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Interim WIU Department of History Chair Jennifer McNabb
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McNabb Chosen to Deliver "The Great Courses" Lecture Series on The Renaissance

October 3, 2016

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MACOMB, IL – An online video clip of Western Illinois University's "The Purple Chair" television show has helped a Western Illinois University professor land a prestigious lecturing opportunity.

Interim WIU Department of History Chair Jennifer McNabb has been chosen to deliver one of "The Great Courses," which will involve the creation of a series of 48 30-minute lectures for a video series.

A senior academic recruiter for The Great Courses saw a YouTube clip of McNabb discussing witchcraft on WIU's "The Purple Chair," an original production of University Television. The program, which debuted in March 2013, features interviews with people with relationships to the WIU campus by host Amanda Shoemaker, the director of Foundation communications/donor stewards at Western.

"This was a long process," said McNabb. "The company saw 'The Purple Chair' video in Spring 2015, and I was vetted last year."

A representative came to Western in Fall 2015 to observe McNabb deliver a lecture in her History senior seminar on the fourteenth-century plague. She was then invited to the company's headquarters in Virginia to deliver a 30-minute lecture on the Spanish Armada.

"The sample lecture tested well, and so I was offered the opportunity to develop a course on The Renaissance," said McNabb. "Now I will spend the next year in development of materials, lecture scripts, a study guide, and a list of recommended readings to accompany the course segments."

McNabb will then head back to Virginia in December 2017 to tape the lecture series, which she said amounts to about two-thirds of an academic semester in lectures. She will tape the 48 segments, which can be edited and expanded, in three multiple-day visits.

McNabb credits her work with the Macomb L.I.F.E. (Learning Is ForEver) program for encouraging her to explore how to make her academic specialty accessible to learners outside the traditional classroom setting.

McNabb said the video series' are often ordered by adult learners, schools and libraries. Videos are available in a wide variety of academic areas and are also being offered as part of a streaming program.

For more information on the L.I.F.E. program, visit, and for information on the lecture series, visit

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