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

Andrew Graybill, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, photographer Laura Wilson’s work showcases American West

Guide Live

Originally Posted: August 28, 2015

Laura Wilson’s rare photographs showcase the American West

Hollywood actor Owen Wilson has in his home “a great picture that my mom took of Donald Judd. He’s a great artist, and it’s in Marfa. It may have been one of the last photographs of him that was taken before he passed away.”
Owen pauses and says, “I think of her as my mom, and my mom is an artist.” The picture of Judd “is an artist taking a picture of an artist. Maybe that’s why she’s able to get such good photographs. She has the eye of an artist.” READ MORE

Thomas Knock’s forthcoming book, George McGovern confessed to having secret child

Washington Post

Originally Posted: July 30, 2015

In confession to historian, George McGovern revealed he had a secret child

An academic with a forthcoming biography of 1972 Democratic presidential candidate and former senator George McGovern has confirmed that the South Dakotan fathered a child before he was married.

He said McGovern, as an 18-year-old freshman at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., lost his virginity to the girlfriend of a friend during a trip to Lake Mitchell in December of 1940 or January of 1941, and immediately got her pregnant.

McGovern, a decorated World War II pilot and a liberal icon who died in 2012, lost his seat in the U.S. Senate in the Republican sweep of 1980. He served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture during the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Rumors — most recently in stories about the South Dakota senator’s FBI file, which included references to an “illegitimate child” — about a child McGovern had out of wedlock before he married Eleanor McGovern in 1943 dogged McGovern for much of his political career. Before McGovern died in 2012, he told Thomas J. Knock, a history professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, about the affair and the daughter he had in 1941. READ MORE

Edward Countryman, History, How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions Of History


Originally Posted: July 13, 2015

This summer there’s been an intense debate surrounding the Confederate flag and the legacy of slavery in this country.

In Texas that debate revolves around new textbooks that 5 million students will use when the school year begins next month.

The question is, are students getting a full and accurate picture of the past?

Eleventh-grade U.S. history teacher Samantha Manchac is concerned about the new materials and is already drawing up her lesson plans for the coming year. She teaches at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a public school in Houston.

The first lesson she says she’ll give her kids is how textbooks can tell different versions of history. “We are going to utilize these textbooks to some extent, but I also want you to be critical of the textbooks and not take this as the be-all and end-all of American history,” she imagines telling her new students.

She doesn’t want to rely solely on the brand-new texts because she says the guidelines for the books downplay some issues — like slavery — and skirt others — like Jim Crow laws.

She says it’s “definitely an attempt in many instances to whitewash our history, as opposed to exposing students to the reality of things and letting them make decisions for themselves.”

You might be wondering how Texas got these books in the first place, so here’s a quick history lesson:

In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new, more conservative learning standards.

Among the changes — how to teach the cause of the Civil War.

One side of the debate: Republican board member Patricia Hardy said, “States’ rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue.”

On the other side: Lawrence Allen, a Democrat on the board: “Slavery and states’ rights.”

Ultimately the state voted to soften slavery’s role, among other controversial decisions, and these standards became the outline for publishers to sell books to the Texas market — the second-largest in the country.

The final materials were approved last fall after the state board did some examination and said the books get the job done.

Brian Belardi from McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of some of the new material, agrees. “The history of the Civil War is complex and our textbook accurately presents the causes and events,” he said, adding that the Texas books will not be used for the company’s clients in other states.

History professor Edward Countryman isn’t so sure the materials do a good job.

“What bothered me is the huge disconnect between all that we’ve learned and what tends to go into the standard story as textbooks tell it,” says Countryman, who teaches at Southern Methodist University near Dallas and reviewed some of the new books.

He thinks the books should include more about slavery and race throughout U.S. history.

“It’s kind of like teaching physics and stopping at Newton without bringing in Einstein, and that sort of thing,” he says.

“The history of the United States is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, and often at the same time,” says Donna Bahorich, the current chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education.

While she admits the state standards didn’t specifically mention important things like Jim Crow laws, she says she’s confident students will still get the full picture of history if teachers, and the new books, fill in the blanks. LISTEN

Alexis McCrossen, History, history of the wristwatch

The Atlantic

Originally Posted: May 27, 2015

On July 9, 1916, The New York Times puzzled over a fashion trend: Europeans were starting to wear bracelets with clocks on them. Time had migrated to the human wrist, and the development required some explaining.

“Until recently,” the paper observed, “the bracelet watch has been looked upon by Americans as more or less of a joke. Vaudeville artists and moving-picture actors have utilized it as a funmaker, as a ‘silly ass’ fad.”

But the wristwatch was a “silly-ass fad” no more. “The telephone and signal service, which play important parts in modern warfare, have made the wearing of watches by soldiers obligatory,” the Times observed, two years into World War I. “The only practical way in which they can wear them is on the wrist, where the time can be ascertained readily, an impossibility with the old style pocket watch.” Improvements in communications technologies had enabled militaries to more precisely coordinate their maneuvers, and coordination required soldiers to discern the time at a glance. Rifling through your pocket for a watch was not advisable in the chaos of the trenches. READ MORE

Seven Dedman College professors receive emeritus status in 2014-15

Congratulations to the following professors who received emeritus status in 2014-2015. The professors, and their dates of service:



Christine Buchanan, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1977-2015




Bradley Kent Carter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1970-2015




Anthony Cortese, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1989-2015


habermanRichard Haberman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1978-2015



Hopkins D11


James K. Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1974-2015




John Ubelaker, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1968-2015




Ben Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1969-2015


Dr. James K. Hopkins, History, Receives Inaugural SMU Second Century Faculty Career Award

Congratulations to Dr. Hopkins, Professor of History, Clements Department of History and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, on receiving the first SMU Second Century Faculty Career Achievement Award. Professor Hopkins’ achievements exemplify a career of outstanding accomplishments in scholarship, teaching and sustained commitment to the University.

Read the official SMU press release.

Read more about Dr. Hopkins.