Georgia Regional PAT Conference 2017

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On Saturday, April 1, Reinhardt student Kyle Walker, alumnus Alex Bryant, and Prof. Jonathan Good traveled to Macon to participate in this year’s Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference. Many thanks to Abby Dowling and John Thomas Scott for their hard work in putting together a good one. Mercer last hosted this conference in 2011, and it was a pleasure to return, as the Mercer campus is gorgeous, especially in the spring. The papers I heard were all very good – especially Kyle’s, who spoke of how the domino theory of Communist expansion in southeast Asia was applicable to Indochina only, largely on account of all parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos all having been part of the French empire. Communism did not spread beyond these places because Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, etc. had different histories (i.e., communism and nationalism did not converge there, as it did in Indochina). Plus, the US commitment to containing communism entailed a great deal of support for the non-communist governments of these countries, which helped to protect them from that particular ideology. This was the silver lining of the Viet Nam war – it didn’t prevent the North from taking over the South, and from backing the Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge as they took power, but it did prevent the spread of communism beyond Indochina.

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Kyle Walker ’17 at the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference, Mercer University, April 1, 2017.

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Participants in the “Eastern Front” session: chair Joshua van Lieu (LaGrange College), MiKaylee Smith (LaGrange), Daniel Garrett (LaGrange), Kyle Walker (Reinhardt).

The plenary session at lunch featured a very interesting presentation by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University, professor of history and African-American studies, whose book The Legend of the Black Mecca: Myth, Maxim and the Making of an Olympic City is about to be released by UNC Press. Dr. Hobson’s talk, entitled “Using Hip Hop as History: From the Black New South to the Dirty South,” referenced W.E.B. Dubois, Atlanta’s first black mayor Maynard Jackson, the 1996 Summer Olympics, artists like OutKast and Goodie Mob, the Atlanta Child Murders, and Hobson’s own personal history, to demonstrate how not all African-Americans were uplifted by Jackson’s post-segregation New South.

Georgia Gwinnett College (home of former Reinhardt professor Pat Zander) has agreed to host this conference next year.

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Alex Bryant ’15 and Kyle Walker ’17 flank a Mercer bear.

History People

• Reinhardt history alumnus Alex Bryant is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Follow his journey at Modern Day Mountain Man.

• Congratulations to Wyatt Dean, 2015-16 history program student of the year.

• Congratulations to Associate Professor of History Anne Good on organizing another successful CultureFest on April 13th.

• Jonathan Good, in one of his last acts as Faculty Senate chair, carried the new Reinhardt mace at the inauguration of President Kina Mallard (from 7:52), and gave some words of encouragement (at 29:00).

• Anne Good has received a short-term fellowship for research at the University of Minnesota’s James Ford Bell Library. She will be traveling there in May.

• Anne Good was accepted to participate in a seminar entitled “Sight and Sound in Renaissance and Baroque Europe,” to be held at Atlanta’s High Museum in June. Jonathan Good was accepted to participate in a seminar on the Histories of Herodotus to be held at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC in July. Both of these seminars are sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Panel at the Funk

I was pleased to attend an interdisciplinary panel last night in the Funk Heritage Center entitled “The Etowah River: History, Ecology, Literature.” Organized by Donna Little, professor of English at Reinhardt, it also served as a kick-off event for Reinhardt’s new low-residency Master of Fine Arts program, currently organized around the theme of “Story and Place in the New South.”

The Etowah River begins near Dahlonega, Georgia, flows southwards and then eastwards, passes through Canton (the seat of Cherokee County and seven miles south of Reinhardt), and then joins the Oostanaula at Rome. The resulting river is named the Coosa; this becomes the Alabama River near Montgomery, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.

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Donna Little speaks at the Funk Heritage Center, 4/20/16.

Dr. Little opened the night’s proceedings by showing a map of the area. Nowadays we are used to thinking in terms of I-75 and I-575, the north-south freeways leading to Atlanta, but the Etowah and the Oostanaula run east-west, and that’s the direction that Indians would have been familiar with: thus the Mississippian Etowah Mounds in Cartersville, and New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, which was not in the middle of nowhere in north Georgia, but on the Oostanaula, which was a major thoroughfare.

Speaking of the Cherokee (who, it must be said, were only resident in north Georgia from the 1780s or thereabouts), Dr. Little publicly unveiled a discovery of hers: that during the expulsion of the Cherokee Indians during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, a group of Cherokee actually encamped on what was to become Reinhardt’s campus. Lloyd Marlin’s History of Cherokee County (1932) quotes the now-lost journal of Nathaniel Reinhardt (the father brother of Augustus Reinhardt, who was the co-founder of RU on his family’s land). It reads:

In 1835, Father [i.e. Nathaniel’s father Lewis Reinhardt] bought a tract of land on the old Pinelog Road [i.e. today’s GA-140] some two miles from his mill-place, improved it and in the latter part of 1835 he moved on it.

1838… In the spring many U.S. soldiers were passing through the country for the purpose of collecting and removing the Cherokee Indians to the West. They frequently lodged at night at Father’s Saw old Foekiller, a neighbor Indian, just after he had been arrested by the soldiers, who were carrying him to Fort Buffington. They treated him rather cruelly, which excited my sympathies very much in his favor. The old Indian desired to see father, who solicited better treatment in his behalf. He left all his keys with Father. After the Indians had been collected by the soldiers and started on their final march off, they came near our house the first night and camped, I caught the measles from a soldier who lodged with us that night, and had them severely. One of the neighbors came and stayed the night at Father’s from fear of injury by the Indians.

[Emphasis added. Fort Buffington was thirteen miles from Waleska and the distance is certainly walkable in a day.]

The need for a Trail of Tears monument on Reinhardt’s campus (not just an exhibit at the Funk) is very great.

