Listen: Alexis McCrossen, History, Wasting time in America

BYU Radio

Originally Posted: November 24, 2015

Alexis McCrossen, a professor of U.S. social and cultural history, recently talked with “Top of Mind” host Julie Rose on BYUradio about time, including how we spend our leisure hours and how it influences our perception of others.

From the show: “Our relationship to time in America is complicated. It’s immensely valuable to us – ‘time is money,’ right? So we punish people by forcing them to spend time locked up. And we brag about how many hours we work and scoff at the Europeans who put in only 35 hours a week. Yet, we also spend massive amounts of money and time on leisure activities.”

McCrossen is the author of Marking Modern Times: Clocks, Watches and Other Timekeepers in American Life.


Joan of Arc docudrama features Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams and Bonnie Wheeler

The Gospel Herald

Originally Posted: November 18, 2015

Joan of Arc, a groundbreaking docudrama featuring the true story of the young heroine-turned-saint who led the French army to victory over the British during the Hundred Years’ War, will premiere this Thanksgiving holiday on BUYtv.

The thrilling new docudrama was written and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Russell Holt and shares the incredible story of how the deep faith of a humble farm girl enabled her to lead her country to victory, making her one of the most revered Christian figures in all of history. ”

Joan of Arc tells the tale of a simple girl whose steadfast commitment to her personal beliefs and religious faith led her to become a martyr, a military leader and the patron Saint of France by the age of 19,” reads the film’s press release. “Her profound dedication to her faith coupled with her ability to establish strong principles at a young age guided her, France and eventually the United States, to greatness.”

Filmed in France, the docudrama is told in Joan’s own words and uses actual 15th century records of her trial for heresy. In addition, Ryan Little, the award-winning director of photography, brings to life historically accurate dramatic re-enactments of events and battles in their actual locations throughout France. ”

While the story of Joan of Arc has been presented on-screen before and most often told through the lens of the battlefield, our film is told in Joan’s own words from a perspective of faith,” said Derek Marquis, managing director of BYUtv. ”

Although we depict elaborate battle scenes and military strategy, we present a unique mixture of her history and faith, interspersing expert commentary, dramatic re-enactments and angelic visitations. By examining in-depth the short, yet focused life of Joan – a young farm girl who was chosen by God to crown a King and save a nation – our program provides viewers a detailed explanation as to why her tale resonates with people of all faiths.”

The docudrama will also feature a number of renowned historians and religious leaders, including Helen R. Castor Ph.D., Bye-Fellow, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Author of Joan of Arc: A History, Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams Ph.D., Professor and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Medieval Europe, Southern Methodist University, Daniel Hobbins Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Notre Dame University, Bonnie Wheeler Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Medieval Studies, Southern Methodist University and Director, International Joan of Arc Society, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Gérald R. Caussé, Presiding Bishop, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This groundbreaking, family-friendly docudrama will premiere on Nov. 26th on BYUtv at 6pm MT/8pm ET, followed by a 10-minute behind-the-scenes special and will be rebroadcast throughout the 2015 Holiday Season.

Although she died many years ago, Joan of Arc continues to be an inspirational role model today for people of all ages, as her story is one of undying faith, perseverance, honor and courage.

“We know more about Joan of Arc than most medieval historic figures due to the detailed transcripts from her trial,” said Mr. Holt. “Joan of Arc played a fundamental role in shaping world history by leading the French army to victory against the English forces. The French Navy would later play an indispensable role in United States’ Revolutionary War. Without Joan of Arc’s heroic and divine mission, one could argue the nation of France and the Unites States would not exist as they do today.” READ MORE

SMU students in Paris report they are safe; SMU monitoring situation

SMU News

Originally Posted: November 14, 2015

SMU has heard from all 11 of its students studying in Paris that they are safe. The SMU Travel Oversight Committee is closely monitoring the situation and is receiving updates from the U.S. State Department and International SOS.

SMU community members abroad are asked to be aware that France has declared a national state of emergency and has tightened its borders. On Saturday, November 14, the U.S. Embassy in France issued a security message regarding the terrorist attacks: “Further incidents are possible. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security, including limiting their movements to essential activity. U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.” While airports and train stations remain open, travelers may expect delays due to heightened security measures.
All SMU Abroad students are covered by emergency travel assistance through I-SOS and may use the services of I-SOS worldwide during their term of study abroad. During SMU Abroad orientation, students received laminated cards with emergency phone numbers for I-SOS. I-SOS contact information also is available online at In addition, every SMU-approved study abroad program has its own emergency preparedness plan and protocols.

