Kaplan Memorial Lecture Archive


Professor Jeremy Zallen, Lafayette College

"Who Was a Worker?: Manufacturing Illuminants and Rewriting the Boundaries of Labor, 1830-1865”

Date and Time: March 28, 5:00pm  |  Location: Wolf Room, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

We are pleased to announce that this year's Kaplan speaker will be Jeremy Zallen, Associate Professor of History at Lafayette College (Easton, PA). The lecture and discussion will take place on March 28 at 5:00 pm in the Wolf Room at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

Professor Zallen is an expert on histories of slavery, Black freedom struggles, capitalism, labor, and the environment with a focus on the United States and the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. His talk, “Who Was a Worker?: Manufacturing Illuminants and Rewriting the Boundaries of Labor, 1830-1865," will build on research from his first monograph, American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light 1750-1865, published with University of North Carolina Press in 2019.



Professor Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University

"The Need for Strangers: A Story of Love and Loathing."

Date and Time: April 8, 4:30pm  |  Location: Wolf Room, McNeil Center for Early American Studies 

We are pleased to announce that this year's Kaplan speaker will be Jeremy Adelman, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Princeton University. The lecture and discussion will take place on April 8 at 4:30 pm in the Wolf Room at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. 

Professor Adelman has written extensively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin American history, as well as on questions of sovereignty, empire, and the making of nation-states in South America. He will give a talk titled, "The Need for Strangers: A Story of Love and Loathing." His presentation will be based on a forthcoming book tentatively titled “Global Integration and the Need for Strangers," a study of how writers and artists, diplomats and ecologists, have been wrestling with the meaning of global inter-dependence and attitudes to strangers from the 1850s to the present.


Professor Frederick Cooper, NYU

"Decolonizations, Colonizations, and More Decolonizations: The End of Empire in Time and Space."

Date and Time: April 23, 4:30pm  |  Location: College Hall 209 

This year's Kaplan speaker will be Frederick Cooper, Professor of History at New York University. Professor Cooper has written extensively on African history as well as colonialism, world history, and the social sciences more broadly. His most recent book is Citizenship, Inequality, and Difference, a history of citizenship's complex evolution from ancient Rome to the present, published this year by Princeton University.

Professor Cooper's 2019 Kaplan lecture will look at the decolonizations of the mid-20th century in relation to the breakup of colonial empires in the Americas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the wave of colonization that occurred in between these two events. Roquinaldo Ferreira, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania will serve as a respondent and a Q&A session will follow the talk.







Friday, March 30 at 1.30pm - Prof. Hans van de Ven, Prof. Judith Giesberg, and Vanya Eftimova Bellinger 




"War in History: Organized Violence as an Analytic Category"



Location: College Hall 209



This year’s Kaplan panel comprises Prof. Hans van de Ven, Prof. Judith Giesberg, and Vanya Eftimova Bellinger.  

Hans van de Ven, Professor of Modern Chinese History at Cambridge University, is the author of seminal studies of the China theatre of World War II, including China at War: Triumph and Tragedy in the Emergence of the New China, 1937-1945, and the edited volume The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. Judith Giesberg, Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program at Villanova, focuses on women, gender and social history in the Civil War era. Her works include Sex and the Civil War: Soldiers, Pornography, and the Making of American Morality, and Keystone State in Crisis: The Civil War in Pennsylvania. Vanya Eftimova Bellinger is a journalist and currently teaches at the United States Army War College. The author of Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War, her research interests include women in war and politics, and the interplay among society, politics and the military. 



March 1, 2017 at 5pm — Luise White

“Memoirs, Authors, and Histories: Why Oral History is Good to Think With”

LOCATION: College Hall 209

Professor Luise White is the author of almost 40 articles. She has done research in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and archival research in England, Italy, and Belgium. In the course of her research she has moved from women’s history to medical history to political and military history, and from East Africa to Central Africa. Her current project is two-fold, one book on the history of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation and another on Rhodesia’s renegade independence. She is the author of The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago, 1990) which won the Herskovits Prize for the Best Book in African Studies in 1991, Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa (California, 2000), and The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe (Indiana, 2003). She is the co-editor, with David William Cohen and Stephan Miescher, of African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History (Indiana, 2001), and, with Douglas Howland, of The State of Sovereignty: Territories, Laws, Populations(Indiana University Press, 2008).  Her latest book is entitled  Unpopular Sovereignty: Rhodesian Independence and African Decolonization (Chicago, 2015).

