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WIU to Hold 33rd Annual History Conference April 26

April 7, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University's history department will host the 33rd Annual History Conference, "Putting the 'Story' Back in History," on Saturday, April 26. James Willbanks, director of the military history department at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, will be the featured speaker.

Telling relevant and important stories has been the essence of the annual History Conference; and this year's conference is intended to recognize historians' roles as educators, promoters of good citizenship and sound character, and models of scholarly creativity.

WIU history faculty members will present a variety of topics during three 60-minute sessions. Participants can choose from four presentations each session.

The conference will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 26 with registration and a continental breakfast in Stipes Hall 501. All sessions will be held in Stipes Hall.

The 9-10 a.m. session will feature the following presentations: "Blueprint for Genocide: T4, Hitler's Euthanasia Program," by Professor Bill Combs; "Christian Women Crossing Cultures: Japanese-American Relations in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries," by Assistant Professor Febe Pamonag; "Uncovering Custer: Reinterpreting the Battle of Little Bighorn," by Associate Professor Virginia Jelatis; and "The Best General: Eisenhower, Johnson and Escalation in Vietnam," by Assistant Professor Richard Filipink.

The 10:10-11:10 a.m. session will include: "Teargas and Magnolias: The Integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962," by Professor Emeritus Larry Balsamo; "Wanton Women, Wicked Witches: The Early Modern European Witch-Hunt," by Assistant Professor Jennifer McNabb; "Seductive Siren of Egypt: Cleopatra and the Use and Abuse of History," by Associate Professor Lee Brice; and "Consumption of the Countryside: Commodifying Nature in 19th Century America," by Associate Professor Greg Hall.

The final session, from 11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m., will include: "Ballads and Breadlines: The Music of the Great Depression," by Interim Chair Virginia Boynton; "Justice, Pain and Punishment: Judicial Torture and the Death Penalty in 18th Century Europe," by Associate Professor Edward Woell; "In the Shadow of the Dragon: Foreign Devils, Boxers and the China Relief Expedition of 1900," by Associate Professor Walter Kretchik; and "Socialism or Death: Hugo Chavez and the Latin American Left," by Professor Virginia Leonard.

Participants will receive handouts from each of the 12 presentations. Social studies or history teachers employed by Illinois public schools are eligible to receive six Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for participating in the conference.

A luncheon is scheduled at 12:45 p.m., followed by Willbanks' keynote address, "The Lessons of the Tet Offensive," at 1:45 p.m. in the University Union Heritage Room. Willbanks, a retired lieutenant colonel of Infantry, has served in a variety of leadership and staff assignments worldwide, including serving as an adviser with the Queen's Cobra of the Royal Thai Army in Vietnam and with the 18th Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. His research is focused on 20th century military operations, with a specialization in the Vietnam War. He was an instructor in the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Department of Joint and Multinational Operations, specializing in joint task force operations and theatre campaign planning. He also worked as in infantry doctrine writer for the Royal Saudi Land Forces in Saudi Arabia. Willbanks has authored three books: "Abandoning Vietnam" (University Press of Kansas, 2004), "The Battle of An Loc" (Indiana University Press, 2005) and "A Concise History of the Tet Offensive" (Colombia University Press, 2006).

Registration deadline for the conference is Monday, April 21. For more information and registration information, visit or call 309/298-1911.

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