Kyle Cassidy Visit and Lecture

I’m pretty excited to welcome photographer Kyle Cassidy to campus tomorrow. He’s a well-known photographer and author from Philadelphia who reached out to me and Bret Weber about our man camp project (via Kostis Kourelis!). He’ll be joining us out in the man camps over the weekend for a whirlwind documentation, photography, and adventure trip. (It’s an adventure trip since Richard Rothaus will be joining us.) We see his work as a potentially important contribution to the North Dakota Man Camp Collective.

Kyle will be giving a talk on campus tomorrow at noon in the East Asia Room at the Chester Fritz Library. Since it appeared in the Grand Forks Herald yesterday, it’ll be huge.


Here’s what his talk is on:

Kyle Cassidy talks about the process of visual storytelling, drawing from his published works, photo essays, and gallery shows. He’ll discuss how the medium has changed over the past decade into a much richer environment, how academics and artists can embrace and use this, connect to larger audiences and how the new mechanisms can be used to fund and facilitate research.

Here’s who he is:

Kyle Cassidy has been documenting America since the 1990s. He has photographed mobsters, music subcultures, politicians, dominatrices, scholars, and science fiction fans. His projects have extended abroad to Romania, where he captured the lives of homeless orphans living in sewers; and to Egypt, where he reported on archaeological excavations. His documentary photography book Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes was awarded’s “Best 100 Books of 2007 “Best 10 Art Books of 2007 medals and won rave reviews from both Field and Stream as well as the Washington Post. His most recent book War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces tells the stories of veterans body art. Currently he is working on a book project entitled Where I Write: Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces as well as a collection of portraits of roller derby players.

Here’s who is sponsoring his talk:

Working Group in Digital and New Media and Department of History


Three Upcoming Events in the North Dakota Cold

The next few weeks are going to be pretty hectic around here, but in a good way. There three events with varying degrees of publicity that I want to make know today.

1. Dan Graham’s Rock My Religion. To get us in the mood for Punk Archaeology, I am going to do an informal viewing of Dan Graham’s important 1984 video at noon on February 1st in the Working Group for Digital and New Media’s Lab (203 O’Kelly Hall). The video runs about 50 minutes and we expect some conversation afterward. Bring your lunch.

Kostis blogged about this video way back in 2009 when it was screened again at the MoCA in L.A., the Whitney in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While these screenings featured shows by Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and the Freebies, our showing will not although I can promise an interesting group of cats will be there to talk about it. 

2. Punk Archaeology. The show is on February 2nd in Fargo at the Sidestreet Bar and Grille. The music will begin around 7 pm ish. The roundtable will probably happen around 9ish and more music and merriment will follow. The show, music, knowledge, and conversation are all free. Our plan is to stream the event live over the internets.

We’ve started to get a little positive press. Check out our little announcement in the Fargo Forum, Aaron Barth’s (our producer) interview with Bob Harris on the Mighty KFGO 790 in Fargo, and some good vibes on The Arts Partnership ARTSpulse blog. We’re waiting on the UND or NDSU home page!

3. Kyle Cassidy. It is really exciting to announce that Kyle Cassidy will be visiting North Dakota from February 8th-11th. He’ll be on campus on February 8th and give a talk at noon on February 8th in the East Asia Room of the Chester Fritz Library.

He is probably best known for his 2007 Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes (Krause 2007). This past summer he released his second major book this summer: War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces (Schiffer 2012). I have no idea what he’ll be talking about, but I am pretty sure it’ll involve photography.

Bret Weber, Richard Rothaus, and I will be taking Kyle out west to help us continue to think about the  Bakken Oil Patch. We are slowly bringing a group of photographers together who are interested in the strange aesthetics of exploitation on display in the Bakken. This is an exciting project.

The very next weekend, I’m off to my alma mater, the University of Richmond to give a talk. I will deliver a revised version of my venerable Dream Archaeology paper. This paper began as a few hasty meditations during my time at the American School in Athens in 2007 and 2008, became my presidential lecture here at the University of North Dakota in 2009, and I’ll unveil the third version of the paper at my talk at Richmond on February 19th. I’ll have more information on this soon.

Finally, you might have heard that it’s cold here.


In one of my very few failings of Northern Plains machismo, I started my walk home last night and it was about -17 with a windchill approaching -40. I got about a kilometer into my walk and began to feel cold. My hands got cold and my feet got cold. It seemed like some discretion might be in order and I requested extraction. (Over this same time my iPhone battery dropped from 90% to 72%.) 


Two Events for Next Week

There are two great events next week that all my colleagues in North Dakotaland should mark on their calendars.

On Tuesday, April 10th at the Firehall Theatre, the University of North Dakota’s Working Group in Digital and New Media will have its first showcase. This will feature digital and new media works. The event starts at 6:30 pm with some lovely Latin American dishes and some adult beverages.

The center piece of the evening will be a short Maya language videos (with subtitles!) animated by Joel Jonientz and collected by Paul Worley. The evening will also showcase music by Tim Pasch and Michael Wittgraf, art by Jim Champion, video from Crystal Alberts’ & the Chester Fritz Library’s UND Writers Conference project, as well as a sneak peak of an exciting new video project from Travis Desell in Computer Science and a documentary by Kathy Coudle-King.


