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History Seminar Fall 2009 Schedule

December 2, 2009

Bring Out Your Dead! The Black Death and its Impact on Western History

By Teri Balkenende, History Instructor

The initial symptoms were relatively mild: high fevers, headaches, joint pains, nausea, and vomiting. More alarming afflictions appeared as the disease progressed, however, as purple and black swellings resembling large blisters began to form under the armpit, in the groin, or on the neck. Small red patches on the skin quickly morphed into large black blotches—the visible evidence that the victim’s skin was decaying away, even while the person was still alive. The smell of the rotting flesh was atrocious, but the pain was even worse. Many victims, in fact, are believed to have died not from the illness itself, but from heart attacks caused by the pain. Depending on the strain of the disease, mortality rates ranged from 70 to 100 percent, with most victims dying within a week.

Swine flu? Fortunately no—these were the symptoms of the Bubonic Plague or Black Death of the 15th century. One of the most devastating epidemics in human history, the Black Death claimed anywhere between 30-70% of the European population and dramatically impacted the cultural, religious, and economic life of the western world for generations.

Could it happen again? Does the history of the Black Death offer any lessons for us and our efforts to ward off epidemic diseases today? Join us for the last History Seminar of the quarter to find out.

November 18, 2009

China’s Failure to Modernize: A Classic Tale of Failed Autocracy

By Tim Clark, History Instructor

Threatened with losing control of the country in the Age of Imperialism, Chinese scholars attempted to reform China at the turn of the century (1900). The story of why that attempt failed is crucial to understanding the development of modern China. Kang Yu-Wei and the 100 Days Reform are examined with clips from the remarkable film, The Last Emperor of China.

November 4, 2009

"Genocide"

By Tracy Brigham, Instructor, Highline Community College

After the atrocities of World War II, the United Nations recognized the term “genocide” and adopted international law against it. But just what is genocide? How many genocides have occurred (and continue to occur) even after this UN resolution? An estimated 62 million people were killed in genocidal acts in the 20th century. Every time, we heard “never again.” Now, in the 21st century, there are still genocides going on. And still we hear “never again.”

October 28, 2009

A Look Back 100 Years: A Visit to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

By Kathleen Flenniken, Poet, Civil Engineer & Hydrologist

Presented by Kathleen Flenniken, Poet, Civil Engineer & Hydrologist. When her childhood friend’s father died of a radiation-induced illness, poet and former Hanford engineer Kathleen Flenniken began to reevaluate everything she believed about Hanford, her hometown of Richland, the government, and her parents’ legacy. Even her identity. Come hear her tell her story.

October 21, 2009

The Piltdown Man Hoax and "Hesperopithecus," the Pigman from Nebraska: Physical Anthropology's Two Worst Blunders

By Lonnie Somer, Anthropology Instructor

Perhaps one of the greatest scientific hoaxes ever perpetrated, the Piltdown Man specimens fooled most anthropologists for more than 40 years before they were revealed to be fakes. In the 1920s, "Hesperopithecus" was named from a few fragmentary fossils found in Nebraska and was hailed as the first evidence of pre-humans in the Americas. It turned out to be a species of pig.

October 14, 2009

A Look Back 100 Years: A Visit to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

By Stephen Grate, Local Historian

Presented by Stephen Grate, Local Historian. In 1909, Seattle threw its first big party: the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Between June 1 and October 16, some 3.7 million people toured the exhibits. One honored visitor was President William Howard Taft, who had been inaugurated earlier that year. We’ll follow in Taft’s ample wake as he enjoys “Taft Day” and other festivities.

October 7, 2009

The Wizard of Oz

By Tim McMannon, Instructor

“There’s no place like home.” “I’m melting . . . melting . . .” “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Sure, you know all about the Wizard of Oz—at least the movie version, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year. But do you know what historians, economists, and political scientists have said about L. Frank Baum’s original book? What does William Jennings Bryan have to do with it? What in the world is bimetallism? And what’s up with those flying monkeys? We’ll look at The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as allegory and consider some possible symbolism in this “children’s” classic.

September 30, 2009

No-No Boys

By Tarisa Matsumoto-Maxfield, Instructor

Presented by Tarisa Matsumoto-Maxfield, Instructor. Our country was attacked and went to war. Our country assumed some Americans were in league with the enemy. But our country asked them to fight. Most said, “Yes.” A few said, “No.” These few are the No-No Boys.

 


 

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