Visiting Professor Discusses Animal Rights

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Eastern Connecticut State University welcomed S.P. Morris, a professor at Miami University in Ohio, on Nov. 28 for the final University Hour event of the semester. Morris discussed his latest research surrounding the ethics of interspecies sport, prompting audience members to contemplate the value of non-human life.

Morris began by examining a “second world” humans have created — the world of gaming — where they engage in “voluntary attempts to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” He said that non-human animals are often brought into this second world.

“We make them objects in a game,” he said. “But they are not just objects, they are subjects as well.” Morris explored different ways in which animals are utilized for entertainment, including big-game hunting, whaling and bullfighting. In exploring the issue of ethics, he noted that identifying the motive behind these actions is significant. “This is not about sustenance. This is about culture.”

Morris added: “The human ability to think and reason remains unparalleled.” He raised questions about how much objectification should be considered too much, along with questions of consent when it comes to incorporating animals into sports and games. “Most things exist on a spectrum,” he said. “How do you decide? It depends.”

Morris argued that humans reach for cognitive dissonance — psychological stress experienced by someone who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values — and find it through pretending that animals are less of a subject of a life than they are. “Harm in the context of a game is always optional,” he concluded.

Eastern’s Bergstrom-Lynch Runs in Honor of Domestic Violence Survivors

Despite the rainy weather, thousands of runners participated in the Hot Chocolate Run on Dec. 2, with Eastern’s Cara Bergstrom-Lynch among the top 10 fundraisers event wide.

Written by Raven Dillon

WILLIMANTIC, CT (12/05/2018) Cara Bergstrom-Lynch, sociology professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, participated in a road race on Dec. 2 to honor the late Alyssiah Wiley, an Eastern sophomore who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2013. The Hot Chocolate Run is an annual fundraiser in Northampton, MA, to benefit Safe Passage, an organization dedicated to providing support for victims of domestic violence or relationship abuse.

This year marks the sixth consecutive year that Bergstrom-Lynch has participated in the Hot Chocolate Run to help raise awareness of intimate partner violence. This year, she raised $1,815, making her the 10th highest fundraiser out of a pool of more than 6,300 participants. She has raised more than $8,000 for Safe Passage in the past six years, thanks to the generosity of friends, family and dozens of Eastern faculty, staff and alumni.

Wiley’s murder at the hands of her ex-boyfriend not only impacted Bergstrom-Lynch, but the entire Eastern community. “All of us know someone who has been impacted by intimate partner violence, and many of us have experienced it ourselves,” she said.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence and stalking.

Bergstrom-Lynch hopes to continue honoring Wiley’s memory for years to come at the Hot Chocolate Run. “It’s a wonderful event that raises money to provide peace, safety and justice for survivors of domestic violence,” she said. “I am honored to participate.”

This year’s Hot Chocolate Run raised more than $628,000 for Safe Passage. The organization provides shelters, legal assistance and counseling services for adults and children who have experienced violence in their homes. Since 1977, they’ve helped thousands of women and families achieve safety, build justice, and rebuild their lives in the wake of domestic violence.

For Eastern students who are seeking assistance or support, please contact Eastern’s Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT). Additionally, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) has a 24/7 telephone line at 888-774-2900.

Eastern Professor Patrick Vitale Wins Ashby Prize

Written by Raven Dillon

Patrick Vitale, a geography professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently won the Ashby Prize for the most innovative paper of 2017 in the journal “Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.” Vitale’s article is titled “Making Science Suburban: The Suburbanization of Industrial Research and the Invention of ‘Research Man.'”

The article traces the invention of the modern “tech worker” to an unlikely location: the suburbs of Pittsburgh. In the early 1900s, Pittsburgh’s industrial firms began to move research laboratories away from plants in crowded urban areas and into suburbs.

Vitale explains that workers, scientists and engineers had once worked alongside each other in factories. However, starting in the early 1900s, they increasingly worked in different places, lived in different communities, and began to see themselves and their labor as different. These new “labs” created a geographic and social division between mental and manual work.

“The class, race and gender relations of the suburbs were essential and invisible components of science and engineering,” Vitale writes. “In capitalist economies now and in the past, science and engineering are rooted in injustice, misery and inequality; the very problems they are supposed to solve.”

