Making sense of Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico

Fox 4

Originally Posted: September 6, 2016

Jeffrey Engel, associate professor and director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, talks about Donald Trump’s recent trip to Mexico for a visit with President Enrique Peña Nieto and its effect on Trump’s efforts to become the next president of the U.S. Watch

Chill Out. Political History has Never Been Better.

Lawyers, Guns and Money 

Originally Posted: September 1, 2016

This is a guest post by Gabriel Rosenberg and Ariel Ron. Gabriel N. Rosenberg is assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and feminist Studies at Duke University and the author of The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America. Ariel Ron is assistant professor of history at Southern Methodist University and working on a book tentatively titled, Grassroots Leviathan: Northern Agrarian Nationalism in the Slaveholding Republic.

If you hang around history professors, you’ll inevitably hear some carping: They sure don’t write history like they used to! Plumbers and insurance agents probably do something similar when they get together. But it’s weird for a profession premised on historical context to indulge such a naively nostalgic narrative of its own development. The latest entry is a New York Times Op-Ed by Frederik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood titled, “Why Did We Stop Teaching Political History?”

Trick question! We never stopped. Political history is fine. In fact, it’s never been better. (It’s American politics that stinks.)

The Logevall and Osgood editorial pushes a narrative of decline for political history. Once upon a time, American historians foregrounded “the doings of governing elites” and, thus, fostered general civic literacy and understanding of the political process. Some political historians, they contend, even wielded influence over policy makers. But historians in the 1970s turned their attention to charting the influence of social movements—laborers, women, non-whites, and gays—and to “recovering the lost experiences of these groups.” As a result, “the study of America’s political past is being marginalized.” Universities neglected history concerned with the hows and whys of governance, and now they fail to educate students adequately on “the importance that compromise has played in America’s past, of the vital role of mutual give-and-take in the democratic process.”

Indeed, Logevall and Osgood claim political history as a “field of study has cratered.” The anchor for this claim? The purported paucity of job ads dedicated to “political history.”

It’s true that US historians were once (overly) focused on political elites. But what about the rest of the story? READ MORE

Listen: A Nation Engaged – America’s Role In The World


Originally Posted- August 29, 2016

If you think this year’s presidential campaigns seem more divisive and acrimonious than ever before, you’re not alone. And the political rhetoric is making waves – not just here at home but abroad as well. This hour, as part of a NPR’s “A Nation Engaged” conversation project, we’ll talk about how the election and the next president will affect America’s role in the world. Our guests are writer Ben Fountain, who’s been reporting on the election forThe Guardian and Jeffrey Engel, who directs the Center for Presidential History at SMU. LISTEN

Oh, the places Dedman College students will go… (after graduation)!

Dedman College graduate employer list

Welcome to the Class of 2020

SMU News

Originally Posted: August 22, 2016

Following you will find Class of 2020 PhotoMaking the Class of 2020 PhotoOpening Convocation scenesOpening Convocation speechCamp Corral scenes“Discover Dallas” scenes“Discover Dallas” StorifyCorral Kick-OffMove-In video and scenes, and AARO.

SMU Class of 2020 Photo

SMU Class of 2020

SMU Clements Center awards top book prize Sept. 27

SMU News

Originally Posted: August 15, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies will present its annual book prize on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to historian Andrew J. Torget forSeeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

The David J. Weber-William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America honors both the Center’s founding director and founding benefactor.

Torget, a former Clements Fellow, will be honored Sept. 27 at a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by a 6 p.m. lecture and book-signing at McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall, 3225 University, SMU. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To register, call 214-768-3684 or click here.

Andrew TorgetIn Seeds of Empire, Torget, associate professor of history at the University of North Texas, explores the roles that cotton and slavery played in fomenting the Texas Revolution, which was in part a reaction against abolitionists in the Mexican government, and in shaping Texas’ borderlands into the first fully-committed slaveholders’ republic in North America.

In selecting the book from a large field of entries, judges wrote: “Torget’s deep archival work brings a fresh perspective to the conflicts over slavery in Texas on the eve of the Civil War. The book’s most notable accomplishment is the emphasis on cotton and slavery as a world-wide system that bound Texas history to larger economic and political forces in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. He challenges the traditional interpretation that the westward movement in the early nineteenth century was primarily motivated by ideologies of racial supremacy that characterized Manifest Destiny. Instead, Torget demonstrates that, although westering Americans felt superior to the people whose lands they invaded, they mainly migrated to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the trans-Atlantic cotton economy that the Mexican government had established by offering them free land.”

Finalists for the Weber-Clements Book Prize are Emily Lutenski for West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands; and former Clements Fellow John Weber for From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century.

