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Penn History Presents: 'Thinking with the Past'


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Professor Daniel K. Richter, University of Pennsylvania
"William Penn and Native Americans"

DATE: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Parkway Central Library, Room 108, 1901 Vine Street, 19103

William Penn is deservedly remembered for his peaceful policies and fair dealings with Native Americans. Those memories of the peaceful founder, however, often make Penn seem an almost other-worldly figure, a saint whose Quaker beliefs set him utterly apart from other Europeans of his violent time and place. But, however admirable he was, William Penn was a human being who was a product of the era in which he lived. This lecture will set Penn’s policies in a broader context and examine how they related to late-17th-century English religious, political, and imperial trends and to the realities of interactions between Native Americans and Europeans in the Delaware Valley when Penn’s colonists arrived in the 1680s.

Daniel K. Richter is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History, the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and Acting Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

This event is free and open to the public.

Please go to to register or call (215) 686-5396.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Professor Ben Nathans, University of Pennsylvania
"To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause: Soviet Dissidents and Human Rights"

DATE: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Parkway Central Library, Room 108, 1901 Vine Street, 19103

How did a small but determined cohort of dissidents inside the Soviet Union find their way to the doctrine of human rights - the world’s first universal ideology - and how did they apply their own brand of containment to Soviet power? Ben Nathans situates the history of the Soviet dissident movement within the larger contest of the Cold War, exploring the role of intellectuals such as Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn along with less well-known figures. With protesters in Russia today searching for a usable past, the legacy of Soviet dissent is taking on new meanings. And not only in Russia: the dissidents’ innovative mode of communication – the uncensored textual world known as samizdat - helps us think historically about the political possibilities of today’s internet and social media.

Benjamin Nathans is the Ronald S. Lauder Endowed Term Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches and writes about Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, modern European Jewish history, and the history of human rights. Nathans edited A Research Guide to Materials on the History of Russian Jewry (19th and Early 20th Centuries) in Selected Archives of the Former Soviet Union [in Russian] (Moscow, 1994) and is the author of Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter With Late Imperial Russia (Berkeley, 2002), which won the Koret Prize in Jewish History, the Vucinich Prize in Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, the Lincoln Prize in Russian History and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in History.

This event is free, but tickets are recommended.

Please go to to register or call (215) 686-5396

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Professor Margo Todd, University of Pennsylvania
"Shakespeare and His Queen"

DATE: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Parkway Central Library, Room 108, 1901 Vine Street, 19103

Shakespeare, as we all know, was a history buff, and he particularly liked the tangled, often bloody history of English kings. What better source for dramatic plots, complex characters, and an abundance of moral lessons? But he wrote nearly all of his history plays during the reign of a queen, and a notably successful one at that. Although she is only mentioned in one of his plays (the co-authored and late Henry VIII), Elizabeth Tudor nonetheless established the context in which he wrote the rest, and her public persona both set the stage for contemporary dramatists and reflected their hopes for England’s peace and prosperity. This lecture will focus on both the queen herself and the visual and poetic propaganda that made her such a useful counterpoint to Shakespeare’s flawed kings.

Margo Todd is a Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, specializing in early modern English and Scottish history and in the culture of Reformed (Calvinist) Protestantism in Britain and early America. Her books include Christian Humanism and the Puritan Social Order, Reformation to Revolution: Politics and Religion in Early Modern England, The Culture of Protestantism in Early Modern Scotland (winner of the Longman-History Today Prize and the Scottish History Book of the Year Award), and most recently an edition of the Kirk Session Books of Perth, 1577-1590.

This event is free, but tickets are recommended.

Please visit to register or call 215-686-5396.