Westinghouse Research Laboratories (depicted here in the 1940s) is a research firm that fled the urban areas of Greater Pittsburgh for the suburbs.

Industrial firms even created a new title for scientists and engineers – “research men” – and argued that they needed to be isolated from the factory to do their work. “Many of the most prominent industrial scientists in the United States embraced their identity as ‘research men’ to cement their own place within industry and society,” writes Vitale. “Scientists and engineers actively adopted a class position that industry was producing for them.”

Vitale notes: “In the present, when local and state governments are offering billions of dollars to attract technology firms, it is important to realize that these companies are built on inequality and injustice.”

Vitale’s article is a part of a larger research project: a book manuscript titled “The Atomic Capital of the World,” which explores the role of science and engineering in the remaking of Pittsburgh during the Cold War.

Vitale is an urban, economic and historical geographer whose research broadly examines the effects of suburbanization, science and technology, and war on North American cities. He has published his work in academic journals including “The Annals of the Association of American Geographers”; “Journal of Urban History”; and the “International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.”

“Environment and Planning A” is an interdisciplinary journal of economic research. Articles focus on regional restructuring, globalization, inequality and uneven development. The Ashby Prize was established in 1990 and is awarded to the most innovative paper published in the calendar year.

Eastern Music Program to Hold 7 December Performances

The Percussion Ensemble at a prior performance in the Concert Hall.

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/28/2018) The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will host seven programs in early December to enrich the cultural life of the campus and local community. Events will range from holiday concerts to family friendly productions, and will be held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall. Admission for all concerts is free; donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

On Dec. 1 at 2:30, Eastern Opera Workshop and Chamber Singers will collaborate to host “Songs of Hope” in recognition of World AIDS Day.

On Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m., Eastern’s percussion ensembles will collaborate in concert. The Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Percussion Group and World Percussion Ensemble will provide a diverse program of works from Western and non-Western traditions.

On Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern Jazz Ensemble and 3 O’clock Band will present a wonderful evening of jazz. The concert will feature musical arrangements of contemporary popular music as well as classics from the ’30s and ’40s.

On Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern music students will present a concert of chamber repertoire from the Baroque period. The concert will include performances by both instrumentalists and singers enrolled in Chamber Music Repertoire.

On Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m., join the Eastern Concert Band in a celebration of the “Sounds of the Season.” Selections such as “Carol of the Bells,” “A Christmas Festival” and “Rhapsody for Hanukkah” will get audience members in the holiday spirit.

On Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m., faculty members Chris Howard (clarinet) and David Ballena (piano) will present an evening of favorites from the clarinet and piano repertoire as part of the Faculty Recital Series. The evening will feature works by Johannes Brahms.

On Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m., a talented cast of Eastern students, alumni and faculty will collaborate to present “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” This 50-minute opera tells the story of the Magi from the point of view of a young boy, Amahl, and his widowed mother. Eastern’s fully staged and costumed production of this holiday classic captures the child-like excitement and mystery of the season and is great for children and families. Donations of new and unwrapped toys and games will be accepted at the door and donated to a local toy drive.

Written by Jolene Potter

Eastern Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

Demonstrations of Native dancing by members of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes rounded out the Native American Heritage Day of Events on Nov. 13.

Written by Jolene Potter

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/28/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University held several events in commemoration of Native American Heritage Month in November. Events featured prominent figures and speakers from the local Native American community – including internationally acclaimed author and environmental activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe as well as Chief Marilynn Malerba of the local Mohegan Tribe. The celebration also included demonstrations of music, jewelry making and natural medicines.

There are currently 573 tribes recognized by the federal government according to The Bureau of Indian Affairs. All federally recognized tribes are sovereign and self-governing nations that maintain a government-to-government relationship with the United States. Each indigenous nation has a distinct history, language and culture.

Native American Heritage Month serves to educate the public about the challenges faced by Native people currently and historically as well as the ways in which tribal citizens and communities have worked to address these challenges.

There are two federally recognized Native American tribes in Connecticut – the Mashantucket Pequot Nation and the Mohegan Tribe. However, there are several other tribes, bands and communities in Connecticut that don’t have federal recognition, including the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe, Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Tribe and Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation.

