WW1 and Poetry at Flander’s Field

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

I should have asked by friend Chris,  a published poet and professor of English, to verify my hunch – that there was more poetry written during the First World War (WW1) than any other war.   Authors of virtually every general history of the war I’ve read use poems throughout their narratives; poems to try and convey the emotions of war the impact of the events on the individual; the pain of losing a friend or seeing so many die.  As a rule, a poet connects with those aspects of being human much better than we historians.

Read more from Steve Rubert on ‘Poetry and War’ on his timely blog Exploring World War I in Belgium and The Netherlands.

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New Religious Studies Degree Program

More than 20 years after the religious studies degree program was eliminated, Oregon State University is bringing it back. OSU students will be able to declare religious studies as a major beginning with the upcoming winter term.

The religious studies degree will emphasize religious literacy, helping students understand how religion shapes the world and affects society, said Amy Koehlinger, an assistant professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion in the College of Liberal Arts at OSU.

“Religion is one of the most powerful social, economic and political forces in the world,” she said. “Given how fast globalization is occurring, religious literacy is becoming more and more important.”

Religious studies is the study of religion in an academic setting, with an emphasis on skills such as critical thinking, discernment, deliberation, responsibility, courage and civility. The program will emphasize how religion is used to make sense of the world, in good ways and in bad, Koehlinger said.

“A religious studies major gives students the opportunity to have a deep understanding of religion as a powerful social force,” she said. “Students are trained to think critically and neutrally, and with a lot of subtlety about religion.”

The religious studies program is housed in the School of History, Philosophy and Religion, but faculty members from throughout the College of Liberal Arts will teach courses for the new degree, Koehlinger said. The interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion will include courses in history, philosophy, anthropology, art, literature and film.

One area of emphasis is on the religions of Southeast Asia, including Budhhism, Hinduism and Islam. Associate Professor Stuart Sarbacker is an expert on the religions of India and Associate Professor Hung-Yok Ip is an expert on China.

Another area of emphasis is on religion and ethics as they relate to sexuality, friendship, forgiveness, end-of-life issues, the environment and medicine, said Courtney Campbell, the Hundere Professor in Religion and Culture at OSU.

The new program is well-suited to students who are interested in working internationally, in business, international relations or other fields; it’s also a good choice for students interested in graduate school in law, medicine or politics, Koehlinger said.

Students can earn a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of science or an honors bachelor of arts or science degree in religious studies. A minor in religious studies is also available. The new degrees were approved by the OSU Board of Trustees over the summer, with final approval from the state Higher Education Coordinating Committee, Campbell said.

The 2014 Ideas Matter lecture series sponsored by the Hundere Endowment for Religion and Culture will help showcase and celebrate the new major. The lecture series, titled “Healings and Hurtings: Religion, Self and the Body,” will focus on the connection between religion and the body.

Lectures are scheduled for Oct. 27, Nov. 5, Nov. 10 and Nov. 18. All events are free and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in the Journey Room in the Memorial Union on the OSU campus in Corvallis. For a full listing of speakers and topics, visit http://bit.ly/ZtmVYj.

Story by Michelle Klampe, OSU News and Communications

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Confluences: Our 2014 Newsletter

When two rivers meet, they create a confluence. The merger of one with the other produces a stronger, more dynamic force. Confluences create opportunities for synergy. The editors of this year’s inaugural school newsletter have chosen the name Confluences to reflect the interdisciplinary collaborations made possible by the merger of our disciplines.   Over the past two years, the History and Philosophy Departments have joined together to form a stronger and more dynamic unit: the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion (SHPR).   

Read our latest newsletter in PDF or iBook format by clicking the links below:

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Long Live the King

Louis XIV, who saw himself as the new Alexander the Great, adopted the lion as one of his symbols. Although he didn’t wear a lion skin on his head like Alexander, real and imaginary lions surrounded him.

Lionhead gargoyle, Miletus, 2nd century, Pergamon Museum

Lionhead gargoyle, Miletus, 2nd century, Pergamon Museum

Anita Guerrini presents some wonderful examples of royal lion symbology found at the Pergamon and Neues Museums in Berlin.   You can read the full post here.


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War Against Nature, the Backbone of the South

“You’ve heard the phrase “war is hell.”  But you probably haven’t heard the phrase “war is when you attack agroecosystems.”  It’s a lesser known aphorism of General Sherman’s, to be sure…. But reading Lisa Brady’s book, War Upon the Land, made me wonder how much Sherman understood about what he was doing as he plundered and burned the South during the American Civil War.”

Check out the latest interesting H-Environment Roundtable with Jacob Darwin Hamblin & guest commentators Matthew Dennis, Ann Norton Greene, and Megan Kate Nelson.

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Nature normal, humans awed

“I just found a wonderful cluster of photos purporting to show organic matter embracing and snaking its way through human-built structures.    Among these, I’m not surprised to note, is a shot by yet another photographer of the abandoned Namibian mining village I wrote about a few weeks ago.”

See the images and more from Mina Carson @ Behind the Historian’s Lens



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Environmental History on the Rails

“With summer drawing to a close, I took the opportunity to ride the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Albany, Oregon to Union Station in Los Angeles. I’d never taken the train for such a long trip, 28 hours each way. On such a long trip landscapes pass by, fixed in their space but transient in the rider’s experience. Each moment on the train creates a snapshot of the land. Being a rider is significantly different than being a driver on the interstate – not having to worry about truck traffic frees the mind to wander. As my mind wandered, four snapshots of human interaction with the passing terrain leapt out at me.”

Join History of Science graduate student Joshua McGuffie on a west coast trainride through Environmental History

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