‘Why Standing Rock Matters’ is topic for Clements Center panel discussion Monday, Oct. 24, 2016

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 18, 2016

why-standing-rock-mattersThe national protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline have drawn thousands to rallies throughout the country, including Dallas. What is Standing Rock and its history, and what is the basis of the dispute over the pipeline?

An invited panel moderated by Ben Voth, associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will take on these questions and more at SMU.

“Why Standing Rock Matters: Can Oil and Water Mix?” will take place 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, 2016in Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center.

A reception will precede the panel discussion at 5:30 p.m. Both the reception and forum are free and open to the public. Register online at Eventbrite or call the Clements Center at 214-768-3684.

The panelists include the following experts, who will each bring a different perspective to the discussion:

  • Archaeology – Kelly Morgan is president of Lakota Consulting LLC, which provides professional cultural and tribal liaison services in field archaeology. She works to protect cultural and natural resources alongside other archaeologists and environmentalists in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and on the island of Guam. Currently she is the tribal archaeologist for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Morgan received her PhD. in American Indian studies from the University of Oklahoma.
  • Energy – Craig Stevens is a spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN), a partnership aimed at supporting the economic development and energy security benefits in the Midwest. MAIN is a project of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council, with members in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois – the states crossed by the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Previously Stevens served as a spokesman for two cabinet secretaries, a surgeon general, and a member of Congress. He also worked on two presidential campaigns.
  • Environmental – Andrew Quicksall is the J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. His research focuses on aqueous metal enrichment and water contamination in the natural environment by probing both solution and solid chemistry of natural materials. He received his Ph.D. in earth science from Dartmouth College.
  • Tribal history – Cody Two Bears, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Councilman and tribal member who represents the Cannon Ball district of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota.
  • Law – Eric Reed (Choctaw Nation), J.D., is a Dallas lawyer who specializes in American Indian law, tribal law and international indigenous rights. Reed received a B.S in economics and finance and a B.A. in anthropology from SMU and his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law.
  • Mechanical – Tayeb “Ty” Benchaita is a managing partner of B&G Products and Services LLP, a consulting company in Houston that specializes in products quality control and assurance, products manufacturing and operations for the oil, fuels petrochemical, oil refining, lubricants, re-refining, and environmental industries. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and executive management training from the Harvard Business School.
  • Public policy – Michael Lawson is president of MLL Consulting which provides historical research and analysis for government agencies, Native American tribes, law firms and other private clients. Additionally, he is of counsel to Morgan, Angel & Associates, L.L.C. in Washington, D.C., where he formerly served as a partner. Lawson received his Ph.D. in American history and cultural anthropology from the University of New Mexico and is author of Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux (South Dakota State Historical Society: 2010). READ MORE

SMU alumna uses intern experience and leads field trip to historical mark on Dallas landscape

Waxahachie Daily Light

Originally Posted: October 17, 2016

WAXAHACHIE — A field trip to Dallas for Lisa Minton’s WNGA World Geography class coincidentally turned into a journey back in time for WISD’s Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Andrea Kline. Minton’s A and B day classes visited the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas and participated in a historical scavenger hunt Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Wednesday, Oct. 12.

“Our first stop was to the Human Rights Initiative and they learned about refugees and asylees. The second part of the trip, the scavenger hunt, I created for them in downtown Dallas at Dealey and Founders Plaza,” Minton said. “In those areas I had them take a “selfie” with what they were looking for and apply the information geographically. They might’ve been looking for sequent occupancy or some aspect of a cultural trait or landscape.”

It just so happened that Kline was making a stop by WNGA where she spoke with Minton.

“I was visiting with Mrs. Minton, and she mentioned the field trip to the Human Rights Initiative and it peaked my interest. I was curious to hear her stories about the trip especially with the political climate we are in,” Kline explained.

After she “invited herself,” Kline met Minton and her B day classes in Dallas to tag along.

“I drove up to Dallas and tagged along with the group. At the end of the day I found out we were doing the scavenger hunt and that’s when I realized they were using historical markers,” Kline said.

As a senior at Southern Methodist University, Kline held an intern position in which she would research, coordinate, write and produce a historical marker for a location in the City of Dallas.

“I asked Mrs. Minton if she knew if the marker I made was there. She then asked me what I meant by my historical marker. I explained that when I was in college, I did all of the research and worked with SMU and the Texas Historical Commission to put one up. That’s how we figured out that my historical marker was one of the answers for the scavenger hunt, so I had the chance to tell the students about it,” Kline said.

Research for the marker began her last semester before student teaching in the fall semester of 2007.

“It was for an internship that the History Department at SMU. I needed some hours for my last semester, and I was able to do the internship for those hours. I had a college advisor that I worked with and I checked in with her frequently,” Kline said.

The marker is for the first women to serve on a jury in Dallas County, Adelyne Dransfield, in November of 1954.

“It was an in-depth process of research and in the process, I learned a lot about how state laws are written. Women received the right to vote in 1920, but it wasn’t the end-all, be-all. They actually handed off a lot of rules and regulations to the states which filtered down to county laws. The right to serve on a jury was handed down to the counties and in 1954 a state law was passed and the counties followed,” Kline said.

She explained how she didn’t know “what she was getting herself into” when she accepted the historian internship but is very grateful that she did.