Many Native communities are not recognized by the federal government, as obtaining federal recognition requires extensive documentation, which is particularly difficult for the many Native communities that have oral histories with little written down. Without recognition, communities aren’t eligible for certain services and have limited rights to self-governance. The Eastern Pequots lost their federal status on Oct. 12 (Columbus Day), 2005.

Author and activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe spoke with the Eastern community on Oct. 31.

The first event of Native American Heritage Month occurred on Oct. 31 and featured internationally acclaimed author and environmental activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe. LaDuke’s talk, “A Native Perspective: Sustaining Our Land, Recovering the Sacred,” explored how indigenous understandings of land, religion and sacredness influence strategies for a sustainable environment.

The current and historical territorial dispossession of indigenous peoples often goes hand in hand with natural resource exploitation. LaDuke discussed how the exploitation of natural resources threatens Native communities, as well as the necessity for utilizing renewable forms of energy. This exploitation often violates treaty rights, threatens the environment and contributes to climate change.

LaDuke is the executive director of Honor the Earth, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and financial support for indigenous environmental justice. The organization recently played an active role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. LaDuke was also involved in stopping work on the Sandpiper Pipeline in northern Minnesota in 2015.

Eastern hosted Chief Marilynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Malerba is the 18th chief of the Mohegan Tribe and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. Malerba spoke of many issues affecting Native communities throughout the nation including land rights, voting rights, rates of poverty and unemployment, violence – particularly against women and children – suicide, drug and alcohol abuse rates, educational shortcomings and healthcare inadequacies. “American Indian activism is needed now more than ever,” she said.

Chief Marilynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe spoke with the Eastern community on Nov. 7.

Malerba focused on the tendency for Native communities to experience poverty and joblessness. Seventeen percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 27 percent of all self-identified Native Americans and Alaska Natives live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“The living conditions for Natives on reservations are often of poor quality,” said Malerba. “On many reservations the electricity is subpar, plumbing is subpar or nonexistent, the roads need renovating and the homes are overcrowded.” Malerba’s assertions are supported by data from the National Congress of American Indians, which states that 40 percent of Natives who live on reservations are in substandard housing, one-third of homes are overcrowded and less than 16 percent have indoor plumbing.

Eastern Pequot tribal members Natasha Gambrell ’15 and Valerie Gambrell ’77 (both Eastern graduates) spoke on Nov. 13 about the difficulties their tribe experiences with federal recognition.

Also discussed was the shockingly high rates of violence against women and children in Native communities. According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, American Indians are the victims of rape and sexual assault at a rate more than three times higher than that of any other race in the United States. Furthermore, while the majority of survivors of sexual assault are victimized by a family member or intimate partner, American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence committed by a stranger or acquaintance outside of the tribal community, with 70 percent of perpetrators being non-Native. This creates unique challenges for tribal communities in adjudicating cases of sexual assault, leading to lower prosecution and a lack of justice for Native survivors of sexual violence.

Malerba also discussed the massive disparities in health care for Native Americans as compared to the general population. Although Native Americans are able to receive health care through Indian Health Services (IHS), like many other federal agencies that serve Native people, the IHS suffers from a lack of funding. As a result, one in three Natives are uninsured and lacking proper healthcare. According to the Center for Disease Control, Natives suffer from high rates of diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Another epidemic facing Native communities is youth suicide. According to U.S. Census data, suicide is the second most common cause of death for Native youth ages 15 to 24 – two and a half times the national rate for that age group.

“Maintaining a connection with their tribe lowers the suicide rate for indigenous youth, among serving them in other ways,” said Malerba. “The Indian Child Welfare Act is not highly regarded and indigenous children are still being displaced. This contributes greatly to an increased risk of suicide.”

Demonstrations of Native dancing by members of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes rounded out the Native American Heritage Day of Events on Nov. 13.

Malerba also stressed voter suppression as a major issue for Native communities. “Only about two percent of the U.S. population is made up of American Indian and Alaskan Native people,” said Malerba. “We can’t move mountains with elections. We need other people to care about and rally toward Native rights.” Some factors that contribute to voter suppression are lack of official addresses on most reservations and the distance of polling places from reservations.

