Joanne Klein is Professor of History at Boise State University. Growing up in Kirkland, WA, she earned her M.A. at Brandeis University, Boston, and her doctorate at Rice University, Houston. Her research focuses on the everyday life of English police constables with a broader interest in modern British policing. She is the author of Invisible Men: the Secret Lives of Police Constables in Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham, 1900-1939 (2010), as well as numerous articles. She teaches courses in Modern Comparative European History and workshops on Middle Eastern history. She is active in the Criminal Justice/Legal History network of the Social Science History Association, an international consortium of scholars.
Cemeteries are often overlooked as sources of historical information about the experiences of a community and its families. Yet careful analysis of gravestones can reveal changes in family patterns, religious beliefs, life expectancies, naming patterns, and ethnic make-up, as well as the impact of epidemics and wars. The details of poetic inscriptions, styles of carvings, and references to civic groups create a rich picture of the lives of the people of a community as it changes over time. This talk uses a study of a Moravian cemetery in North Carolina as an example of the historical richness of cemeteries, and presents skills that can be used to study any cemetery.
Unlike policemen portrayed in detective fiction, the daily life of English police constables was rarely glamorous. Their work was routine, repetitive, and occasionally farcical, punctuated by emergencies and rescues. This talk uses information from extensive police records to recreate the experiences of ordinary English policemen from 1900-1939, a time when constables still walked their beats looking out for lawbreaking and citizens in distress. Over these four decades, their lives changed, with motor vehicles, telephones and police boxes undermining the traditional beats. Yet despite their humble positions, the "bobbies" defined policing at its most basic level, enforcing the law on their own terms in ways that may have surprised government lawmakers.
Dorothy L. Sayers fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey once remarked, "In detective stories, virtue is always triumphant. They're the purest literature we have." (Strong Poison) British history as portrayed in British mysteries tends to create a rather purified vision of Great Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This idealized picture can be fruitful in showing changing British values. The detective evolved from the scientific, super-human Sherlock Holmes, to the perceptive, perpetually knitting Miss Marple, to the introspective, music connoisseur, Inspector Morse. Police evolved from bumbling incompetents, to helpful allies, to brilliant detectives. Yet a darker side of Britain also emerges from the murder mystery. Mysteries from the 1800s to the present portray a society divided by class prejudices and racism. G.K. Chesterton's Man who Knew Too Much, for example, delivered an anti-Semitic diatribe, and even Agatha Christie included the occasional anti-Semitic aside. This lecture uses the murder mystery as a mirror of British society, exploring both the best and the worst of what British history has to offer.
Contrary to American stereotypes, the veil is not a symbol of repression within Islam. The veil predates Islam by centuries and has been worn by women of many faiths around the world. It has served both practical and symbolic purposes. This talk will explore the role of the veil and Islamic dress for women and men in Middle Eastern and North African history, including the complexities of the veil’s religious, social, and political meanings. It will present a more realistic picture of the purpose of the veil and Islamic dress, including its advantages and disadvantages, within the context of Middle Eastern and North African cultures.
American culture often stereotypes Middle Eastern women either as oppressed, anonymous veiled figures or as the scantily clad harem dancers made popular by Hollywood. Both of these images are based on fundamental misunderstandings of Middle Eastern and Islamic history. The harem made popular in movies never existed, and women often have used the veil as a sign of strength. Middle Eastern women were and are actively engaged in many dimensions of life. From the time of the prophet Muhammad, Middle Eastern women have successfully fought in battles, led religious movements, and resisted colonial powers. Rather than being meek figures, women strode confidently through the streets, managed large estates, and practiced law. Ironically, contact with western political ideology and western popular culture in many cases limited options for Middle Eastern women rather than expanded them. This lecture will help people recognize western stereotypes, many dating back centuries, and reveal Middle Eastern women on their own terms.