives regulatory approval as a treatment for insomnia. HOLD ON! Let this delightful lecture dispel that old saw. Retired Kalamazoo College history professors John Wickstrom, David Barclay, and David Strauss show how everything (how liberal arts is that!) has a history (informed by a multitude of sources), including, for example: politics, art, country music, the invasion of Ukraine, Mars, a forged biography of a medieval saint (pertinent, all these centuries later, to ongoing denial of the results of the 2022 U.S. presidential election), Julia Child, Kalamazoo College Faculty Council meeting minutes of the 1970s, “faith knowledge” and Czar Nicolas I, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, and the uses of fiction to understand fact and change. And the list goes on. The careers of these three teachers and scholars total more than a century. How they responded to the challenge of incorporating into their 10-week courses the tsunamis of new content and approaches to teaching and research in history is a story of inspiration told by master storytellers. How wonderful was the opportunity to respond to that challenge at a college that encouraged its learning community to try new things. Why do history? Fundamentally, because it’s fun to open new windows to the past.
Category: Lectures and K Talks
The Keepsake Left Behind
My love is as the path through the bamboo groves;
With the coming of the autumn wind was an endless fall of dewdrops.
A gifted scholar and teacher, the late Roselee Bundy focused much of her study on poetry, specifically poems written by women in Medieval Japan. When, how, and why did these women write poems? Why should we care? Dr. Bundy, Professor Emerita of Japanese Language and Literature at Kalamazoo College, spent more than three decades exploring these questions. The legacy of her explorations is the subject of the 2022 Nagai Kafu Lecture by Christina Laffin, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair of Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of British Columbia. Roselee was a lover of books and generous reviewer of books, so her legacy includes a trove of reading (measured by truckload!) as well as a posthumous gift to support study abroad and travel to support K students’ scholarly work in East Asian studies. All things have song and sound, and poetry was a way in. These woman poets, contended Rose, wrote poems to open a rich life and landscape of mind that transcended loss and the borders of self, community, gender, and nation. Among Rose’s many translations is the following by Izumi Shibiku:
Never did I think
that I myself, still living,
would become the keepsake
you have left behind.
Leading With Love
Meet Malcolm Smith, whose approach to student development is to lead with love and promote the values of integrity, transparency, collaboration, and kindness. Smith is Kalamazoo College’s Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students. For more than two decades he has helped build transformative educational experiences at Ohio University, John Carroll University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, and Salve Regina University. Then, nine months ago, he decided to bring his talents to K and (rather than build) amplify the transformative educational experience the College already does so well. Short- and long-term challenges and opportunities include: expand student activity programs; grow the Intercultural Center; increase four-year campus residency; and improve residence halls in ways that enhance engagement with the K academic experience and foster a healthier work-recreation balance.
More After Four
People (and often their parents with, or for, them) choose to attend college for many reasons: among the most (often the most) prominent: a meaningful career. Yet that outcome is hardly automatic, says Tricia Zelaya-Leon, K’s former director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. CCPD helps each student (and alum) ensure that outcome happens for them. Exactly how is the subject of this informative lecture about recent happenings at and the exciting future of the CCPD. Mission, vision, priorities, innovations, and the many ways that the entire K community can (and must) involve itself Dr. Zelaya-Leon shares. One, among many, of the innovations is the “career studio” with its trained peer associates, which has already increased student interaction (both early and often) with the CCPD, particularly among students of color and first-generation students. Zelaya-Leon foresees the day when the CCPD is the preeminent source for career discernment, preparation, and talent development for all K students and alumni. That day may already be on the way.
K’s dedicated Career and Professional Development (CCPD) staff relies on the support of alumni to provide advice and/or resources for students conducting career development internships, senior individualized projects, and post-graduate job searches. Below are 5 ways that you can help K students!
James Baldwin’s Blues Sensibility
Looking forward for transcendence requires looking back with honesty. Essential to both: story sharing. Call that a blues sensibility. In November 1960 James Baldwin delivers a lecture in Stetson Chapel. Decades later the story of Baldwin’s visit inspires a timely story gathering. The voices are members of the Kalamazoo community recalling their experiences during the civil rights movement. The story gatherers are K students. That gathering effort—also known as “building the archive”—was a collaboration between Professor of English Bruce Mills’ senior seminar on James Baldwin and the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE), a local nonprofit organization founded by Donna Odom ’67. This K-Talk by those collaborators is fascinating, in part, because it’s far less lecture than it is story sharing, including, among others, stories from or about Harold Phillips, Walter Hall, Paul Collins, Robert Stavig, and, of course, James Baldwin. Mills and Odom and the other participants in this singular event show the power of storytelling to connect and celebrate diversity and to unite diverse individuals in the acts of imagining and then making a future that includes us all. The work’s neither quick nor easy, and needs that blues sensibility.
- Wisdom Oral Project, an initiative begun by SHARE (Society for History and Racial Equity).
- James Baldwin visited K for one week in 1960. You can read more about his visit in the Index (after opening the Searchable PDF (one file) (58.86Mb) scroll down to the November 12 issue.)
- “In Search of a Majority,” the address delivered at Stetson Chapel in November 1960 and later published in Nobody Knows My Name.
- “Notes of a Native Son,” the title essay from the book read by K students during Baldwin’s visit.
