CSU, Chico News

Ulysses S. Grant Expert to Deliver Annual Cowden Lecture

Date: 10-18-2010

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Robert Tinkler
Department of History

UCLA Professor Joan Waugh will present “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth” as the 10th Annual Joanna Dunlap Cowden Memorial Lecture at 7:30 p.m., October 20 in PAC 134. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Waugh takes a new look at U.S. Grant’s role in realizing emancipation and civil rights. She argues that he deserves to be remembered with as much gratitude as Abraham Lincoln. In fact, said Waugh, Americans once considered Ulysses S. Grant an important historical figure equal to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but by the 1920s his reputation was overshadowed by others. Why has this American hero been largely forgotten? Waugh will address that question in her lecture.

Waugh’s talk is based on her award-winning book “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth.” Like her book, Waugh’s lecture will blend biography and cultural history, highlighting the role of memory in our understanding of American history. Grant’s changing place in public memory, she maintains, closely paralleled the rise and fall of the Union version of the Civil War story. That version gave way to a memory shaped by southern whites that honored courage on both sides and sought to ennoble the Confederates’ “lost cause.”

Robert Tinkler of the CSU, Chico history department said, “As the nation prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War next year, we are very fortunate to have a historian of Professor Waugh’s caliber as our Cowden lecturer. Her insights will help us better understand the ways Americans have thought—and continue to think—about the meaning of the Civil War, our nation’s most violent and socially transforming period.”

The Joanna Dunlap Cowden Memorial Lecture was established in 2001 by family, friends, colleagues and students to honor the memory of the distinguished Department of History professor.

During her 25-year career at CSU, Chico, Cowden specialized in the antebellum and Civil War history of the U.S. She served as chair of the history department, as well as on numerous faculty committees. She was known for her dedication to advancing the life of the mind and for quality teaching.

Previous Cowden lecturers have included Pulitzer Prize winners Daniel Walker Howe of UCLA and James M. McPherson of Princeton University.

Tinkler is coordinating Waugh’s visit to CSU, Chico. For more information, call 530-898-6054.