History Lectures

Over the past two I was able to attend two lectures (well one was a lecture and the other one was a workshop), but both were by the same scholar Dr. Khaldoun Samman. Yesterdays talk was “The Colonizer’s Time Machine and the Remaking of the Middle East” and today’s was “Why Jewish and Arabic History Books are Stacked in Two Different Sections in the Library Stacks.” Both were interesting and dealt with issues of time and cultural differences, modernity, and peoples and cultures being too entrenched with specific notions of the past and interestingly Epcot (yes, Disney).

Now before you ask about the Library Stacks talk, Samman did not really discuss libraries. He brought them up briefly in his paper “Zionism and the Nationalization of Jerusalem” and he mentioned at today’s talk that he was not going to discuss them (but he really liked the idea and you must admit its a good title to hook you), but that did not stop a cranky librarian from demanding to know what Samman meant by that title. It was a small group today (10 coming and going total) and in that group there were two librarians (me and the cranky woman whom I do not know). Well it seems that this librarian took offense to the title or that was my take on it because she was a bit hostile. It was like she was personally offended that someone would question the library catalog or librarians. Who knows.  Ahh…you might be asking what did I say about this whole thing? Nothing. The Ottomanist (aka one who studies Ottoman history and not one who fixes footstools) sitting next to her did a good job of pointing out the obvious to her (but I don’t think she got it), so there was no need for me to chirp in. But what I want to know is did this woman read the article before she came to the workshop (reading the pre-circulated paper was part of the instruction for attending the workshop)? I am pretty sure she was not at the talk last night (it was a pretty small crowd); so did she do her homework and read the article or was she just there to rant and rave? I mean, really. I read the article and had even emailed a few librarians the title of the talk to see if anyone knew why Jewish and Arabic History books are in two different areas. They all thought the title was interesting and none of them took offense. All had different answers and they were all probably right in some respect. So why get offended over something so small or trivial?

One thing I will say about the various History lectures I have attended over the past year or so at the U of MN, is that they do have some really interesting talks and they usually have really good food. Is there a connection? hmmm…