Photo by Lórien MacEnulty
For its 39th biannual Bucksbaum Lecture, Drake University will be welcoming historian Douglas Brinkley to the stage.
He will speak at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 in the Knapp Center. Brinkley, an American author and Rice University professor, has also appeared on CNN as a presidential historian and is known throughout the world for his work.
Brinkley received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in 1982 and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in U.S. diplomatic history from Georgetown University in 1983 and 1989.
Brinkley has received numerous awards, including a Grammy award in 2017 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “Presidential Suit: Eight Variations on Freedom,” a piece he co-produced, and the Humanist of the Year Award by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2014. He has written five New York Times bestsellers in which he follows the history of American environmental conservation.
Every Bucksbaum Lecture is free and open to the public and brings in people from around the community and state each semester.
Bucksbaum lectures occur once every semester and have included speakers ranging from Bill Nye to Magic Johnson in the past.
“It’s a great, free way to get information or learn something new,” said Allison Kaefring, a sophomore at Drake studying anthropology, sociology and English. She attended last semester’s lecture with Clint Smith and Billy Collins.
Founded by Martin Bucksbaum, a longtime member of Drake’s governing board, the lecture series has become a staple of Drake University since Thomas Friedman, American journalist and author, took the stage for the first lecture of the series in 1997.
“I expect that Brinkley will provide us a historic lens to interpret our political era,” said Amahia Mallea, associate professor of history at Drake. “Historical perspective can help us see the ways in which political leadership of our climate is unique or typical.”
Brinkley has written and spoken on a variety of topics ranging from Rosa Parks and Bob Dylan to John Kerry and Hurricane Katrina. He looks into both politics and history as well as the art and culture of the past.
“Given that Drake students average about 20 years of age, they have only experienced a politically and culturally divisive climate,” Mallea said. “It may not be fathomable to a young person that the parties can work together or that congressional policy can be bipartisan, for example.”
Mallea mentioned the recent campus visit by Drake alum and former congressman Neal Smith, who served Iowa as a state and then as a national representative from the 1950s to the 1990s. Politics, said Mallea, were not so dysfunctional in Smith’s time.
“Leaders were willing to cross the aisle for governing and socializing,” she said. “That may seem absurd to young people.”
Gabriella LeFevre, a Drake student who has attended the lectures of Nye and Collins and Smith, plans on attending this semester’s lecture as well.
“History is not something that I’m exposed to often and neither is politics, so I think it’s just going to be really enlightening to be exposed to something that I don’t always have the opportunity to study,” LeFevre said.
Questions about the Bucksbaum Lecture series should be directed to Erica Hartschen at 515-271-4990 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.