Edward N. Peterson Lecture Series

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Past Events

Nov. 7, 2023

  • "'The Land is the Only Thing': Tracing the History of Ojibwe Activism in Northern Wisconsin"
  • Dr. Katrina Phillips, Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Associate Professor of History with a focus on Native history and the history of the American West

Video recording of this event (1 hr., 22 min.)

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

  • Crisis in Ukraine: War and Russia’s Deformed Transition
  • Dr. Thomas Wolfe, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Minnesota; Specialties—History of the USSR, Russia, and the European Union

Presentation summary

More about Dr. Wolfe
Dr. Wolfe's website — Glasnost in Print: The Russian Press in an Age of Political Change
Publicity poster
News release

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019

  • "The Sound of Stalinism: Music and Politics in East Germany and Poland"
  • David Tompkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Director of European Studies, Director of the Center for Global and Regional Studies, Carleton College

Presentation summary:
In the early years of the Cold War, communist officials in Central Europe sought to remake their societies in the Stalinist mold. Music played an crucial role in this attempt to create new socialist citizens. This talk will delve into the music and politics related to the drive to transform the worldviews of Poles and East Germans.

More about Tompkins
Event poster

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018

  • "The Spirit of Memphis: Public Employees and the Dignity of Labor"
  • William P. Jones, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota

Presentation summary:
When Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he was in Memphis, Tenn., to support 1,300 African American sanitation workers who were on strike for what he called “the dignity of labor.” Pointing out that garbage collectors were as critical to public health as doctors, yet paid far less, he asserted; “Whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity, and it is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth.”

Drawing on his research into public employment in the 20th century United States, Jones explains why the work of garbage collectors and other public employees has been devalued and how those workers have mobilized to assert the dignity of their labor. This history is particularly relevant as we face rising economic inequality, debates over the rights of workers, and the growing significance of service work in the 21st century.

About Jones
Event poster
News release

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017

  • "Korean-Japanese Relations, Imperial Nostalgia and Japan's New Right"
  • Louise Young, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Presentation summary:
The outspoken nationalist rhetoric and pugnacious saber rattling of the current Japanese government under Abe Shinzo represents a break with longstanding policy norms. Since defeat in World War II, the Japanese state has kept a low political profile while pursuing economism in relations with Korea and other Asian nations. Abe's changes in educational policy to promote aggressive nationalism, as well as his revision of the constitution to authorize unilateral military action, are both connected to a recent celebration of Japanese of colonialism in Korea. This likewise is a striking shift for a country that after 1945 had largely dealt with the history of its colonial empire by trying to forget it:  an "empire mourned without a tear."

This presentation examines the tensions in relations with South Korea around economic rivalries and the Comfort Women issue that are driving the rise of the new right from the 1990s to the present and explores the significance of nostalgia for the days of empire.

About Louise Young
Event poster
News release

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

  • "Hold Up Your End! Class, Gender, and Ethnicity in U.S. World War I Posters" (In commemoration of the Centennial Anniversary of U.S. Participation in World War I)
  • Jason McDonald, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo.

Presentation summary:
Join the navy! Buy war bonds! Conserve food supplies! The American public was bombarded with messages like these during World War I, mostly via eye-catching posters issued by a host of governmental and voluntary agencies. McDonald explained the origins and impact of this nationwide publicity campaign, the first of its kind organized by the federal government. He also explored some of the key themes and recurring symbolism present in America's war mobilization effort.

About McDonald
Event poster
News release


Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

  • "From Hemisphere to Country: A Genealogy of 'America'"
  • Florencia E. Mallon, Ph.D., Julieta Kirkwood Professor of History, UW-Madison

View full length video - produced by Wisconsin Public Television and UW-Extension

Topic summary
Publicity poster
News release
About the author

Event photos

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014

  • "Time, Space, and China's Tibetan Frontier in the 20th Century"
  • Xiaoyuan Liu, Ph.D., David Dean Professor of East Asian Studies and Professor of History, University of Virginia

Brief biography of Liu
News release

Watch video of this lecture

Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

  • "German Immigrants, Transatlantic Ties, and the Perils of American Pluralism, 1840-1940"
  • Kathleen Neils Conzen, Ph.D., Thomas E. Donnelley Professor Emerita of American History, The University of Chicago

Photos by Kathy Helgeson
News release

Friday, Oct. 26, 2012

Photos by Kathy Helgeson
News release

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

Photos by Jens Gunelson
News release


Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

  • "Human Rights: A Revisionist History from the French Revolution to the Present"
  • Professor Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota

Photos by Jens Gunelson
News release



Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008

Photos by Jens Gunelson
News release



The inaugural event

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007

  • "When 'Never Again' is a Cliché: The Complicated Role of Rescuers in Genocide"
  • Professor Stephen Feinstein, University of Minnesota and UWRF Professor Emeritus

Photos by Jens Gunelson
News release

Stephen Feinstein, Ph.D., (1943-08), emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, directed the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies for ten years. A scholar of Russian and Soviet history, Feinstein began teaching courses on the Holocaust at UW-River Falls. He taught and lectured on issues related to genocide throughout the world; he published numerous articles on holocaust and post-holocaust art, served as a curator for traveling exhibits and co-edited works on artistic memory of the holocaust. His book, "Absence/Presence: Critical Essays on the Artistic Memory of the Holocaust," was published by Syracuse University Press in 2005. The center he established and directed until his death, hosts conferences, sponsors lectures and exhibits, and fosters research and scholarship on the holocaust and genocide.



The lecture series honors the memory of Professor Ed Peterson, who taught at UWRF from 1954 to 2005. It addresses issues that were the focus of Peterson's academic life and are still relevant today: war and peace, abuses and limits of power, the struggle for democracy in the 20th century.

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Contributions may be added to the fund over time. Any questions may be directed to or call 715-425-3164 or UWRF Foundation Office,, 715-425-3505.

Giving opportunities

About the Lecture Series

About Dr. Ed Peterson

Sponsored by UWRF:

  • Edward N. Peterson Lecture Series Endowment
  • History and Philosophy Foundation
  • History and Philosophy Department
  • College of Arts and Sciences