Malerba ended her informative talk with an important lesson: “Have a large voice when you’re offered a seat at the table. Advocate for what you think is right.”

The month of recognition and celebration continued on Nov. 13 with the “Native American Heritage Day of Events.” Lessons in jewelry design were led by Natasha Gambrell ’15 of the Eastern Pequot Tribe. An interactive program featuring a variety of Native music was also held by Chris Newell, a singer and senior educator of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.

Native American Heritage Month events were co-sponsored by the Intercultural Center, Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Institute of Sustainable Energy and the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work.

 

Eastern Theatre to Present ‘Pluto’ Nov. 28 – Dec. 2.

Written by Sheila RuJoub

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/27/2018) The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Pluto” from Nov. 28-Dec. 2 in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. Written by playwright Steve Yockey and directed by F. Chase Rozelle III, “Pluto” is the second Main Stage production of Eastern’s fall 2018 semester.

The play follows single mother Elizabeth Miller as she attempts to connect with her son Bailey over breakfast, despite his best efforts to avoid her. Meanwhile, a talking dog, an upside-down cherry tree and a violent refrigerator conspire to steer her beyond a reality frozen at 9:30 a.m. – a reality that she may never be ready to face.

“Pluto” poses the idea that things are often not as they seem at first glance, using humor, fantasy and tragedy to tackle a difficult present-day issue. Playwright Steve Yockey is no stranger to addressing fraught social issues through the lens of fantasy, such as his depiction of AIDS as a sea monster in the play “Octopus.”

Director Rozelle, a faculty member in Eastern’s Theatre Program, said his favorite parts of the production process have been “sitting around a table discussing the play’s rich subtext with the members of this team.” He continued, “It’s an important topic and I believe this particular bit of theatre is an excellent way to explore this subject.”

“Pluto” will be presented in the FAIC Proscenium Theater on Nov. 28, 29, 30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 2 at 4:00 p.m. Post-performance talk-back sessions will be held on Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 and offer audience members the opportunity to discuss the play’s themes in further detail with the cast and crew.

Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens; and $20 for the general public.

Please be advised that “Pluto” contains depictions of gun-related violence. For more information, contact the Box Office at (860) 465-5123 or email theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu.

Eastern Opens Arms to Willimantic with Annual Day of Giving

Hurley Hall was the venue for the Day of Giving

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/21/2018) More than 500 local Willimantic residents enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal at the 12th annual Day of Giving at Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 21.

The Day of Giving is a collaboration between Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the Office of Institutional Advancement and Chartwells, Eastern’s food service provider. Turkey and traditional fixings were donated by the ECSU Foundation and Chartwells.

“The majority of the food is donated,” said Joe Salvaggio, senior director of Dining Services. “We start reaching out to our vendors in September and ask what they can do for donations. We have a couple repeat donors that provide to us every year. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ event.”

CCE special events coordinator Sarah Tricarico, who was in charge of organizing student volunteers, commented that the lead-up to the Day of Giving is one of her favorite aspects of the event. She spoke on the importance of weekly food drives and the value of seeing donations go to those in need.

Amberlee Cubanski, the CCE student leader in charge of the event, said: “There are a lot of people who don’t have a hot meal on Thanksgiving. When they come here, there’s no discrimination, no judging. They can just come and have a nice meal. It’s really awesome to see everybody sit together, even if they don’t know who’s at the other end of the table.”

Staff from Chartwells prepared food and decorated the Hurley Hall dining room. More than 50 volunteers from Eastern, as well as a group from Putnam Public

More than 500 members of the Willimantic community showed up for the event.

School, served food, provided free transportation, welcomed guests, ran children’s activities and cleaned up.

Marisol, a member of the Willimantic community, praised the overall quality of the event. “I come every year,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s clean. The people are very polite. The relationship between Eastern and Willimantic is a good relationship.”

Interim Provost William Salka served stuffing at the food line – his first time with the Day of Giving. “People are very thankful, and we’re very happy to see them,” he said. “Eastern benefits so greatly from being in this community, it’s the least that we can do to give back.”

