History and Humanities in Response to Crisis: 2021 Pauley Symposium and Rawley Graduate Conference for the Humanities

Join us virtually for a series of roundtables and workshops on October 7-8, 2021 that address the ways in which historians and the humanities have responded to crisis in the past and present. Hosted by the UNL Department of History, the Pauley Lectures Series is an endowed event that features a distinguished lecturer annually and a symposium every third year. The Rawley Graduate Conference for the Humanities is hosted by History Department Graduate Students with generous support this year from the Department of History, the UNL Research Council, and the UNL Faculty Senate.

All sessions will be held virtually and participants can receive a link once they register by clicking on the event links below. Our esteemed panelists will address a broad range of topics drawing from the past year with connections over a broad continuum of history. Their bios can be found at the bottom of this page.

About the Pauley Symposium


Thursday, October 7, 2021

11:00 – 12:30pm | In Sickness & In Health: A COVID-19 Roundtable

Register for the COVID-19 Roundtable


  • Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, Director of UNL’s Humanities in Medicine Program
  • Dr. Jennifer Denetdale, Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico
  • Dr. Jasmine Riviere Marcelin, M.D., UNMC Faculty
  • Vanessa Dominguez, Graduate Student in UNL’s Clinical Psychology Training Program

This roundtable will address the important contributions and critiques of historians, medical practitioners, and social scientists working in response to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021.

12:30 – 2:00pm | Public History Careers for Humanities Scholars

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  • Dr. James F. Brooks, Carl & Sally Gable Distinguished Professor of History, University of Georgia
  • Dr. Rebecca Wingo, Director of Public History & Assistant Professor of History, University of Cincinnati
  • Trevor Jones, CEO/Director of History Nebraska
  • Dr. Kristin L. Ahlberg, Historian and Assistant to the General Editor, Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State

Graduate students seeking professional development as well as interdisciplinary audiences engaged in community-facing scholarship will benefit from this conversation featuring Public Historians who can speak both to the importance of public history in times of crisis, particularly given the renewed and national focus on monuments and statues that convey historical identity and memory, while also offering insights about using humanities training for a broad array of career outcomes.

5:30 – 7:00pm | Distinguished Lecture by Dr. James F. Brooks:
“The Role of Historians & the Humanities in Times of Crisis”

Register for the Keynote

We are excited to have Dr. James F. Brooks as the distinguished lecturer and keynote for the 2021 Rawley Symposium. His scholarship examines moments of humanitarian crisis in the borderlands of what is now Mexico and the United States. He has held leadership positions in several organizations, including most recently the National Council on Public History, that advocate the role of historians and humanities scholars and creatives in assessing national and local pasts and presents. Dr. Brooks is a renowned historian of the US-Mexico borderlands who focuses on Indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and American identities and relationships to tell the story of marginalized people who use relationships and stories to survive colonial-era and ongoing oppression. His scholarship has earned a Bancroft Prize and he has actively facilitated critical community dialogues about the ethics and values invested in public memory and public history, particularly regarding contested narratives and identities. Dr. Brooks is also a renowned mentor who has invested time and resources toward both the diversification of the academy and career diversity for those trained in the academy. His talk explores the potential for mutually-enriching exchanges between academic researchers, local historic site interpreters, and our broader publics.  Brooks illustrates how a single conversation with a docent in La Veta, Colorado, came to inspire research and an array of public history engagements, from San Bernardino, California, to the Cherokee town of Quanassee and an abandoned cotton plantation in Dawson County, Georgia.

Friday, October 8, 2021

11:00 – 12:30pm | Roundtable:
Containing the Spread of Racism: Black Activism in the Past & Present

Register for the Black Activism Roundtable


  • Dr. Ashley Howard, Assistant Professor of History, University of Iowa
  • Preston Love, Jr., Instructor in African American Studies, University of Nebraska Omaha
  • Anna Shavers, J.D., Cline Williams Professor of Law & Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Nebraska College of Law
  • Elodie Galeazzi, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Nebraska History Department

Many pundits and scholars noted that racism emerged as a plague as contagious and life-threatening as COVID in 2020 as police violence and community protests escalated throughout the United States. This roundtable discussion offers audiences an opportunity to consider the past and present moments in which African Americans have organized to contain the spread of racism in the United States.

1:00 – 2:30pm | Roundtable: Community-Engaged Scholarship Addressing Crisis & Renewal

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  • Dr. Alexandra Stern, Associate Dean for the Humanities & Carroll Smith Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan
  • Dr. Dawne Y. Curry, Associate Professor of History, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Dr. Isabel Velázquez, Harold E. Spencer Professor of Modern Languages, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Veronica Duran, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Humanities scholars often conduct engaging and innovative scholarship in collaboration with communities responding to crisis and striving toward renewal. Roundtable participants will discuss their community-engaged work in a broad range of subfields.

