Focus

WILL - Focus - December 05, 2012

The Real Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln introduces moviegoers to a different element of the 16th President's character. Behind the myth, he was a political animal. The movie displays Lincoln in his final days, fighting for passage of the 13th Amendment the the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery. It's easy to remember President Lincoln as a larger-than-life figure. But this film reminds us that, while he was a legendary President, he was also a man. And that man started his professional life as an attorney in Central Illinois. We'll discuss Lincoln's time in the region, and the man behind the myth, with Lincoln historian Steve Beckett, Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Advisory Board, and Guy Fraker, author of the book Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency.

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Categories: History

WILL - Focus - November 19, 2012

City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

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(Duration: 51:08)

A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.


WILL - Focus - November 14, 2012

John Quincy Adams

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(Duration: 49:50)

The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams fought for George Washington, served with Abraham Lincoln in Congress, witnessed Bunker Hill, and as a staunch opponent of slavery, foresaw that slavery would lead to civil war between the North and South. He is, in fact, the only major figure in American history who knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. His opposition to slavery inspired John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.  Yet he remains one of the least-known presidents in our nation's history. We'll talk with biographer Harlow Giles Unger about John Qunicy Adams.


WILL - Focus - November 09, 2012

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience

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(Duration: 42:43)

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress commissioned audio recordings of amateur singers and songwriters throughout the United States. These have come to be called "field recordings," and the recordists travelled the country in search of them. Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade tells the story of thirteen of these recordings made across the United States between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Working 18 years on this project, Wade travelled the country, seeking out the original artists, their families or friends present at the recordings and interviewed more than 200 people for the book. Most of the original artists were amateur singers or musicians who were being recorded for the first and only time; many of their famililes were not even aware that the recordings were made. And yet many of the songs have enjoyed long afterlives, influencing musicians and featuring in films. 

Stephen Wade is a musician and writer whose latest album is Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, out on Smithsonian Folkways Records.


WILL - Focus - November 08, 2012

Interview With Historian and Geographer David Harvey

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(Duration: 51:23)

Historian and Geographer David Harvey is a leading theorist in the field of urban studies, whom Library Journal called “one of the most influential geographers of the later twentieth century.”

He is a Distinguished Professor of The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and the author of a number of books. His most recent work is Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution.

David Harvey will give the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities “Revolution” Theme Lecture on November 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium.


WILL - Focus - November 02, 2012

Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color

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(Duration: 51:26)

Living Color investigates the social history of skin color from prehistory to the present, showing how our body’s most visible trait influences our social interactions in profound and complex ways. Nina G. Jablonski begins with the biology and evolution of skin pigmentation, explaining how skin color changed as humans moved around the globe. She explores the relationship between melanin pigment and sunlight, and examines the consequences of rapid migrations, vacations, and other lifestyle choices that can create mismatches between our skin color and our environment. This book explains why skin color has come to be a biological trait with great social meaning— a product of evolution perceived by culture. It considers how we form impressions of others, how we create and use stereotypes, how negative stereotypes about dark skin developed and have played out through history—including being a basis for the transatlantic slave trade. Offering examples of how attitudes about skin color differ in the U.S., Brazil, India, and South Africa, Jablonski suggests that a knowledge of the evolution and social importance of skin color can help eliminate color-based discrimination and racism.


WILL - Focus - October 18, 2012

The European Union’s Nobel Peace Prize

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(Duration: 51:21)

Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Director of Modern Greek Studies, University of Illinois

João Vale de Almeida, The European Union Ambassador to the United States

John McCormick, Professor of European Union Politics, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

Host: Craig Cohen

A number of eyebrows were raised by the decision last week to give this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to The European Union. We’ll learn more about what was behind that decision, and discuss the history, complexity, and potentially challenging future of the European Union, including the fate of the Euro as a common currency, and the viability of economically struggling nations like Greece, with Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Director of Modern Greek Studies at the University of Illinois; John McCormick, Professor of European Union Politics, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis; and João Vale de Almeida, The European Union Ambassador to the United States.


WILL - Focus - October 12, 2012

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 50 Years Later

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(Duration: 51:32)

Timothy McKeown, Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sheldon Stern, Author of The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality and The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis

Host: Craig Cohen

Fifty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and after exhaustive analysis of the events that transpired during a tense 13 day period in the fall of 1962, questions linger about precisely how those events played out. We have the published accounts of many key players, including then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, brother of the President, who recounted his experience in the book Thirteen Days. And a narrative has been woven from that and other accounts – one that presents the Kennedy White House and the military alternately working together and – at times – battling one another, as they sought to address the Cuban and Soviet governments’ secret development of nuclear missile bases in Cuba, which could have been used to strike much of the continental U.S.

We’ll review the events of October 1962 with Political Science Professor Timothy McKeown from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Sheldon Stern, author of The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality.

Categories: History, Military



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