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Gerald Sorin: Celebrating 50 Years of History at New Paltz

Thursday, May 5, 2016 • 5 p.m.

Sojourner Truth Library Atrium • SUNY New Paltz

A celebration of 50 years of the work of an American and Jewish historian, writer, intellectual, and university professor

From 1965 through 2016, Gerald Sorin’s work as a contributing member of the history department, university community, and broader New Paltz community has been remarkable. Embodying teaching, research, and service, Dr. Sorin continues to make a mark on history graduates and the community of ideas.

We will be hosting a panel to celebrate his work as a New Paltz professor.

Welcoming remarks by President Donald Christian and Interim Provost Stella Deen.
Introductions by Andrew Evans, Chair of the History Department
Deborah Dash Moore, “Gerald Sorin’s Moral Vision”
Mark Lapping (Class of ’67), “Gerald Sorin and Mentorship”
William Strongin, “Gerald Sorin’s Service to Jewish Studies and the Community”
Gerald Sorin, “Reflections on a Career”

Reception to Follow
R.S.V.P. at provost@newpaltz.edu


Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society and Speaker Series

Dr. Paul Paskoff, Class of '70, on "The Folly of Conventional Wisdom"

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 • 5 p.m.

Jacobson Faculty Tower 1010 • SUNY New Paltz

The evening before the Sorin celebration, the History department will hold its annual reception honoring our students as part of the Phi Alpha Theta honors society induction and speaker series. To further celebrate Gerald Sorin’s 50th anniversary of work on campus and our graduates, we invited a speaker who began his undergraduate career at New Paltz fifty years ago.Paul Paskoff would go on to complete a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and enjoyed a long career as a Professor of American Economic History at Louisiana State University.  He credits his interest in his field to Professor Sorin’s early influence.  We invite you attend this event celebrating our departmental community, our students’ and graduates’ work to develop as historians, and this alumni’s distinguished career and continuing intellectual contributions to American History.

5 p.m. Welcome reception and Induction of new Phi Alpha Theta Members by History Faculty

5:30 p.m. Paul Paskoff, “The Folly of Conventional Wisdom, or New Answers to Some Old Questions about the Civil War”

Abstract: Conventional wisdom about the past is not always reliable.  That, at least, has been my experience in the course of doing historical research and writing.  Three points of historical consensus I’ve encountered are: 1) the federal government played at best only a negligible role in stimulating economic growth before the Civil War; 2) the Civil War visited massive physical destruction upon the South; and 3) the Civil War was a “rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight.”  I must admit that when I began my research into these questions, I subscribed to the conventional wisdom concerning each.  I no longer do.


Can Reading Make You Sick? The History of Pathological Books

A talk by Dr. James Kennaway, Medical Historian at Newcastle University

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 • 3 p.m.

Jacobson Faculty Tower 1010

Reading books might seem like a harmless pastime, but for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there was a huge amount of medical concern about its impact. Serious study could lead to the "diseases of the learned" and novels could, it seems, over-stimulate the minds and nerves of young ladies, leading to immorality, sickness and death. For many years more doctors spent more time writing about this than drug addiction. Come to my talk for a thousand excuses never to do your homework again.