March 20, 2017 at 5pm — Jonathon Glassman

Race, Violence, and the Heart of Darkness; Some Lessons from African History

LOCATION: College Hall 209

Abstract: To understand the processes by which discourses of difference became racialized in Africa – in places like Rwanda, Zanzibar, and Darfur – one must rethink standard narratives concerning global histories of race.  And understanding the distinctive forms of violence associated with such processes raises even more uncomfortable challenges, the most difficult of which stem from scholars’ inability to escape the grip that nationalist paradigms continue to hold on historical inquiry.

Jonathon Glassman, professor of history at Northwestern, is the author of two books: Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888, winner of the Herskovits Prize in African studies, and War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar, which won the Klein Prize in African history.  As an undergraduate at Penn, he studied history and anthropology with Lee Cassanelli and Sandra Barnes; Steven Feierman supervised his doctoral work at Wisconsin.


The Stephen Allen Kaplan Memorial Lecture is organized annually by Clio: The Penn History Graduate Student Group. Each year, graduate students in the Department of History nominate a scholar noted for his or her broad appeal and compelling research. The Kaplan Memorial Lecture is intended to engage and bring together students from a variety of fields and discplines related to the study of history.

Featuring: Professor Samuel K. Roberts, Columbia University
Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Associate Professor of History and Sociomedical Sciences 

DATE: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
TIME: 5:00pm
LOCATION: College Hall 209

Bio: Dr. Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr., is Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies, Associate Professor of History and Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences. He writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American history, medical and public health history, urban history, issues of policing and criminal justice, and the history of social movements. His book, Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation (UNC Press, 2009), demonstrates the historical and continuing links between legal and de facto segregation and poor health outcomes. In 2013-14, Dr. Roberts served as the Policy Director of Columbia University’s Justice Initiative, where he coordinated the efforts of several partners to bring attention to the issue of aging and the growing incarcerated elderly population. This work led to the publication of the widely-read landmark report, Aging in Prison Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety. Dr. Roberts currently is researching a book project on the history of drug addiction policy and politics from the 1950s to the present, a period which encompasses the various heroin epidemics between the 1950s and the 1980s, therapeutic communities, radical recovery movements, methadone maintenance treatment, and harm reduction approaches.

For more information, please contact Philip Mogen (phmogen@sas.upenn.edu) or Caitlin Collis (ccollis@sas.upenn.edu).


Professor Lila Corwin Berman, Temple
Professor David Silverman, George Washington University
Professor Jamal J. Elias, UPenn
Comments by Professor Sally Gordon, UPenn
"Taking Religion Seriously" 

DATE: Tuesday, March 24, 2015
TIME: 4:30pm-6:00pm
LOCATION: Class of '78 Pavilion (sixth floor of Van Pelt Library)

The History department at Penn would like to announce the upcoming 2015 Steven Allen Memorial Kaplan Lecture, this year entitled "Taking Religion Seriously." The panel will feature Professors Lila Corwin Berman (Temple), David Silverman (George Washington University), and Jamal J. Elias (Upenn) with comments by Professor Sally Gordon (Upenn). The panelists will speak on how they and their fields of history and religious studies have grappled with religion historically and will present some ideas on what it means to "take religion seriously" and how we might begin to do so. The panel will take place on March 24, 2015 from 4:30-6pm in the Class of '78 Pavilion (sixth floor of Van Pelt Library). The panel promises to be interesting; we hope you can attend.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Geoff Eley, University of Michigan (Modern Germany, Britain, Europe)
Amy Offner, University of Pennsylvania (20th Century U.S. and Latin America)
Andrew Sartori, New York University (Modern South Asia)
Jeffrey Sklansky, University of Illinois Chicago (18th and 19th Century U.S.)

with comments by
Stephanie mcCurry, University of Pennsylvania (19th Century U.S.)
"What's Up With the New History of Capitalism?"

