When Harper’s Magazine featured a review of the book North Country: The Making of Minnesota
by Mary Lethert Wingerd last summer, the journal highlighted a set of interpretive essays on nearly 200 images from the state’s history.
Those essays were the contribution of historian Dr. Kirsten Delegard to telling the story of how the land of the Dakota and Ojibwe became the State of Minnesota.
In a talk at Hamline University, Delegard will explain her work in interpreting visual images. That discussion, “How I learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving Images; or How Pictures Changed the Way I Do History,” is part of Hamline University’s International Roundtable lecture series.
It will take place Friday, March 11, from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in Giddens Alumni Learning Center, room 1S, on Hamline’s Saint Paul campus. The event is free and open to the Hamline University community and friends of Hamline.
“Most historians consider text sources to be [the only] real sources,” Delegard said. They frequently fail to investigate who created the text sources, why they were created, and what they were trying to say about their subjects, she explained. “They often do not even recognize images as historical sources except in the narrowest and most literal of ways, as visual reproductions of past reality.”
As part of her talk at Hamline, Delegard will discuss what is involved in using historical images to augment the public’s understanding of the past and to understand the representation of past events. She will also address why she feels historians must embrace the skills necessary to master smart visual analysis in a world in which “the image is eclipsing the word” as the predominant means of communication. While she does not think that books and traditional academic writing will disappear, she noted, “Our collective ability to understand words, devoid of images, is on the decline."
In addition to her work on the interpretive image essays for North Country, Delegard is the author of Battling Miss Bolsheviki: The Origins of Female Conservatism in the United States, forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press, and co-editor of Women, Family and Communities: Readings in American History.
The International Roundtable series is sponsored by the Hamline University Global Studies Department, the College of Liberal Art’s Office of the Dean, and Hamline School of Business’ Howard and Darrel Alkire Chair in International Business and Economics. For more information about the talk and about the Roundtable series, contact Kate Bjork, Chair of Hamline University College of Liberal Arts Global Studies Department at (651) 523-2541.