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Ken Wheeler.

Reinhardt History Professor Kenneth Wheeler followed with a talk on the human relationships along the Etowah River, particularly the gold rush of the 1820s and the antebellum iron industry, both of which were ecologically disastrous. He also mentioned how Reinhardt co-founder John Sharp had promoted a steamboat service between Canton and Rome, and how William Nickerson attempted to dredge the Etowah for gold – although the attempt proved uneconomical, and Nickerson later opened a sawmill. Presumably all these characters will appear in Dr. Wheeler’s upcoming book.

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Keith Ray and Diane Minick.

Keith Ray, adjunct professor of biology at Reinhardt (a Reinhardt graduate and Ph.D. candidate at Auburn), mentioned how the Etowah valley is one of about five or six places in the world which, for the past 100 million years or so, has neither been under water, nor under glaciers. This remarkable stability has produced a vast abundance of plant and animal species. (I had no idea this area was so ecologically diverse.) Environmentalists Joe Cook of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Diane Minick of the Upper Etowah River Alliance spoke of the importance of maintaining this diversity.

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Laurence Stacey.

Laurence Stacey, adjunct professor of English at Reinhardt, ended the evening by reading some haiku.

Phi Alpha Theta Georgia Regional Conference

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Spelman College in Atlanta yesterday hosted the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta conference (the same one hosted by Reinhardt last year). Thanks to Charissa Threat for organizing such a good one. 

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In addition to several excellent student papers (there were thirty-five all told, from students at nine different schools), attendees also enjoyed a tour of Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art by Mora Beachamp-Byrd, visiting scholar of art and art history at Spelman.

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Mora Beauchamp-Byrd and Charissa Threat outside Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art.

The current exhibit, Black Chronicles II, explores the black presence in late nineteenth century Victorian Britain through studio portraiture, including some thirty portraits of The African Choir, which toured Britain between 1891 and 1893, and a selection of popular cartes-de-visite. (One of these made me smile: a Zulu warrior from “Farini’s Friendly Zulus.” “The Great Farini,” né William Leonard Hunt, hails from my hometown of Port Hope, Ontario. He first gained fame as a tightrope walker and later became an African explorer and entertainment promoter. Shane Peacock’s book about him has more detail.)

The keynote address, entitled “Women and Violence in the Grassroots Anti-Abortion Movement in the United States,” was delivered by Karissa Haugeberg of Tulane University. Based on her forthcoming book, it was a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of 1980s-era pro-life activism and the women who participated in it. (We’ve been conditioned to think of abortion opponents as men trying to keep women down, but according to Haugeberg women have always made up a majority of the movement, often for feminist reasons – widespread abortion, they believe, frees men from their responsibilities to the women they impregnate. This fundamental divide over the significance of the sexual revolution – is it empowering, or degrading? – is still not resolved, as one can see in the debate over hook-up culture on campus today.)

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Karissa Haugeberg.

Reinhardt was represented by recent graduate Alex Bryant, whose paper “The New American Revolution: A Brief History of the Internet” sparked quite a bit of discussion afterwards.

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Alexander Bryant.

This is the seventh PAT annual conference I’ve been to. It is always fun, and this one was one of the best.

Georgia General Stores

From Only In Your State (via Reinhardt alumnus Andi Demcellari), a slideshow of “10 charming general stores in Georgia” that will “make you feel nostalgic.” This is especially true for people who have been at Reinhardt for some time; Number 6 is Cline’s Store in Waleska, and the photo features a mural that used to adorn the side of the building which read “Welcome to Waleska, Home of Reinhardt College.” Alas, this mural was a victim of the College being renamed a University in 2010, when the administration paid the owners to whitewash it.

I’m hoping that a new mural can be painted at some point…

Talon Awards Gala

I was pleased to attend my first Talon Awards Gala tonight at the Falany Performing Arts Center, because two history major graduates were honored with Reinhardt’s Ten Under Ten Award, an award that recognizes ten graduates who have found success in their chosen fields within their first decade of graduation. The first is Courtney Byrd ’11, who lives in New York City where she is a project manager for Nervewire, a marketing firm that helps companies stay relevant, competitive and successful.

The second is Will Cody ’08, who arrived at Reinhardt when I did back in 2004. The photo shows us at Will’s graduation. Will went on to receive a master’s in international relations at the University of Edinburgh, and has taught at international schools in Thailand and Kenya.

I was pleased that Jefferson Holt ’05 was also honored. Jeff was a business and sports studies major, but was a founding member of Reinhardt’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. He is now a lawyer in Atlanta.

Sean Mulligan ’05, another founding member of Phi Alpha Theta (and one of the smartest students I’ve ever had) was also in attendance.

Dylan Ellis ’14

Pleased to get a visit from Dylan Ellis, a recent (and recently-married) Reinhardt history graduate, who is currently substitute teaching at Pickens County High School.

Dylan plans to pursue a master’s degree in American history at the University of North Georgia starting this fall. Glad to hear that this Phi Alpha Theta member wishes to continue on “the high paths of history”!

Farewell Dan Audia

History Major Dan Audia ’08 has worked at Reinhardt since 2009, when he joined the Admissions Office; since 2012 he has worked in the Office of Records and Registration. Today was his last day at RU. On Monday he begins a new job at as an Admissions Counselor at Georgia Gwinnett College. We will certainly miss seeing him around campus! Here is a picture of us from Dan’s farewell party just now.

Alumni News

I was most pleased to run into history major Mikle Foster ’06, who is now a general manager at the Laurel Canyon Publix. Here is a photo of him from his undergraduate days.

Mike says that he wouldn’t trade his history major for anything – it certainly prepared him for his current job (which he loves), and was edifying to boot. He also says that he still enjoys the occasional cigar.