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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors and Historians to Headline OU “Teach-In on the Western Frontier”

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors and Historians to Headline OU “Teach-In on the Western Frontier”




NORMAN — Pulitzer Prize-winning historians and authors Alan Taylor and Timothy Egan will headline the University of Oklahoma’s “Teach-In on The Western Frontier,” set for Monday, March 9, on OU’s Norman campus. They will be joined by four additional leading historians who will share their perspectives on this era in American history during the daylong events, which is open to the public.

“There is no more appropriate way to honor the 125th anniversary of the University of Oklahoma than by the presentation of this special learning experience about our nation’s westward movement,” said OU President David L. Boren. “It is a rare opportunity for Oklahomans to hear directly from some of the nation’s greatest historians in the field.”

Taylor will speak at dinner on “Fear, War and American Expansion, 1803-1821.” Over the course of his career, Taylor has become known as one of the leading storytellers of early American life. He is the author of seven books, including The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, which won the Pulitzer Prize for American History in 2014 and the Merle Curti Prize for Social History. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for American History in 1996 for his book William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, which also received the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes. He has served as the faculty adviser for the California State Social Science and History Project, which provides curriculum support and professional development for K-12 teachers in history and social studies. In 2002, he won the University of California at Davis Award for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement and the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association Teaching Excellence Award. In August 2014, he became the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.

Egan, who will speak at lunch on the topic of “The Worst Hard Time,” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, historian and author. He was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that wrote the series How Race Is Lived in America. Egan is the author of several books, including The Big Burn – Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2009 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, which won the 2006 National Book Award for nonfiction. Egan is featured prominently in Ken Burns’ acclaimed 2012 film, The Dust Bowl. His weekly online column for The New York Times – the “Opinionator” – is consistently among the most read pieces on the site.

The Teach-In will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St., with the first talk, “The Great Coincidence: The California Gold Rush and the Re-Making of America” by Elliott West, who has authored seven books, including The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story and The Essential West. The Last Indian War is one of three of his books to receive the Wrangler Award of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and one of two to win the Western History Association’s Caughey Prize, both given to the year’s outstanding work in western history. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas.

The next session will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the subject of “Water in the West” by Patricia Limerick, the author of Desert Passages and The Legacy of Conquest, as well as A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water, a history of water in Denver. Limerick also has served as a guest columnist for The New York Times and is an op-ed columnist for The Denver Post. She is a professor of history at the University of Colorado.

The luncheon will feature an address on “The Worst Hard Time” by Egan.

The afternoon sessions, which will be in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in Catlett Music Center, will begin at 2 p.m. and feature Peter Kastor, a historian specializing in the politics and culture of the early American republic, who will speak on “Oklahoma, the West and the World.” He is the author or editor of six books, including 2011’s William Clark’s World: Describing America in an Age of Unknowns. He is a professor of history and American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

The next session will begin at 3 p.m. for a talk titled “American West” by Richard White, author of five books, including The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republic in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, which was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize. He is a professor of American history at Stanford University.

A panel discussion moderated by Kyle Harper, interim Senior Vice President and Provost and director of OU’s Institute for American Constitutional Heritage, will be held at 4 p.m. and will feature all of the day’s speakers, including Taylor and Egan.

The event will conclude with a dinner featuring an address by Taylor on “Fear, War and American Expansion, 1803-1821.”

Reservations are required for all sessions. For more information and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Office of Public Affairs at (405) 325-3784 or email For information regarding the Teach-In and a complete schedule of events, please visit the website at

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