On Thursday, April 12th at 4 pm, the Department of History will host Prof. David Silkenat from North Dakota State University. He’ll present the lecture: Driven Away from Home: The American Civil War Considered as a Refugee Crisis in beautiful O’Kelly Hall 228. Here’s his abstract:

The Civil War generated one of the largest refugee crises in American history. Throughout the Confederacy, black and white Southerners fled away from and towards Union lines. Far from home, they found themselves living in refugee camps, without adequate food and shelter, and suffering from homesickness, malnutrition, and epidemic disease. A significantly understudied aspect of the American Civil War, this refugee crisis sheds light on the lived experience of thousands of civilians driven from their homes. One of the most important and distinctive features of the Confederate refugee crisis was its diversity, as Southerners of all races, genders, classes, and political alliances chose or were forced to move as a consequence of the Civil War. Recognizing the importance of these voluntary and involuntary migrations should force us to reconsider how we understand the Confederate home front when so many Southerners experienced the war away from home.


So, if you’re in the Grand Forks Metropolitan area, make a point of stopping by one or both of these events!

For a Brief Musical Interlude…

I usually don’t get all “family-oriented” on this blog, but I have to put in a plug for my little brother Fritz (and it is my blog, so I can do what I want!).  For the last four years he’s run – along with a team of amazing volunteers – the Surf and Song Festival in Ft. Myers, Florida. It’s not so much that he runs a music festival that’s important or interesting, it’s that he created this music festival.

The thing started when he’d get a few of his buddies with local bands together in a parking lot of bar and play music one afternoon. They’d charge some admission and give the money to a local charity. In the three years since that time, this thing has totally blown-up.

Now, it features over 100 bands, national headliners, multiple stages, and it literally takes over downtown Ft. Myers for a weekend. They are raising money for “Navigating Autism” at the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Here’s the poster:

Surf Song Poster 1

And here is the commercial (complete which echotastic voice over):

The coolest thing about this is that my brother isn’t some big festival promoter. He’s just a singer songwriter guy who liked cross-promoting his bands with other local bands. In fact, producing this festival isn’t even his full time job! It’s an amazing example of stone soup in the real world.

So if you’re in South Florida, be sure to check it out!


Some Events and an Awards

The end of the semester is always exciting as projects come to fruition, classes arc toward closure, and friends and colleagues prepare end of the semester festivities.  So, the department of history has two events in the next few weeks.

First some events:

Next Thursday, April 28th, the Department of History will host the 2011 Robert Wilkins lecture. This year it will be Prof. Stephen Aron from UCLA and the Institute for the Study of the American West.  His talk is titled: “The Lessons of Lewis and Clark” and here’s the flyer with the where and when info:


The following Wednesday, May 4, the Department will host Prof. Eric Poehler from the University of Massachusetts.

Pompeii in the 21st Century Flier FINAL

Now some news:

It is exciting to report that University of North Dakota MA Student Danielle Skjelver has been awarded the Daughters of Colonial Wars Historic Research and Preservation Award for her book: Massacre: Daughters of War (Goodwyfe Press 2004). In fact, this is sufficiently exciting, that I’ll abandon my traditional practice and put up an Amazon link. (I got my nice scanned image from the notice here).

Massacre Cover

Teaching Thursday Trifecta

Cross-posted to Teaching Thursday

The next few weeks are pretty exciting ones here at the University of North Dakota.  This spring we have a tremendous trifecta of teaching related activities on campus.

First, Geoffrey Rockwell will be on UND’s campus from March 1-3 for the North Dakota EPSCOR Cyberinfrastructure Conference.  Rockwell is a leader in Digital Humanities from the University of Alberta, and is best known for his work with TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research), which is a leading cloud-based text analysis portal for scholars in the humanities. The most exciting news is that Rockwell will also speak at a OID Box Lunch Seminar on March 1 12:30-1:30 on the topic “Incorporating the Digital into your Humanities Class”.  His visit is supported by an excellent group of bedfellows: UND EPSCOR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), the Office of Instructional Development, and small army of departments and programs (English, History, Communications), and the Working Group in Digital and New Media.

Next, the UND Graduate School is putting on its annual Scholarly Forum at the Memorial Union on March 8-9.  The Scholarly Forum shows off the best in home grown research from faculty and graduate students. It always includes several panels on teaching related matters, and, perhaps more importantly, shows off how closely related the activities of teaching, learning, and research are in the modern academy.  No matter how hard people try to set teaching and research opposite of each other (e.g. consider the recent arguments reiterated in R. Arum and J. Roska’s Academically Adrift (Chicago 2011)), a visit to the Scholarly Forum to see student and faculty research projects reminds us that good research is good teaching.

Finally, the 42nd annual UND Writers Conference convenes March 29-April 2.  Why am I telling you this now?  Well, it’s because their legendary Writers Conference 101 program has begun this past week.  Here’s a link to the Writers Conference page and here’s the schedule with the Writers Conference 101 Program.

All Writers Conference 101 Sessions will be held at the UND Bookstore – Cafe on Sundays from 2:00-3:30.

  • Feb. 6th – Discussion on the work of Carl Phillips with Heidi Czerwiec, Associate Professor of English/Co-Director UND Writers Conference.
  • Feb. 13th – Discussion on the work of Maxine Hong Kingston with Colleen Berry, Assistant Professor of Chinese.
  • Feb. 20th – Discussion on the work of Loida Maritza Pérez with Kathleen Coudle-King, Senior Lecturer of English, and Lorenzo Serna.
  • Feb. 27th – Discussion on the works of Jamaica Kincaid with Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, Associate Professor of English.
  • Mar. 6th – Discussion of Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace with Sheryl O’Donnell, Professor of English, and Hugh Grindberg.
  • Mar. 20th – Discussion on the works of Susan Deer Cloud with Sheryl O’Donnell, Professor of English.