Meet KU's Authors
This new speaker series, launched in partnership with the Lawrence Public Library, features KU faculty giving short talks about books that they have recently published. The authors take us behind the curtain to explain why they embarked on these projects, what they found, and why their projects matter.
Richard Godbeer: World of Trouble
Richard Godbeer is the Director of the Hall Center for the Humanities and Charles W. Battey Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Kansas. In his latest book World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family's Journey Through the American Revolution, Godbeer presents a richly layered and intimate account of the American Revolution as experienced by a Philadelphia Quaker couple, Elizabeth Drinker and the merchant Henry Drinker, who barely survived the unique perils that Quakers faced during that conflict. Spanning a half‑century before, during, and after the war, this gripping narrative illuminates the Revolution's darker side as patriots vilified, threatened, and in some cases killed pacifist Quakers as alleged enemies of the revolutionary cause. Amid chaos and danger, the Drinkers tried as best they could to keep their family and faith intact. Through one couple's story, Godbeer opens a window on a uniquely turbulent period of American history, uncovers the domestic, social, and religious lives of Quakers in the late eighteenth century, and situates their experience in the context of transatlantic culture and trade. A master storyteller takes his readers on a moving journey they will never forget.
Laura Mielke: Provocative Eloquence
Laura Mielke is the Dean’s Professor of English at the University of Kansas, and her research focuses on the intersection of literature, politics, and performance in America before the 20th century. In her new book, Provocative Eloquence: Theater, Violence, and Antislavery Speech in the Antebellum United States, Mielke recounts how the theater, long an arena for heightened eloquence and physical contest, proved terribly relevant in the lead up to the Civil War. In the mid-19th century, rhetoric surrounding slavery was permeated by violence. Slavery’s defenders often used brute force to suppress opponents, and even those abolitionists dedicated to pacifism drew upon visions of widespread destruction. As anti-slavery speech and open conflict intertwined, the nation became a stage.
Randal Fuller: The Book That Changed America
Randall Fuller is the Herman Melville Distinguished Professor of American Literature at the University of Kansas. Throughout its history, America has been torn by debates over ideals and beliefs. Randall Fuller takes us to a turning point, in 1860, with the story of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species influence on American intellectuals, who seized on the book’s assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition. Darwin’s depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war. Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion.