New Course Spring 2017: Modern Turkey in the Age of Political Islam and Twitter

modern-turkey-flyer-2

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Ghost Town Revival: Spirits of the West?

Enjoy this post from M.A. graduate student Jen Sundberg, who reflects on some of her research on the old West.

img_2821Ghost Town Revival: The Spirit of the West or the Spirits of the West?

Ghost towns dot the West. Strung across the mountains in Colorado, across the plains in the Dakotas and into the deserts of Arizona, these Ghost Towns have become exceedingly popular tourist attractions. Why though? What is it about these once bustling towns turned piles of wood that draws thousands yearly? Is it their rustic charm or their serene setting? Maybe it’s the thought that the very bar you are drinking your Sarsaparilla at in Tombstone, Arizona was the spot Doc Holliday once sat at, cane in hand, pistol in holster. What is it about these days-gone-by towns that are so intriguing?

When I first arrived in Tombstone, Arizona, I was filled with excitement. As a practicing historian, I couldn’t wait to walk the very streets that Victorian dresses had long ago brushed over, or walk into bars that had seen such murder and mayhem. Tombstone had long ago  been a bustling silver mining town. Ed Schieffelin, an Indian scout and prospector, swore he would find his fortune in Apache country, the area Tombstone now rests. Warned by his cohorts at Fort Huachuca that the only stone he would find would be his tombstone, Schieffelin accepted the risks and did indeed find his fortune. A town sprouted almost overnight and was rightfully named, Tombstone. Although I was itching to see it all- and see it all immediately- there was one place I was most excited to see. It was The Bird Cage Theatre. I had watched a handful of documentaries on the establishment and was incredibly intrigued with it.  I made it a mission to get to Arizona and walk through the doors of that old building. You could say I was ready to see it, I just didn’t know the emotion that would greet me, and not just my own emotion, but the emotion from someone that couldn’t be seen.

The Bird Cage Theatre opened its doors for the first time just one day after Christmas in 1881. For eight years, this establishment remained open twenty-four hours a day, year round. Yes, even on Christmas. The Bird Cage quickly established a reputation as the rowdiest spot in town. The New York Times once explained the Bird Cage as “the Wildest, Wickedest Night Spot, Between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.”[1] This was no exaggeration as the Bird Cage witnessed twenty-six murders within its walls and the unfortunate death of one dog. To date, the bullet hole count in the walls, ceilings and floor are totals over 140. Mixing alcohol, poker and women was never a good thing in the “Wild West.” It was also host to the world’s longest poker game that ran for eight years, five months and three days straight! The buy in for the game was $1,000. Needless to say, these were not your average workers that sat playing this game. When someone failed, a runner would go out in town to pick up another individual willing to pay the price to get a hand in. Although this establishment had its reputation, it also had a reputation of splendor. The wallpaper that framed the walls were hand painted, the shows that graced its stage were some of the best in the West and the girls that entertained the men were said to be some of the most beautiful in town. Quite simply, the brothel/gambling hall/theatre/saloon did not disappoint its patrons. Unfortunately the fun came to an end in 1889. As the mines continued to flood, the town virtually shut down overnight. Groups of people left town, the owners of the Bird Cage decided to board up the windows and doors, leaving everything in its place, confident that they would all return in a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks turned to decades. Tombstone residents in the early twentieth century reported that no one dared walk by the Bird Cage, because when you did, you could hear yelling, laughter and glasses clinking. Seems the town shut down, but the old saloon never really did. It wasn’t until 1934; a group of Tombstone residents created a preservation team and decided to see what lay behind those big wooden doors. To their amazement, everything sat, just as it had been in 1889. It was a time capsule on a very grand scale. To this day, the establishment has remained virtually untouched and for the most part unaltered. A sight to be seen is an understatement.

Fast Forward to June of 2015. I walked through those big wooden doors that so many had done a hundred years ago. As I stood there taking in the scenery, tears began to well up in my eyes. I wondered why I was so emotional but I shrugged it off as a common case of “history nerd-itis.” I was completely lost within my happy place. It didn’t occur to me till that night that the emotion I felt was not only due to the love and passion I have always had for the West but also a direct link to those women who had plied their trade within these walls and suffered so.

That night, I took the ghost tour through the Bird Cage. Sure, we had some questionable things happen; yet I found myself almost mentally and emotionally removed from the crowd and concentrated in a world of the 1880s. I couldn’t help but to think of the women who worked tirelessly here. Then it began, that eerie feeling of someone watching you, following you. Then, the music. It came out of nowhere and everyone heard it. It was the sound of an organ playing an upbeat, Victorian tune.

The following months after my visit to the Bird Cage I did more research into the establishment and the town of Tombstone as well and it dawned on me. This is why people visit. Sure they visit for entertainment, for a fun trip, to see historic sites, but also to reconnect; reconnect to real people who lived, breathed, danced, smiled, cried or died in that very spot you sat. In a society so full of rapid change it is refreshing to dig through the past. And what makes these Ghost Towns the key place to find a reconnection? The spirits that have remained. The ones that witnessed the past, the only ones who can tell us the full story. We seek proof within them and pay money to catch a glimpse of them or to hear them say a few words that let us know they are still around. Day after day, the spirits revive these old dusty towns.  Society misses its past, and the spirits welcome us home when we visit.