Students with concerns or questions are asked to contact the SMU Abroad Director, Dr. Cathy Winnie, at (214-768-4904) or SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters at (214-768-1586). Student safety is the highest priority of SMU and our partner study abroad programs. READ MORE

Parental Grief Has Often Been a Factor in Presidential Politics

New York Times

Originally Posted: October 22, 2015

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on Wednesday that he would not run for president, his reasoning coming as no surprise: His son, Beau, died of brain cancer in May at 46, and Mr. Biden lost valuable time to mount a candidacy as he struggled with his grief.

“Beau is our inspiration,” Mr. Biden, who turns 73 next month, told listeners in the Rose Garden. His son had urged him to run, but in the months following his death, Mr. Biden openly acknowledged his own fragility: sudden breakdowns, drained emotional reserves.

This is not the first time the nation’s political life has been roiled by excruciating grief of a parent who has lost a child. In 1900, as many as three in 10 infants in urban areas died before their first birthdays. No surprise, then, that many 18th- and 19th-century presidents suffered the loss of one or more children. Historians are still tallying the costs to both our leaders and the public. MORE

Meet Dedman College Faculty during Family Weekend

2:00PM 3:00PM

Dedman College, the heart of SMU houses the vital disciplines the underlie great accomplishment. Denman College offers 85 exciting majors and minors in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Their award winning faculty will be available to discuss their teaching and research interests. READ MORE

Jeff Engel says Hillary Clinton “came off the best and most presidential . . .”

Originally Posted: October 15, 2015

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Jeffery Engel, an award-winning American historian and director of the Center for Presidential History at SMU, assesses the Oct. 13 Democratic debate, saying Hillary Clinton “came off the best and the most presidential in large part because she came off more likeable than most people expected.”


Greg Downs’ book challenges Appomatox ending to Civil War

Event At a Glance

What: Greg Downs, a leading Civil War and Reconstruction historian, will deliver a lecture inspired by his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War (Harvard University Press, 2015), followed by a Q&A and a book signing.

When: 6–8:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 14

Where: Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, 3225 University Boulevard

Sponsor: The SMU William P. Clements Depart of History


‘Workers’ or slaves? Textbook maker backtracks after SMU alumna’s online complaint

Washington Post

Originally Posted: October 5, 2015

Mothers of teenagers are used to getting frustrating text messages, but the one that Roni Dean-Burren received from her 15-year-old son last week wasn’t about alcohol, dating or money for the movies.

It was about history.

Her son, Coby, had sent her a photo of a colorful page in his ninth-grade McGraw-Hill World Geography textbook. In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a speech bubble pointing to a U.S. map read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

“We was real hard workers wasn’t we,” Coby retorted in a subsequent text.

The image alarmed Dean-Burren, who was an English teacher for 11 years at the Pearland, Tex., public high school that her son attends. Now a doctoral candidate in the University of Houston’s Language Arts program, she has spent much of her life thinking about the power and dangers of nuanced language. The motive behind the textbook’s choice of words seemed clear.

“This is erasure,” Dean-Burren said in an interview with The Washington Post. “This is revisionist history — retelling the story however the winners would like it told.” READ MORE

LISTEN: A Conversation With Laura Wilson


Originally Posted: September 16, 2015

A Conversation With Laura Wilson

Throughout her career, Dallas photographer Laura Wilson has been taken by the imagery of the American West. This hour, we’ll talk to her about why she’s drawn to the West, her work with the late Richard Avedon and “That Day: Laura Wilson,” an exhibition of her work on display at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. LISTEN

SMU faculty to assist area history teachers in tackling immigration

DALLAS (SMU) — Immigration has rarely been so controversial or prominent a topic as it is today, which makes it all the more challenging to teach it to middle-and high-school students. SMU and the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture are partnering with Humanities Texas and the Texas Historical Commission to present a conference at the museum on the history of U.S. immigration from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, to help area teachers tackle this hot-button topic in the classroom. READ MORE