This is the eighth major book prize Seeds of Empire has won.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is affiliated with the Department of History within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The center was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.  READ MORE

Calendar Highlights: Back to school in brief, Fall 2016

Dallas Hall at SMU

Welcome to the 2016-17 academic year! Here are a few Fall 2016 dates to remember:

  • Opening Convocation and Common Reading discussion: Sunday, Aug. 21
  • First day of classes: Monday, Aug. 22
  • General Faculty Meeting: Wednesday, Aug. 24
  • Labor Day: Monday, Sept. 5 (University offices closed)
  • First Faculty Senate Meeting of 2016-17: Wednesday, Sept. 7
  • Family Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Sept. 23-24
  • Fall Break: Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 10-11
  • Homecoming Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5
  • Thanksgiving: Thursday-Friday, Nov. 24-25 (University offices closed, no classes on Wednesday, Nov. 23)
  • Last day of classes: Monday, Dec. 5
  • Reading days: Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 6-7
  • Final exams: Thursday-Wednesday, Dec. 8-14 (no exams scheduled for Sunday)
  • December Commencement Convocation: Saturday, Dec. 17 (official close of term and date for conferral of degrees)
  • Christmas/Winter Break: Friday, Dec. 23, 2016-Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 (University offices closed)


Dedman College alumnus and photographer Stuart Palley shares his tips on how to create beautiful images once darkness falls.


Originally Posted: August 10, 2016

SMU alumnus and photographer Stuart Palley shares his tips on how to create beautiful images once darkness falls. Palley graduated in 2011 with a double major in History and Finance and minors in Human Rights and Photography. Read more

~In our latest How to Photograph series, TIME asked award-winning photographer Stuart Palley to share his tips and tricks to create beautiful night-time imagery.

Palley has mastered the art and technical skills of photographing at night and is known for his compelling and breathtaking photos of wildfires and his magical images of the the night sky. “Ninety percent of it is preparation and 10% of it is the actual execution,” he says.

Watch this TIME video to see which apps Palley uses to plan his shoots, tips on how to work in darkness, what equipment to invest in and how you can play with different light sources to achieve the best results. READ MORE

Three Dedman College faculty members present at conference on history of conflict


Originally Posted: August 11, 2016

Texas, United States and global perspectives on conflict will be the topics of the second annual New History at Old Red Conference for teachers Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Old Red Museum in Dallas.

“The topic of conflict is extremely relevant in today’s intense geopolitical climate,” says Brooke Creek, education and programs director at the Old Red Museum. “Understanding how the past dealt with unprecedented issues impacting our society allows us to focus on creating a better future. This conference will provide educators with an interesting and factual foundation from noted scholars to structure their lesson plans in the classroom.”

Cohosting the conference are SMU, the Texas Historical Commission and Humanities Texas with additional support from Dallas Independent School District’s Region 10 Education Service Center.

Conference participants can choose to hear three of six speakers presenting during the morning session, and a catered lunch will be provided to all participants. The afternoon breakout sessions will provide teachers with lesson plans, materials and strategies to help them make history come alive for students at all grade levels. Participating organizations include the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the El Paso Holocaust Museum and the Museum of South Texas History. Teachers attending both sessions may earn 6 Continuing Professional Education Credits.


Topics and speakers include:

The First American Civil War
Edward Countryman
University Distinguished Professor, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU.

Myth, Memory and Monument: Rethinking the Texas Revolution
Sam Haynes
Director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and Professor of History at University of Texas at Arlington.

The Other Texas Revolution: A Forgotten Borderlands Revolt in the Early Twentieth Century
Benjamin Johnson
Assistant Professor in History at Loyola University Chicago.

Overcoming Apartheid
Jilly E. Kelly
Assistant Professor of African history and South African history, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU.

First World War and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Sabri Ates
Associate Professor of History (modern Middle East), Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU.

Home Away from Home: American Women and Military Entertainment
Kara Dixon Vuic
Associate Professor and Schmidt Professor of War, Conflict, and Society in 20th Century America, TCU.

Conference participants also will have access to the Old Red Museum’s temporary exhibit, Dallas on the Home Front, which examines the everyday lives of women and men on the home front during World War II. The exhibit runs through September 30, 2016.

Registration, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, parking, materials and access to the exhibit area, is $25 and can be made a For additional information, call Brooke Creek at 214-757-1927


The mission of the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture is to inspire and educate people with the rich cultural, economic, political and social history of the Dallas County area, showcasing the main cultures that, together, have formed the Dallas of today.  The museum, located at 100 S. Houston in downtown Dallas, is housed in the historic red sandstone Dallas County Courthouse.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

What Conventions Tell Us About Trump, Clinton and the Parties

The Arizona Republic

Originally Posted: July 31, 2016

The following is from the July 31, 2016,edition of The Arizona Republic. Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, provided expertise for this story.

PHILADELPHIA — It was hard to miss the dramatic contrasts between the Democrats’ and Republican’s national conventions.

The four-day spectacles, which offer an opportunity for the presidential nominees and their parties to present their best face as the general-election battle begins, seemed to be held in different Americas.

One, a foreboding place besieged by terrorism and violence. The other, a nation with struggles but where people of different backgrounds can overcome problems by working together.

Either group, it seemed, might not recognize the picture of the United States that the other portrayed.

The candidates’ nomination speeches distilled these contrasts. Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever nominated by a major U.S. party, spoke of unity and reached out to all Americans, even those who won’t vote for her, with a positive tone. Donald Trump at times painted a grim portrait of the United States as a nation facing immediate threats from illegal immigration, terrorism and attacks on law enforcement.

These differences — and the internal tensions that erupted at times into booing and chants throughout both conventions — provide insight into the state of the presidential race, as well as the future of the two parties. READ MORE