Pulitzer Prize winning author/historian to speak at UW-River Falls

March 16, 2017-- Award-winning author Elizabeth Fenn headlines a series of events March 28-30 hosted by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls as part of the annual Walker D. and Helen Bryant Wyman Visiting Professorship in History program. Fenn will present two free public lectures and a discussion as part of the event.

Fenn, Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Professor of Western American History and chair, Department of History, at the University of Colorado Boulder, will present her lecture, "Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82," on Tuesday, March 28. A public reception will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Kinnickinnic River Theater of the University Center, followed by the lecture at 4:30 p.m.

Based on her book of the same title, Fenn will tell the gruesome, riveting story of smallpox during the era of the American Revolution. A terrible epidemic ravaged North America in these years, influencing the Revolutionary War, dashing the dreams of freedom-loving African Americans, and wreaking havoc on Native Americans across the continent.

On Wednesday, March 29, Fenn will present "Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People" at 6:30 p.m. at the River Falls Public Library, 140 Union St., River Falls. A public reception will precede the lecture at 5:30 p.m.

Derived from her Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Encounters at the Heart of the World," the illustrated slide-lecture will tell the story of North Dakota's Mandan Indians who, famous for hosting Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804-05, fought hard to survive epidemics of smallpox, whooping cough, and Norway rat invasions. In addition to the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for History, the book also won the 2015 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, the 2015 Colorado Book Award in History, and the 2015 Albert J. Beveridge Award.

Fenn will also lead a roundtable discussion of "Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of Mandan People" on Thursday, March 30, at 2 p.m in the Davee Library breezeway on campus. A 1:30 p.m. reception will precede the discussion.

All events are free and open to the public. Fenn's books are available at

To learn more about the Wyman Visiting Professorship in History, as well as the Wyman legacy at UW-River Falls, visit

For more information, call the UW-River Falls History and Philosophy Department at 715-425-3164.

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