3:30 – 5:00pm | Lightning Round of Graduate Students’ Humanities Research

Register for the Graduate Student Lightning Round

This session will include 10 graduate students working in humanities who present their research for 5 minutes each in a lightning round format. Faculty experts will provide condensed and spontaneous feedback for graduate students before the audience is prompted to ask questions of the graduate student panel. This session will help to refine graduate students’ research questions and presentations while providing presenters with an opportunity to expand their scholarly network.


Kristin Ahlberg earned her M.A. (1999) and Ph.D. (2003) from the University of Nebraska, under the direction of Lloyd Ambrosius. As the Assistant to the General Editor in the Office of the Historian, Ahlberg compiles and reviews volumes in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. She is the author of Transplanting the Great Society: Lyndon Johnson and Food for Peace (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2008) and has published articles in Agricultural History, Diplomatic History, Great Plains Quarterly, and The Public Historian. Currently, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Agricultural History Society (AHS), as the co-chair of the National Council on Public History (NCPH) Membership Committee, and as a member of the NCPH Governance Committee. Ahlberg has served on the NCPH Board of Directors, American Historical Association (AHA) Professional Division, Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) Executive Council (and as Vice President, President, and Past President), and The Public Historian Editorial Board.

James F. Brooks, who is also our symposium keynote, has held a number of public history leadership positions including with the National Council for Public History, and has addressed the issue of controversial monuments in a variety of invited talks and publications.

Deirdre Cooper Owens has established national prominence as an expert on medical racism and is the Director of UNL’s Humanities in Medicine Program.

Dawne Y. Curry explores twentieth- and twenty-first century African history with emphasis on South African protest and resistance struggles. She also explores oral history, women and gender studies, comparative black history, and African colonial history.

Jennifer Denetdale is a Dine scholar and critic whose service on the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission provides her with unique insights on the Navajo Nation’s response to the COVID pandemic and the response of tribal nations more broadly to public health crises.

Vanessa Dominguez is a graduate assistant in UNL’s Clinical Psychology Training Program conducting research on Latinx responses to COVID-19 in Nebraska.

Veronica Duran is a Ph.D. candidate whose research interests include race and gender in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, migration, and bilingual education. Her dissertation research focuses on race and gender in bilingual children’s television programming during the late 20th century, particularly on Aida Barrera’s Carrascolendas, a bilingual children’s show produced in Austin during the 1970s. Duran is also a Research Assistant for Nuestras Historias: The Nebraska Latino Heritage Collection at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and the Assistant Managing Editor for the Journal of South Texas.

Elodie Galeazzi is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at UNL working on a dissertation focused on African American media in Omaha, Nebraska over the twentieth century.

Ashley Howard focuses on black activism in the Midwest and has published widely for popular and academic presses to explain and challenge politicized and racialized violence.

Trevor Jones is Executive Director and CEO of History Nebraska. He has worked as a curator, exhibition designer, educator, and digital specialist in museums and universities around the country. He is the co-editor of Active Collections, winner of the National Council on Public History’s 2020 book award. He is a frequent author and presenter on museum practice and historic preservation, but has the most fun writing children’s books about dogs.

Preston Love, Jr., is a prominent leader of the black Omaha community who is an instructor at UNO and who has participated in the Civil Rights movement locally and throughout the United States for nearly half a century.

Jasmine Riviere Marcelin is the Associate Program Director of UNMC’s Internal Medicine Residency who specializes in Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Stewardship.

Law Professor Anna Shavers is a renowned expert in human rights who focuses on questions of citizenship and immigration. She is the Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the Nebraska College of Law. This panel will prompt an interdisciplinary discussion about the role of black activism in our past and present communities and invite reflection on the ways in which our scholarship can promote social justice inquiry.

Alexandra Minna Stern, Ph.D. is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture, History, and Women’s Studies and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan. Most of her research has focused on the uses and misuses of genetics in the United States and Latin America. She is the author of the award-winning Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America which was published in second edition by University of California Press in 2015. She also is author of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), a Choice 2013 Outstanding Academic Title in Health Sciences. Her most recent book, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right is Warping the American Imagination (Beacon Press, 2019) applies the lenses of historical analysis, feminist studies, and critical race studies to deconstruct the core ideas of the far right and white nationalism in the United States. Stern is the PI of the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab, which uses mixed methods to study patterns and experiences of eugenic sterilization in the twentieth-century United States; this research has informed the recently passed reparations bill to compensate survivors of compulsory sterilization in California. Stern has held numerous grants including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institutes of Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Isabel Velázquez examines sociolinguistic variation, Hispanic linguistics, bilingualism and language acquisition, heritage speaker pedagogy, language contact on the U.S./Mexico border, and the role of language in identity formations of US Latin@s. Her current research focuses on linguistic maintenance and loss among Latinx families in the Midwest.

Rebecca S. Wingo is a scholar of the Indigenous and American West, and the Director of Public History at the University of Cincinnati. Wingo’s current projects are a manuscript called Framed: Housing Photography, and Adult Education on the Crow Reservation, and a companion digital repatriation project with tribal elders on the Crow Reservation. Her co-edited volume called Digital Community Engagement won the 2021 Book Award from the National Council on Public History.