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Dr. Paul A. Townend, Chair
Department of History
UNC Wilmington
Wilmington, NC 28403

910-962-3308, townendp@uncw.edu

Dept. of History Chair Paul Townend


A Letter from the Chair

The Sherman Lecture is a different, and I think a wonderfully different event.   It is meant to provide a platform for young thinkers with intriguing ideas, and with particular insight into how history, our reflections on the past, can be connected to challenges the world faces today.  There really are few venues like it anywhere, where a promising scholar is given the opportunity to be center stage, not to audition for a job or sell a project, but to share and communicate that promise, not just with an academic audience, but with the wider community, with concerned citizens, with life-long learners.  How such an original lecture series came to be is a story of the generosity, but also of the curiosity and the creative thinking of one family.  Most of us in the History Department at UNCW remember very fondly Virginia and Derrick Sherman, a pair of intellectually agile retirees who valued History’s public programs and the academic work of the department – Virginia, devoted to the UN Association, and Derrick, who never gave up learning himself—he was on this campus taking history classes in the last summer of his life, when he was over 90 years old.  As a young scholar in the department, when I arrived at UNCW in 2001, I was so delighted to see Derrick around the department and to chat with him—it convinced me that UNCW was a special place.  Such interesting people turned out to have a pair of equally interesting children, and it is Philip Sherman and Ann Sherman-Skiba, and their spouses, who created the Sherman Lecture endowment to honor their parents.  Philip and Ann have contributed much to the success of this series and to the Sherman program not only through their founding gift, but also through their continued interest in the series and ongoing friendship with UNCW’s history department.  

Each year the Sherman Lecture Committee invites scholars to submit lecture proposals on a chosen international theme.  This year’s theme, the history of disease, pandemic and epidemic, particularly its social context, meshes so well with the lecture series on many levels.  Of course it gave us the opportunity to explore dynamics that are in their nature global, transnational, and enormously consequential.  The field of history of medicine, furthermore, especially in its cultural and political dimension, is an increasingly exciting area for new scholarship and its developing historiography reflects new scholarly approaches.  The Sherman lecture series continues to offer stimulating reflections for a lay audience on how the modern world developed, and continues to develop, in a way that takes the details and contingencies of history as seriously as it takes its themes and audience.

Paul A. Townend
UNCW History Department Chair

 

 


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