[1] “The Bird Cage Theatre,” The Bird Cage Theatre, Accessed November 11, 2016, https://tombstonebirdcage.com.

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Little Pieces of History at the U.S. Olympic Committee Archives

Note: Graduate student Jami Wilson spent the summer working as an intern at the U. S. Olympic Committee Archives in downtown Colorado Springs. Here, she reflects on some of the gems she found in those archives, and why History research so rocks! 

Little Pieces of History: Athlete Memories

Jami Wilson

scenic_usoc_headquarters_555x375_2010I’m sifting through some United States Olympic Committee manuscripts wherein American Olympians (participants in the Olympic Games between the 1960s and the early 2000s) listed their favorite memory about attending the Olympic Games. A few men wrote, “Beating the Russians!” The athletes used the same rhetoric with the same exclamation point at the end every time. They included no additional explanation, as if their statement alone should be understood without lengthy articulation. I can’t find any “Beating the Chinese!” or “Beating the Canadians!” statements. Yet the writers of these anti-Russian sentiments (written in 2004) vary from male athletes who participated in the Games between the 1960s and the early 2000s. There is something here. Why would winning against Russians, specifically, be the most important memory of an American male athlete at the Olympic Games? How might this be more important than winning gold, attending the Opening Ceremony, being on Team USA, or other factors? Last week a salesman at a jerky store here in Colorado Springs ironically mentioned that “the Cold War is heating up again.” Could these “favorite memory” statements, written with the 60s-00s in mind, indicate the Cold War never stopped boiling? Or maybe the fact that athletes wrote these statements in 2004 depicted the political climate of that year–maybe if the U.S. Olympic Committee had asked athletes about their favorite memory in 2010 athletes would have answered differently.

It’s funny how small oddities strike a match in my brain. Something is wrong here, or maybe something is right here. Once ignited, these notions have the capacity to initiate a much larger conversation about history and the place of individuals within it. Where do I, as a self-imposed analyst of these statements, stand in this mess of other’s memories? What biases am I carrying that need to be revealed and discarded? Or best of all, why does this matter? Why is “Beating the Russians!” so striking?

I discover a gem in the pile of “favorite memory” responses. An athlete who participated in the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games stated: “I got on the wrong bus to my event.” Simply put and yet understandably comical. Of all his experiences, he chose being lost, being transported on a clunky, rumbling machine to an unknown destination as representative of his time as an Olympic athlete. I imagine his fear, his anxiety of being on the wrong bus, but whether or not he actually experienced these emotions I cannot know. I’m simply inhabiting his space, attempting to adjust myself on the relatively soft seats and avoiding the light smell of exhaust sneaking through the cracked, rectangular windows of the bus. Maybe he’s laughing because he entered the wrong contraption but I’m heating up, because when I become nervous and unsure, my body responds by blowing its temperature gauge. I’m internally slapping myself for being so incompetent because I tend to attack myself with mental abuse when I do wrong, but the athlete may easily correct his mistake. He may find another bus headed in the right direction. I like experiencing his sentence. His one sentence creates a whole setting, an entire world.

Sentiments like this athlete’s bus mishap reveal humility and make “winning gold” as a favorite moment seem rather boring or obvious. Maybe the word I’m looking for is typical. Athletes typically cherish holding a cool, gold medal in their hand after a long run, not getting lost on a bus on perhaps the most important day in an athlete’s career. I’d rather, however, know about the supposedly unimportant things that happened, the unlikely things someone might mention to family members after a long stream of generalized “this happened and then this happened” statements, but that they wouldn’t necessarily mention to a reporter asking about how making it to the Olympics felt. I want to know who got on the wrong bus at the Olympics and risked missing their event because of an easy miscalculation. But I don’t believe I would have known this was my personal investment in sports history until I read this athlete’s short, human sentence—we may all be potential Olympians because we all have the capacity to get lost on a bus.

I love finding small stories in little pieces of history.

These “favorite memories” weren’t something athletes assumed would be read following the 2004 centennial celebration (2004 marked America’s 100 year involvement in the Olympic Games and thus, the U.S. Olympic Committee asked Athletes about their favorite moments to promote the event). I wasn’t meant to read or know these memories. Yet here I am, organizing statements written with handwriting varying in legibility that reference Russians and buses. These articulations force me to smile, laugh, and cringe. I know in these moments of inquiry History asserts itself as my favorite discipline because it makes me so contextually aware. What is the writer’s context, the event’s context, or the nation’s context here? What is my specific context in relation to these contexts? How am I interpreting these sources? How am I giving them meaning and how are they inherently showing me meaning? I fundamentally believe what matters here is that these memories grip my arm, no, worse, my mind, and pull me into another time that reinforces my own place in the grand narrative of history.