The Arc From “Being Here” to “Making ‘Here’ Home”
More black people, indigenous people, and people of color are choosing to attend K as students and work at K as faculty and staff. That’s progress in diversity, or “being here.” More progress is required in equity and inclusion, or “making ‘here’ home” for all. Home is deep and complicated. K is shaping itself into a space conducive to in-and-out-of-the-box ideas and actions that extend the arc from “being here” to “making ‘here’ home,” a place that every member of the K community considers to be their own. In this K-Talk, four members of the community describe the multitude of projects—a hard work as urgent as it is painstaking—that constitutes the march to extend the arc. These four educator-activists are D’Angelo Bailey ’05, Karen Isble (Advancement), Regina Stevens-Truss (Chemistry), and Rhiki Swinton (Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership). What they describe is eye-opening (in terms of need and effect) and inspiring. And a good start.
Japan has been the (unlikely) prime mover in the development of the Paralympics movement, says Professor Dennis Frost, which is a surprising fact given the country’s nearly total inexperience with disability sports in the early 1960s, when it made the monumental decision to host the 1964 Paralympics in Tokyo. Since that time Japan has provided foundational contributions to the expansion of the Paralympics, including: stronger links to the Olympics; expansion of participation from a single category (spinal cord injury) to multiple categories of disability; growth in the number of largescale regional and international events; the evolution of Paralympic focus from rehabilitation to elite competition; exponential growth in media coverage; and the movement’s effect on social changes, including barrier free environments and inclusion more generally. Frost is the Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences. The Paralympics movement in Japan (and the world), he says, is a complicated and imperfect success story (still being written) about the effect of large events like the Paralympic Games and (even more so) of people on the course of durable changes to society. His K-Talk is based on his recent book: More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan.
Europe Shrugs Off U.S. Influence in Wake of ‘America’s Berlin’
U.S. influence is on the wane in Europe. But Professor Emeritus David Barclay notes that this wasn’t always the case. From 1948 through the mid-1960s, the United States enormously influenced West Berlin, causing many historians to describe the western half of the city as “America’s Berlin.” Barclay, who retired from K as the Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies, focuses on the buildings and personalities that shaped “America’s Berlin,” from Lucius Clay to Eleanor Lansing Dulles, in a special K-Talk. He also briefly considers what happened to U.S. influence after the mid-1960s. Hear from Barclay after President Jorge G. Gonzalez unveils the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History, which benefits K students who demonstrate exemplary capacity for and commitment to scholarly work in the history department.
Encountering, by Littles, the Birds of Bernard
In a sense, painter Bernard Palchick makes his viewers painters as well. How? He invites them to make the symbols of his paintings into symbolism of their own. That makes his tour of the three-artist exhibition—“Suggestion: That is the Dream”—your tour. The exhibition’s title derives from a French poet’s distinction between naming and suggestion. The former suppresses joy, the latter enables discovery, little by little. In his wide-ranging discussion Bernard shares insight about the prevalence of his bird symbolism; his work in oils, acrylics, and alcohol inks; the influences of Kalamazoo College and COVID-19 on his recent work; his approach to liminal space and landscape; and the excitement of not knowing how a painting will finish itself. He also gives a virtual tour of his condo basement art studio. Bernard is professor emeritus of art and the former vice president of advancement and acting president of Kalamazoo College. An apostle of the liberal arts, Bernard gathers spirits as diverse as Giovanni Bellini, Charles Baudelaire, and Mary Oliver to illuminate his artwork. The latter wrote the line that suggests, a little, the importance of birds to Bernard: “Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests / of our lives.”
For more information about Bernard’s artwork, visit his website at BernardPalchick.com.
Bumping Up Against Ukraine
Russian historian Dr. Lewis H. Siegelbaum had an epiphany when he was considering his subject for Kalamazoo College’s annual Edward Moritz Lecture, which was this: a lifetime of research into the history of Russia and the Soviet Union does indeed provide qualification to deliver a lecture on Ukraine. Siegelbaum had, in fact, “bumped up” often against the latter in his explorations of the former. And, at the time Siegelbaum was invited to give the Moritz Lecture (December, 2019, during the first impeachment hearings of then President Donald Trump) Ukraine was very much in the news. In the informative and wide-ranging lecture that resulted from his epiphany Siegelbaum touches on the historical effects of Ukraine’s crossroads geographical location between the tides of eastern and western empires; on the Soviet Union’s 1954 “gifting” of Crimea to Ukraine and, 60 years later, the Russian Federation’s annexation of it back; on the history of Ukraine’s Jews; on the vast migrations (forced or otherwise) of Soviet peoples throughout 15 Soviet Socialist republics during the era of the USSR, and on Ukraine as a “laboratory,” so to speak, for the study of national identity formation with respect to both “other” and “self.” Siegelbaum is Jack and Margaret Sweet Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University where he taught Russian and European history from 1983 until 2018. The College’s History Department’s annual Edward Moritz Lecture pays tribute to the late professor Edward Moritz, who taught British and European history at Kalamazoo College from 1955 to 1988. The lecture celebrates excellence in teaching and research in the field of history. The full title of Siegelbaum’s lecture was: “Bumping Up Against Ukraine as an Historian of Russia.”