You think the current political scene is bad? How about adding President’s Lincoln, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Jackson to the mix. That should make it better, right? If you were in attendance at the History Department’s Dead Presidents’ Debate on October 5th, then you already know the answer: It only makes things messier.
The professors−Grant Madsen, Karen Auman, Matt Mason, and Rich Kimball−truly personified the presidents they were representing: Eisenhower, Lincoln, Jackson, and Roosevelt, respectively. Jackson blustered and said racist remarks; Lincoln parried with him. Roosevelt, ever taciturn, offered smart insults to all. And Eisenhower beat the Nazi’s, which he made sure to tell us in nearly every comment he made.
Edward Stratford acted as moderator. When asked for the impetus behind the event, he answered, “We wanted to create this format to help students understand that the past is the primary dimension that informs our perception of the present.” Did it? Were the presidents able to help us better comprehend the present political debates?
The presidents were asked varying questions regarding Trump and Clinton: their strengths, immigration and economic policies, and whether or not Trump was validated in having hurt feelings. There were varying responses to all, with little agreement- reminiscent of the current political debates (still ongoing even after Trump’s win). In the end though, were Roosevelt, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Jackson able to accurately able to predict our modern political atmosphere? The answer is best seen through History Professor Christopher Jones’ tweet: “This ended up being a lot of fun. But it also helped emphasize just how foreign the past is.”
Dead Queens’ Debate
Continuing in the tradition of the Dead Presidents’ Debate, the Dead Queens’ Debate will be held on March 1st at 7pm in the Varsity Theater. The event is being hosted by both the Women’s Studies and the History Department. Dr. Ed Stratford, who will be playing Professor Stratalacactus, has overseen the resuscitation of four historical queens: Empress Dowager Cixi, (Ching Dynasty) Joan of Arc, Hurrem Sultan, (wife of Suleiman the Magnificent) and Martha Ballard, “‘queen’ of colonial midwifery.” They will be discussing modern problems facing women. Playing the queens will be Dr. Diana Duan, Dr. Christine Isom-Verhaaren, Dr. Sarah Loose, and Dr. Jenny Pulsipher respectively.
When asked what the purpose of the event was, Dr. Stratford replied: “What we are interested in doing is providing a forum where historical viewpoints on current issues can be presented in an engaging way… We hope anyone who attends (students, faculty, or anyone from the community) will enjoy a consideration of [women’s issues] by some figures from the past.”
Joan of Arc was a young girl from France who, during the Hundred Year’s War, led an army and defeated the English many times, most notably at Orleans. Furthermore, she succeeded in having Charles the Seventh crowned king of France. Joan believed God had instructed her to do these things. Several hundred years after her capture and execution at the hands of the English, Joan was Sainted.
Originally a member of Suleiman the Magnificent’s harem, Hurrem Sultan eventually became his wife. She oversaw the construction of universities and mosques and promoted female education
Empress Dowager Cixi ruled China on behalf of her son during the Qing Dynasty. Dubbed The Dragon Lady remained a force in government in the face of endless court strife.
Martha Ballard was an 18th Century midwife from Maine who is primarily known from Laura Thather Ulrich’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Midwife’s Tale. Ballard kept a journal from 1785-1812 that “illuminates the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier.”