In April 2013, the New York Times published an article entitled “In History Departments, It’s Up with Capitalism.” Based on interviews with scholars from major universities, the article suggested that “after decades of ‘history from below,’ focusing on women, minorities and other marginalized people seizing their destiny, a new generation of scholars is increasingly turning to what, strangely, risked becoming the most marginalized group of all: the bosses, bankers and brokers who run the economy.” Is this an accurate representation of current and past scholarship? If so, is this the best way to understand capitalism? What, then, of 'history from below' and older concepts such as class conflict? How do perspectives from various societies and economic formations challenge this so-called 'new' discipline?
We propose, then, to invite historians of various intellectual backgrounds who work on Latin America, South Asia, Western Europe, and North America in order to think critically and broadly about past histories of capitalism, future possibilities for inquiry, and what, if anything, the 'new history of capitalism' offers for studying different regions in the world. A comparative perspective, we hope, will provide a critical view to assess this recent (and well-publicized) trend.


Wednesday, March 27 

Vincent Brown, Harvard University
Brian Delay, University of California- Berkeley
Eve Troutt Powell, University of Pennsylvania
with comments by
Steve Hahn, University of Pennsylvania
"Resistance from the Margins"

This panel will explore Atlantic slavery in the age of emancipation, Native American raids on the Mexican borderlands, and the lived experience of slaves in Africa. By highlighting both violent and non-violent forms of resistance from groups often deemed “subaltern”, marginal and dispossessed, our speakers will challenge the teleology of familiar historical narratives and question the hegemony of imperial powers. They will grapple with how power and authority operate within deeply unequal societies, and how those structures of dominance can be subverted. Drawing together histories of race, gender, class, violence and empire this panel will demonstrate how we, as scholars, can give agency to the marginalized and access the perspective of groups that often leave few archival records of their own.


Monday, March 19

Adam McKeown, Columbia University 
Cindy Hahamovitch, College of William & Mary
Vanessa Ogle, University of Pennsylvania

"Borders and Borderlands in History" 


Thursday, March 3

Bruce Hall, Duke University
Eve Troutt-Powell, University of Pennsylvania

"Towards an African History of Race: Blackness and Slavery in the Muslim Scholarship of West Africa, c. 1700-1900"

Thursday, March 24

Jeffrey Ostler, University of Oregon
Karl Jacoby, Brown University
Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania

"Histories of Violence: Expansion and Encounter in Nineteenth-Century U.S. History"


Walter Johnson, Harvard University
“The Negro Fever”: Slavery, the South, and the Movement to Re-Open the Atlantic Slave Trade"  

Stephanie McCurry, University of Pennsylvania
"Postscript - Confederate Style" 

Walter Johnson's work focuses on slavery, capitalism, and, increasingly, imperialism. His book, Soul by Soul, used the slave market as a way into the fantasies, fears, negotiations, and violence that characterized American slavery.

Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago
"Title TBA" 

Bruce Cumings' research and teaching focus on modern Korean history, 20th century international history, U.S.-East Asian relations, East Asian political economy,and American foreign relations. He has just completed Dominion From Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power , which will be published by Yale University Press. He is working on a synoptic single-volume study of the origins of the Korean War, and a book on the Northeast Asian political economy.


Geoff Eley, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
"Remembering the Future: Intellectuals, Politics, and the Uses of the Past" 

Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, will be speaking about his recent work on the transition from social history to cultural history to a "history of society." Please refer to his recent book A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society . 


Sven Beckert, Harvard University
"The Empire of Cotton: A Global History" 

Sven Beckert, Professor of American History at Harvard University, specializes in nineteenth-century U.S. history, with especial emphasis on social, economic and transnational history. His The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie, 1850-96 appeared in 2001 to great acclaim, and he is currently working on a global history of cotton during the nineteenth century. 


Ann Laura Stoler, The New School for Social Research
"Love Letters in Colonial Exile: On Intimacy and the Politics of Comparison" 

Ann Laura Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research, will be discussing her forthcoming publication, Love Letters in Colonial Exile. Her lecture will include an examination of the assumptions scholars make when using personal and official archival collections. 


Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra
"Puritan Conquistador: Toward a Pan-American Atlantic History"


George Chauncey
"From Sodomy Laws to Marriage Amendments: Sexual Identity/Politics since 1900" 


Joan Scott
"The Political Representation of Sexual Difference: Le Mouvement pour la parité in late 20th century France"


Carlo Ginzburg
"Latitude, Slaves and the Bible: An Experiment in Microhistory"