Past events

"Controversial Histories"

March - May 2023

What should be taught in history classrooms? Should history education reinforce existing narratives, challenge those narratives, or do something else entirely? Who should decide the answers to these questions: professional educators, elected officials, community members, or the students themselves?

Right now, these and related questions are being hotly debated all across the United States - including here in Iowa - and across the globe. Many countries have legal restrictions on the teaching of history, and several US states are considering such restrictions.

This course invites students into these debates by learning more about what historians actually do. We'll not only consider the debates' long historical roots but also be joined by an exciting group of guest lecturers to look at specific examples from a variety of places and times.

"Insurrection, Impeachment, Inauguration"

March - May 2021
We have just experienced the most tumultuous presidential transition in the history of the United States. How did we get to this historical moment? And how will this history shape the Biden administration and beyond?

Each week we’ll examine a particular aspect of our current crisis. Members of UI’s History faculty and other experts will join us to discuss subjects ranging from the pandemic to racial justice, from international relations to the economy. We’ll follow ongoing developments. And we’ll engage in collaborative work to make sense of the ways History helps us to interpret our world.

Preparation for class meetings, attendance, and active participation will be required. We will track our progress through engagement in group work as well as short response papers.

Sessions on:

  • How We Elect a President
  • Social Policy in Light of COVID-19
  • Violence, Protest, and Social Change
  • White Demographic Decline, White Supremacy, and Immigration
  • Global Health and Epidemics: COVID-19
  • The Climate Crisis and Energy Transition
  • The Far Right in Europe

"Hard Won/Not Done"

March - May 2020
The year 2020 marks the centennial of women’s right to vote in the United States. Passed by Congress in June 1919 and ratified in August 1920, the 19th Amendment enfranchised women by making it illegal to deny women the vote on account of their sex. Join Professor Leslie Schwalm as she facilitates this year's superstar Rapid Response lineup to take an in-depth look at the history and legacy of this hard fought and still incomplete struggle for women’s right to vote.

Questions addressed during the lecture series include: What did it take to win that right, over the active resistance of those who felt women had no place in politics? How did 19th and early 20th century racism impact that struggle? What does that hard-fought movement for women’s full citizenship rights mean for us today? And why do historians assert this struggle is not done?  

In addition to being a history course for University of Iowa students, lectures are also open to the general public. All lectures will take place at the Englert Theater. 

Find more information on the history of the 19th Amendment and other events surrounding the 100th year commemoration on the Hard Won/Not Done website sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Iowa.

  • 3/24/20 - Before the 19th Amendment: Black Women and the Struggle for Civil Rights - The Iowa Colored Conventions Project       
  • 3/31/20 - Uncovering the History of Women’s Suffrage in Iowa - Dr. Kären Mason 
  • 4/7/20 - The Visual Culture of the Women’s Suffrage Movement - Professor Joni Kinsey
  • 4/14/20 - Suffrage and the Roots of the Birth Control Movement - Professor Lina-Maria Murillo
  • 4/21/20 - Black Women and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party - Professor Ashley Howard
  • 4/28/20 - Who Did NOT Want Women to Vote? - Professor Landon Storrs
  • 5/1/20 - The Fight to Elect More Women - Professor Tracy Osborn

"#MeToo: Historical Perspective on Gender and Violence"

March - April 2019
The #MeToo movement continues to make gender-based violence an important topic in America's national conversation. In this iteration of Rapid Response History, our lecturers explored how individuals and societies in both American and world history have understood, experienced, and responded to gender-based violence. We studied gender-based violence from multiple perspectives, considering how individuals and societies in history have perpetrated it, but also how they have experienced, resisted, and responded to it. We also examined how gender-based violence has differed across societies and times. Finally, we reflected on how history can help us understand and respond to gender-based violence in the present.

  • 3/12 - Did Medieval and Early Modern Europeans Really Hunt Witches? - Elizabeth Yale
  • 3/26 - White Supremacy, Sexual Violence, and Black Women’s Fight for Bodily Integrity - Simon Balto
  • 4/2 - Sexual Violence in the Holocaust - Elizabeth Heineman
  • 4/9 - Science and Sexual Comportment in German Colonial Contexts - H. Glenn Penny
  • 4/16 - Exploring the Crisis of Violence Against Indigenous Women - Jacki Thompson Rand
  • 4/23 - Voices of "Comfort Women": Gender, Pacific War, and the Spectacle of Korea-Japan Relations - Alyssa Park
  • 4/30 - Towards Reproductive Justice and Human Rights in the 21st Century - Lina-Maria Murillo

"History of the World: Thinking Climate and Environment"

March-May 2018

  • 3/27 - Indigenous Foodways and Biodiversity - Stephen Warren
  • 4/3 -  Imagining Climate in the Age of Romaniticism - Eric Gidal
  • 4/10 - Who Invented Extinction - Elizabeth Yale
  • 4/17 - Liquid Gold or Fools Gold? Biofues in the US - Silvia Secchi
  • 4/24 - Elephants and Hunters in Africa - James Giblin
  • 5/1 - American Climate Policy from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump - Tyler Priest