2012 History Lecture Series

PLEASE NOTE: The 2012 History Lecture Series has reached capacity. The first lecture of this series, Maimed at the Start? The "Inevitability" of Unrest in Modern Ireland, was recorded for broadcast by UWTV and will air in Feb. Keep checking this space or visit uwtv.org for further details. Audio recordings of the entire series will be available for purchase from Tree Farm following the final lecture on Jan. 31. Visit www.treefarmtapes.com and search in the American and World History category. Thank you for your interest, and we hope to see you at a future lecture series!

Now in its 36th year, the History Lecture Series remains one of the most popular lifelong learning programs offered to University of Washington alumni and friends.

Join University of Washington Professor of History George Behlmer for a fascinating 3-part series on "Revenge and Reconciliation in Modern Ireland."

The poet W.B. Yeats famously declared, "Great hatred, little room, maimed us at the start." Until very recently, tiny Ireland has loomed large as a fractured land—a land riven by religious, political and economic strife. What made Ireland for at least three centuries the most troubled corner of Western Europe? Why did the spectacular failure of Irish rebellions only harden revolutionary resolve? Was Great Britain in fact the wellspring of Ireland's epic misery? Now that the bullets and bombs have mostly disappeared from the streets of Northern Ireland, has genuine "peace" been achieved there? These are among the vexing questions to be addressed in Professor Behlmer' s lectures as we examine the ways in which competing myths about the Irish past continue to roil the present. (Lecture descriptions below.)

A free reception for UWAA members will be held before the first lecture on January 17 in Kane Hall Room 225. Appetizers, wine and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. Members must register in advance.

All lectures will be held at Kane Hall 130, UW Seattle, from 7 to 9 p.m.


UWAA Members: $20 series pass; $10 individual tickets; FREE 1/17 reception
Non-members: $30 series pass; $12 individual lectures
Current Students: $10 series pass; $5 individual lectures

Lecture Schedule

January 17, 2012
Maimed at the Start? The "Inevitability" of Unrest in Modern Ireland
Was Ireland fated to be a place where violence was the norm rather than the exception? Tellingly, many of the giants of Irish nationalist lore between the 1790s and the early years of the 20th century were Protestants. The Irish freedom struggle was therefore never a monochrome movement, nor was Ireland's Catholic community ever of one mind about the resort to violence in the name of nationhood. Often overlooked in the war of words between "Orange" and "Green" today is the fact that Ireland's modern revolutionary tradition once imagined a united front of Protestants and Catholics in the common quest for Irish freedom. What happened to this progressive ideal?

January 24, 2012
A Terrible Beauty: Physical Sacrifice and Irish Nationhood
Today we are bombarded with claims about "martyrdom" --and with horrific images of so-called martyrs' work. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland was probably awash in more "martyrs" than any other part of the Western world. Where did this confidence in the redemptive force of suffering come from? Ancient Celtic legend, it is true, praised the efficacy individual sacrifice. But the Irish glorification of suffering also had modern (and rarely acknowledged) roots. Furthermore, this lecture will explore the posthumous construction of "martyrdom": it has almost always been the survivors who confer this status.

January 31, 2012
Peace Versus Forgiveness in Northern Ireland Today
Between 1969 and 1998, Northern Ireland, the only part of the island that remains part of Britain, suffered the loss of roughly 3,600 civilians in a vicious dispute over who rightfully "owns" its 1.5 million people. Everyone lost in this barbaric contest, from hard-line Protestant "loyalists," to equally fierce Catholic "republicans," to often perplexed British soldiers. The much-celebrated Good Friday Accord of April 1998 marked what some have called the beginning of the end of civil war in the North. Today, Northern Ireland is generally classified as a "post-conflict society." But what really happens when the shooting stops in a place that has known only mayhem for a generation? Can there be real peace without personal forgiveness? What is the way forward in the six counties of Northern Ireland? And what can the tortuous path toward peace in Ireland suggest about our expectations for healing in other fractured lands?

About Professor Behlmer

George Behlmer is a UW Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Author of three books and several prize-winning articles, he has taught modern British and Irish history at Stanford, Yale, and the University of Washington since 1977. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford, and a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His classroom contributions were recognized with the University of Washington's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1982.

The 2012 History Lecture Series is sponsored by:

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