Colonnade Lecture Series: Spring 2010

Dr. Jon Kukla: John Adams Plays Mid-Wife to “the Child Independence”

March 18th, 2010, 7:00 PM-Colonnade Club Solarium

Historian Jon Kukla, a native of Wisconsin, accepted his B.A. from Carthage College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He directed historical research and publishing at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, from 1973 through 1990, edited Virginia Cavalcade for a few years, and dabbled in documentary editing, historic preservation, archaeology, and public history. Kukla spent the next decade in the French Quarter, adding museum exhibits, historic building renovation, and some television to his bag of tricks as curator of collections and director of the Historic New Orleans Collection from 1990 to 1998. He returned to the Old Dominion in 2000 as director of the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation in Charlotte County, a position he held until 2007. Kukla now resides in Richmond, where he is working on a book tentatively titled Treason! Treason! Patrick Henry’s Road toward Revolution.

Dr. Dan Thorp: “Lewis and Clark, an American Journey”

April 1st, 2010, 7:00 PM-Colonnade Club Library (Pavilion VII, West Lawn)

Daniel Thorp was born in North Carolina but grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.   He returned to North Carolina after high school and entered Davidson College, from which he was graduated in 1976.  While at Davidson, Mr. Thorp spent his summers as a guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park — an experience that showed him it WAS possible to make money as an historian; so after graduation he went on to graduate work in Colonial American history and earned both a masters and doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Thorp began his teaching career as a visiting instructor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and then spent three years at East Carolina University.  He returned to Virginia Tech in 1986, however, and has taught there ever since, earning university awards both for teaching and undergraduate advising.  He is currently an Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History.  He has also taught at Sunderland University, in England, and spent six months as a Fulbright Scholar in Wellington, New Zealand.

Throughout his career, Mr. Thorp’s central research interest has been the process by which European explorers and colonizers interacted with new peoples and new environments.  He is the author of a number of articles on a range of topics in eighteenth and nineteenth-century American history and two books: The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina and Lewis & Clark: An American Journey.  He has also written about early European experiences in New Zealand and New France and is currently working on a book-length study of Indian-White relations in seventeenth-century Acadia (what are now Maine and Maritime Canada).

Mr. Thorp’s teaching spans the history of the United States.  Though trained as a colonial historian, he often teaches introductory surveys of the history of the United States.  For several years he has been working with colleagues at Virginia Tech to make these large survey classes a better learning environment for their students through the use of computers.  These efforts have been supported by grants from the university and from the National Endowment for the Humanities and contributed to the completion of the Digital History Reader, which recently received the Virginia Tech’s XCaliber Award for technology-assisted teaching and learning.

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