“The professor who explained the project to me was incredibly passionate about women’s rights and it got me thinking about my role as a woman and the role we played in the past. I thought it would be neat to look into and the more and more I researched it, the respect I have for the woman multiplied,” Kline stated.

Before 1954, it was illegal for a female to serve on a jury.

“Names were placed in a hopper, they would turn it and then pull your name. If a woman’s name sounded or even half-way sounded masculine they were required to show up to serve jury duty,” Kline explained. “Women, knowing that it was illegal, showed up anyways. Now I hear people complain about jury duty, but there were people who were willing to do it.” READ MORE

Listen: Ed Countryman, History, on ‘The Birth Of A Nation’

KERA, Art and Seek

Originally Posted: October 6, 2016

The “Birth of a Nation” looks at the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The film is generating serious awards buzz, as well as controversy. This week, we focus on the historical events that inspired the movie with Edward Countryman, an SMU professor who specializes in American history. LISTEN

Everything you think you know about Reagan is wrong

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 22, 2016

By: Jeffrey A. Engel, an American history scholar and director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Email: jaengel@smu.edu

Woe to the Republican candidate who doesn’t pledge to be the Gipper reincarnated. But woe to the American people who try to find a candidate today who represents all they remember Ronald Reagan to have been.

Having canonized his memory, Republican nominees invoked his name 15 times at one GOP primary debate in February. God got only five mentions.

Even GOP nominee Donald Trump, a nontraditional Republican candidate for sure, willingly embraces his newfound role as Reagan’s heir, though he wasn’t always a fan. Critical of the country’s 40th president in his self-lauded 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Trump called Reagan “a con man” who couldn’t “deliver the goods” for the American people. Asked in 2011 to name which presidents he admired most (no doubt having determined his political future was with Republicans), Trump offered a distinctly different response: “Well, I really like and knew a little bit Ronald Reagan. … I loved his style. I loved what he represented.”

Reagan’s shadow looms large over the contemporary political landscape, his core beliefs setting inviolable tenets of modern Republicanism. Reagan believed in tax cuts. So, too, does Trump, as did the other 16 GOP candidates. Reagan believed in a strong defense. Again, there was unanimous support among the GOP possibilities.

The center of American politics stands further to the right today than when Reagan took office in 1981, in large part because of the clarity of his message. Even Democrats recognize his appeal. Bill Clinton famously declared “the era of big government is over,” in 1996, sounding more Reaganesque than like his party’s own patron saint, Franklin Roosevelt. Barack Obama, too, recognized Reagan’s core appeal, modeling his own message-driven presidency accordingly. Obama said in 2008 that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path” because he “tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, we want clarity, we want optimism.”

Today’s America is Reagan’s, but what if I told you everything you think you know about the man, and most everything his compatriots praise, is wrong? Americans love the Reagan they remember, not the Reagan that was. READ MORE

Questions of health and trustworthiness, removing moderators from debates, and the ‘deplorables’

SMU News

Originally Posted: September 13, 2016

Below is an excerpt from an SMU press release. READ MORE

Jeffrey A. Engel



On the history of candidate health as an issue in presidential politics…

  • “It’s really interesting to me as a historian that it doesn’t take much, as we’ve seen from Trump’s campaign, to make an insinuation into a story. We saw that in particular in 1988 when the George H.W. Bush campaign basically floated the idea that Michael Dukakis was mentally unstable, with no evidence – Reagan even said ‘I’m not going to pick on an invalid.’ And all the issues occurred with John McCain in the 2000 primary against George W. Bush, when a whisper campaign asked, ‘Do you really want a man who’s been tortured five years in charge of nukes?’ Health is the perfect embodiment of an issue that can be raised without any evidence and, as long as it’s in people’s minds, you have to defend against it, and there’s no defense against an issue that’s not real.”

On the impact that questions about a candidate’s health can have on an election…

  • “I think it had a tremendous impact in 1988. The (George H.W.) Bush campaign did a remarkable job painting Dukakis as weak, out of touch politically with the mainstream and, over time, as out of touch with reality. Those were things Dukakis was unable to contend with. What’s important to note from 1988 is that was also a race that got way down into the mud, like this one, and it produced remarkably low voter turnout. One lesson you can draw is that you can drive voters away from the polls, but that doesn’t mean you’re driving up enthusiasm for your own presidency.”

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History. He can discuss:

  • comparisons to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric



Matthew Wilson



On the impact questions of a candidate’s health can have on an election…

  • “The presidency is a high-stress, demanding job. For that reason, voters put fair scrutiny on whether the candidates are up to the physical and mental stamina requirements. Questions of the health of a candidate also put more focus on the running mate, and whether that person is seen as a capable and palatable person to assume the office if necessary. Both Clinton and Trump are fortunate that they picked solid people for their running mates.”
  • “One thing to keep in mind: Hillary and Trump are two of the oldest candidates to ever seek the presidency. For that reason, there will be more focus on their health.”

On what’s the bigger issue, Clinton’s health, or her breach of trust in being honest about it…

  • “This episode serves to reinforce the notion that Clinton’s natural instincts are not to be open and transparent. Her natural instinct is to conceal, obfuscate, deceive and to only come clean when her hand is forced. If, in fact, it’s true that she has pneumonia, it’s just mind boggling she didn’t come forward and say that. Particularly with this question about her health. Not revealing she has pneumonia until she has to because she collapsed at an event reinforces the idea she’s not forthcoming.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics


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

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

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