Bridging Cultures Institute Underway at the Huntington Library

Steven Hindle, Director of Research at the Huntington Library, welcomes faculty members in the first institute, on the Pacific and Pacific World

The first of the AHA’s NEH-sponsored Bridging Cultures in Community Colleges institutes kicked off at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, yesterday. The institute gathers 24 community college faculty members and a half-dozen experts in the history of the Pacific and Pacific worlds to discuss the latest historiography on the subject, and how it might fit into U.S. history survey courses.

The faculty members came from across the country (ranging from Hawaii to Missouri to New York), and reflect a wide variety of institutions and student populations. A few of the faculty members noted in their introductions that their survey courses tend to be rather Turnerian—starting in the East and marching to the West—and appreciated the opportunity to look at the nation’s history from a different direction.

David Igler (Univ. of California, Irvine) in the opening seminar, compared the current moment in the historiography of the Pacific world to the formative period of Atlantic world studies in the early 1990s. He led participants on a masterful tour of the history of the Pacific and the various peoples who traversed it over the past millennia, touching on particular topics and issues that might fit into a survey course.

The institute’s participants pressed Igler on details of the story, engaging in a deep discussion about how countries on all sides of the Pacific Rim interacted through trade networks and other exchanges, and noted a number of challenges in adding this perspective into their courses.

Following the morning seminar, participants adjourned to  tour a Huntington exhibit, “Death, Mourning, and Memory in the Civil War,” and then settled into the collections of the Huntington Library, seeking materials that might enrich and enliven their courses.

The institute, which was organized by William Deverell (Univ. of Southern California), will continue through the rest of the week, with additional seminars covering Hawaii, trade networks, Russian aspirations in the Pacific, and California’s role.

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