Sabrina Linares, Willimantic resident and Eastern student, highlighted the wholesome atmosphere of the occasion. “I bring my family with me. We get time to bond here.”

Tricarico concluded: “We continue to hold the Day of Giving because there’s need for it. To be able to offer people a good Thanksgiving meal… It’s great that we can provide that.”

Jared Brock Spotlights Life of Abolitionist Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Written by Jordan Corey

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, but few know the story of Josiah Henson, the real-life man who inspired much of the striking anti-slave narrative. On Nov. 14, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted Jared Brock, who has memorialized Henson in film and text.

The event included a partial screening of Brock’s documentary “Josiah,” which accompanies his book “The Road to Dawn: Josiah Henson and the Story That Sparked the Civil War.” A Q&A session concluded the event.

“Josiah” details the compelling history of Henson, who was named by Stowe as one of her sources for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” as he overcame the many plights of slavery to gain his freedom. In the documentary, Henson’s autobiography is used in collaboration with commentary from historical professionals and his living relatives to capture his journey.

Early on it is revealed that a young Henson watched his mother get sexually assaulted by their overseer, followed by his father attempting to defend her and being severely punished for hitting a white man — he was whipped a hundred times and his ear was nailed to a tree, only to be cut off. Henson notes that his father drastically changed, which caused him to be sold and sent away. “This is Josiah Henson’s first memory,” says Brock in the film.

As time progressed for Henson, he witnessed countless traumatizing incidents, from the separation of families during slave auctions to the detrimental

Jared Brock

impact of falling ill. When he became sick, he was traded for horseshoes to a man named Isaac Riley, which reunited him with his mother. Eventually, Henson grew strong and worked his way up to overseer.

He also worked as Riley’s “market man,” dealing with business affairs though he could not read or write at the time. He was known for being deeply compassionate and utilized his position to care for the other slaves.  As Riley’s right hand, however, he took much physical abuse, one day being attacked so badly that he was out of work for months and unable to lift his arms above his head again.

Riley sued Henson’s assailants for “destruction of property” and lost the case because Henson was not allowed to testify. When Riley fell into extreme debt, Henson was forced to travel to Kentucky and transfer all the slaves to Riley’s brother, Amos. From then on, Henson regretted not freeing everybody when he had the opportunity as they passed through Cincinnati.

Once Henson’s mother died on Isaac Riley’s farm, everything that connected him to that place was gone. Determined and put together in appearance, he spoke diligently as a preacher as he traveled between the brothers’ farms to earn enough money to buy his freedom. When he finally became only $100 shy of the price set, Amos Riley increased the amount.

After nearly being driven to murder as a means of escaping such bleak conditions, Henson committed to fleeing with his wife and children. He would have rather died as a slave than as a killer. The trip was dangerous, with an underlying risk of being caught at any moment. The family trekked through woods for weeks and received occasional help from strangers, such as a group of Native Americans who had never seen black people before.

Henson found himself working on a boat, where he managed to secure a ride to Buffalo, NY — his passageway to Canada. When the ship captain left Henson and his family, he asked him, “Are you going to be a good man?” to which he replied, “I will use my freedom well.”

He became free on Oct. 28, 1830. During the rest of his lifetime, Henson rescued 118 enslaved people from the United States, won a medal at the first World’s Fair in London, was invited to Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria and helped start a freeman settlement called Dawn, one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad.

Brock explained that he did extensive research on Henson, visiting his cabin and the Riley plantation in Kentucky, which is still owned by the same descendants. He mentioned that the family had not let anyone visit the premises in 30 years. “They gave me two hours, and I used every second of it.”

He called attention to the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Henson, two key Civil War figures who were “intricately connected” without ever having met. He went on to share that in telling Henson’s story, he had two goals. “I want to reintroduce society to Josiah Henson, and I want to have a conversation about the term ‘Uncle Tom.’”

After the wide popularity of Stowe’s novel, the term was adapted in racist fashions on various platforms, as seen by blackface-centric theater productions, for instance. Brock aims to “redeem” the Uncle Tom character and emphasize Stowe’s initial talking point: the stark inhumanity of slavery and those who support it. That said, Brock has largely been driven by Josiah Henson’s mission for good. “I encourage you to remember to use your freedom well,” he concluded.