Discovering lives lived resembles finding that last fry at the bottom of a hot, greasy fast-food bag: salty, yet tasteful. I’m never disappointed.

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Talk at UCCS Tuesday Oct. 11th: (Un)Holy Spies: Religion and Espionage in World War II.

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Fountain Fairview Cemetery Annual Tour This Saturday

Fairview Cemetery at Fountain, El Paso County, COFriends of Fountain Fairview Cemetery

presents

5th Annual Historic Tours:

Fountain: The Land of Opportunity

757 South Santa Fe Avenue, Fountain, CO 80817

Saturday, October 1st, 2016
Ticket Prices
Adults $10
Senior Citizens, Students w/adult, and Military $5.00 each
Kids (12 & under) w/adultFREE

Tickets will be for sale at the event or at Fountain City Hall.

Tours depart every 10 minutes from 10:00  AM—2:00 PM.
Contact us at www.facebook.com/FFFCemetery, ksignsasl@gmail.com or 7194334597

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The U.S. and Islamophobia – Events Sept. 19-21 at UCCS

A Front Range University Event Series at UCCS and DU

All events will be held in Kraemer Family Library’s 3rd Floor Apse, beginning at 5 pm and ending at 7 pm. The events are free and refreshments will be provided. Limited seating capacity.

Here is the facebook page for the events, you can follow there as well.


19 September 2016
, UCCS Faculty Panel
Join faculty panelists Dr. Emily Skop (GES and Director of UCCS Global Intercultural Research Center) will be addressing the topic “Refugees 101”, Dr. Jeffrey Scholes (Philosophy and Director of the Center of Religious Diversity and Public Life) will be talking about “Christianity and Islamophobia,” and Dr. Edin Mujkic (School of Public Affairs) will be discussing the topic of “A Muslim Threat: Real or Perceived?”

20 September 2016,
Just Talk Book Club, Ayad Akhtar’s 2012 play Disgraced
Join Dr. Kevin Landis (VAPA/Theatre), Dr. Max Shulman (VAPA/Theatre), and Dr. Carole Woodall (History/WEST) in a lively and engaged discussion as part of Kraemer Family Library’s new programming series Just Talk that is designed to promote open and honest dialogue about equity, diversity, and inclusion on the UCCS campus and beyond.
In this “breathtaking, raw and blistering” Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear. Akhtar’s Disgraced is part of the Denver Performing Arts Center Spring 2017 Season, March 31 – May 7, 2017, Ricketson Theatre. For ticket information, please see the Center’s website, (https://www.denvercenter.org).

Make sure to get a copy of the play in advance. We have 25 copies of the play to be distributed to students via lottery. To be entered in the lottery, you must register for the event.  Faculty, staff, and community members are also encouraged to register so we can plan for total attendance, but are not eligible to receive a free copy of the play. The registration form is available at http://libcal.uccs.edu/event/2775063. Copies of the play may also be requested through the library using the Prospector system: http://prospectorhome.coalliance.org/.  For more information about the Just Talk series, please visithttp://www.uccs.edu/library/justtalk.html.


21 September 2016
, “Overcoming Islamophobia” workshop, led by Catherine Orsborn, Director of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign in Washington, D.C. (http://www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/). The workshop will center on the overlapping issues of Islamophobia, anti-refugee movements, and anti-immigrant sentiments. Ms. Orsborn will lead students, faculty, staff, and community members in recognizing and critiquing pervasive forms of Islamophobia, and will discuss effective interfaith strategies to counter anti-Muslim discourse at the national, regional and local levels. Workshop is hosted by UCCS Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Dialogue – Moving Forward through Violent Times series, #uccsmovingforward.
 
Event Hosts and Sponsors
* UCCS Office of Diversity and Inclusion
* UCCS College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
* UCCS School of Public Affairs
* The UCCS Global Intercultural Research Center (GLINT) is an interdisciplinary unit of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs that supports faculty-sponsored global intercultural scholarship, (http://www.uccs.edu/~glint/).
* The UCCS Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life (http://www.uccs.edu/~rdpl/) aims to foster a healthy and fruitful relationship between the UCCS and the surrounding community on topics related to religious diversity and public life.
* Just Talk is the Kraemer Family Library’s new programming series that is designed to promote open and honest dialogue about equity, diversity, and inclusion on the UCCS campus and beyond, (http://www.uccs.edu/library/justtalk.html).
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Travel Course May-June 2017: Discovering Jane Austen

IMG_2313Departmental Instructor Janet Myers will be leading one of her famous travel classes to England next spring, May 23 to June 6, 2017 — and you get full 3-hour summer course credit. It can be taken for Humanities, History, or English credit.

Sites to be visited on this tour of Jane Austen’s literary and historical worlds include Winchester Cathedral; Chawton Cottage; Chawton Library; Dorchester; Lyme Regis; Tintern Abbey in Wales; Bath; the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and many more!

If interested, the first trip meeting is scheduled for September 14 at 2 p.m., location TBA. Please contact Janet Myers (kpmyers@comcast.net) or Rebecca Posusta (rposusta@uccs.edu) for more information.

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