Hall Center For The Humanities


Don Worster
"Nature's Historians: A Conference in Honor of Donald Worster"
Special Events

Sat., Sep. 22, 2012, 9:00am - 5:00pm
RSVP required by September 15 to hallcenter@ku.edu.
Location: Hall Center Conference Hall

Professor Donald Worster has been an amazingly successful mentor of graduate students, and the speakers featured in this conference all studied with Don. Don's students have produced many influential and prize-winning books and articles.  One is a past editor of the journal Environmental History, and one is the journal's editor-elect.  Another heads the Kansas City regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency.  The presenters at this conference now teach at Black Hills State, Boise State, Brandeis, Case Western, Colorado, Delaware, Johnson County Community College, Miami of Ohio, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania State, and Vermont, as well as Renmin University in China and the University of Helsinki.  The papers at the conference focus on what Don's students are working on now -- they offer an introduction to some of the most exciting questions in the field of environmental history.

Professor Donald Worster came to KU in 1989 from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He has also taught at Yale University and the University of Hawaii and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Australian National University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. His most recent book, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, was published by Oxford in 2008 and was named the best work of non-fiction by the Scottish Arts Council and won the Ambassador Award for Biography from the English Speaking Union. Earlier books include A River Running West (2002), The Wealth of Nature (1994), Rivers of Empire (1985), Dust Bowl (1979), and Nature's Economy (1977), which together have won more than a dozen book prizes. He is former president of the American Society for Environmental History and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Over the past two decades he has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central America, as well as throughout North America, and his writings have been translated into six languages. Professor Worster is primarily interested in the emerging field of environmental history-the changing perception of nature, the rise of conservation and environmentalism, and the impact of the natural world on human society.

Morning Session: 9:00–12:00

I. History Takes Place

Kevin Armitage, Miami University of Ohio: "The World is Your (Sewage-Infected) Oyster: Germs and the Limits of Reform in Progressive Era New York"

Jerritt Frank, University of Missouri: "Re-Writing Wrongs: Place, Identity, and History"

Mark Hersey, Mississippi State University: "Look Away! Dixieland: Stories of Land Use, Poverty, Race, and Identity from the Black Belt"

Ted Steinberg, Case Western University: "The Belt Parkway Blues"

II. Environmental History as a Transnational Project

Lisa Brady, Boise State University: "Seeing the Elephant: War, Nature, and History"

Sterling Evans, University of Oklahoma: "The Force of Fiber: Re-Connecting the Philippines with Latin America (and the Rest of the World)"

Shen Hou, Renmin University: "Environmental History in China"

Mikko Saikku, University of Helsinki: "Constructing a Manly Nation through Nature: Landscape and Nationalism in Finland and the United States"

Afternoon Session: 1:30–5:00

III. Present Without Presentism

Jay Antle, Johnson County Community College: "Notes from Bizarroworld: An Academic Historian Blunders into the World of Sustainability."

Brian Black, Pennsylvania State University – Altoona: "Energizing Environmental History"

Karl Brooks, Environmental Protection Agency: "History In Practice: Environmental History's Impact On Environmental Public Policymaking"

Beth Ladow, "Confessions of a Speechwriter"

IV. What's the Big Idea?

Robert Campbell, Black Hills State University: "1984"

Brian Donahue, Brandeis University: "Henry Thoreau, Donald Worster, and Farmers."

Adam Rome, University of Delaware: "Loving Nature and Hating Nature"

Paul Sutter, University of Colorado: "The Unlikely Influence of Milton Whitney, or, Soil Science and Soil Conservation from the Progressive Era to the New Deal"

Frank Zelko, University of Vermont: "'A Flower is Your Brother:' Holism, Nature, and the (Non-Ironic) Enchantment of Modernity"

The Nature's Historians conference is sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities, with support from the History Department and the Hall Center's Nature and Culture Seminar.

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