Jared Brock has appeared on CBS, CBC and the 700 Club, and has published on Huffington Post, Writer’s Digest, Esquire, Relevant Magazine, Smithsonian.com and Today.com. In addition to directing “Josiah,” he is the director of “Over 18” and “Red Light Green Light.”

 

 

 

History Students Visit Gettysburg National Park

Written by Anne Pappalardo

A group of history students from Eastern visited Gettysburg National Military Park on Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 10-11. Students enrolled in Professor Barbara Tucker’s “Civil War and Reconstruction” course and Professor Thomas Balcerski’s “Antebellum America” course went on the trip. The park is the site of the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg, the event that inspired President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

After an orientation at the museum’s visitor center, the group proceeded to Little Round Top, the site of one of the most well-known Civil War actions at Gettysburg, where Confederate troops waged an unsuccessful assault against Union forces on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.

They also visited Devil’s Den, a section of the Gettysburg battlefield dominated by terrain challenges and intense infantry and artillery fighting. The location is the site where many famous post-battle photographs were taken by well-known Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner.

Wheatfield, often described as the bloodiest square mile of fighting in American history, was another stop on the group’s itinerary. More than 6,000 of 20,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, wounded or captured at the location.

Culp’s Hill, another location the group visited, was a critical part of the Union Army’s defensive line and the scene of fierce fighting. Over 22,000 Americans fought for seven hours under sustained close combat conditions that concluded with Confederate surrender.

“The students and faculty that attended the trip were able to experience one of the most famous theaters of war in United States history, while paying tribute to Connecticut soldiers who died in the Civil War,” said History Department Chair and Professor Joan Meznar. “As they recalled President Abraham Lincoln’s eloquent eulogy to those whose blood had consecrated the battlefield, and whose sacrifice ensured that the states would remain united, they also honored the countless men and women who have offered their all for the cause of freedom in battlefields all over the world.”

The group also paid tribute to various Connecticut regiments that fought in the battle by laying flowers at their respective monuments. They visited the Soldier’s National Cemetery, the site of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” before returning to Eastern.

History Professor Authors Timely Book on Walls

Written by Raven Dillon

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/16/2018) Although they have shaped human civilization, little research has been published about walls. David Frye, a history professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, has changed that with his new book, “Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick.” On Nov. 14, Frye discussed “Walls” at a book talk and signing event with the university community.

“We have histories of water, we have histories of salt, we have dozens of histories of chocolate,” said Frye during his presentation. “What about these walls that no one’s written anything about?”

Even Frye’s own research did not begin with walls, but rather with Roman history, which is his primary field of study. In the process, he dedicated several weeks to researching city layouts and walls, searching how these structures impacted the societies on either side.

While in discussion with a fellow professor, Frye lamented the lack of books or academic research published about walls and the reasons behind their creation. Why, he wondered, had no one written a book about walls?

“He told me, ‘You know the reason why nobody wrote a book about walls? Because no one gives a flip,'” Frye said ruefully.

However, the 2016 election suddenly brought the talk of walls back into the spotlight. “Now,” Frye recalls, “You have auditoriums full of people chanting ‘Build that wall!'” Within a very short time frame, people began caring about walls.

While walls are an often contested topic in today’s political climate, Frye says that walls were rarely controversial in ancient times. For thousands of years, civilizations spent time building and assaulting walls, and throughout history there are walls found on every continent. From the Persians, Romans and the Chinese to the Inca, the Ukrainians and dozens more, walls have been built by societies across the globe.

Frye’s book, which Kirkus Reviews called “provocative” and “timely,” delves into the people who live on either side of walls. Between entertaining narratives of his own archeological digs and his research as a historian, Frye’s book manages to tell 4,000 years of history in less than 300 pages. Although he writes briefly on modern walls such as the Berlin Wall, the majority of his book is dedicated to the walls of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Greece, China, Rome and others.

These walls serve as the main characters of the narrative, which often feels more like a novel than academic literature. Frye asks several important questions in his book that resonate long after finishing. Did walls make civilization possible? And can we live without them?