|Tuesday, April 19th|
3:45 PM - 4:00 PM
The fourth century saw the development of Christianity from persecution to the endorsed religion of the Roman Empire. Beginning with Constantine’s conversion after his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, Christianity began to play an ever larger part in Roman religious and political life. Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea in 325 to address the question of the Trinity; in 390 Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, forced Emperor Theodosius I to humiliate himself in public for the purpose of penitence. What changed during the fourth century that gave Christianity the influence over the Roman state that traditional Roman paganism lacked? I analyze the reasons behind Christianity’s usurpation of religious and political authority from the emperor during this time in an effort to understand the relationship between church and state.
4:00 PM - 4:15 PM
The early 16th century saw Spain’s rise as a colonial power, expanding its empire through evangelism and violence. One of the first proponents of that strategy was Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, leader of the Spanish Inquisition and the most powerful religious authority in Spain. However, Cisneros also reformed many religious institutions, combated corruption within the Catholic Church and promoted a near-heretical re-evaluation of the Bible. In the past, historians have puzzled over the two sides of Cisneros: the humanist reformer and the violent inquisitor. My presentation seeks to resolve this tension by proposing that his repressive and violent actions were a logical fulfillment of his ideals and desire for religious reform. Cisneros’ beliefs and repressive tendencies carried into later centuries, thus my examination of his motives and actions also aims at a greater understanding of Spanish colonial expansion.
4:15 PM - 4:30 PM
The Nation of Islam, a black Muslim group, proclaimed a cosmology that inverted the racist narrative of white supremacy by positing that the original humans were black and that white people are devils created by a mad scientist. I trace how the Nation of Islam’s narrative changed during the 1960s and 1970s in response to the Civil Rights Movement, Pan-Africanism and rejection from other Muslims.
4:30 PM - 4:45 PM
The [Whitman] Alumnus reported in October 1951: “Yes, Marc gets around these days—keeping cheerful vigil over the fighting spirit of the College.” Marc, the Fighting Missionary, may have gotten around Whitman College in the 1950s, but these days many Whitman students are denouncing the Fighting Missionary’s links to cultural imperialism and Manifest Destiny. Our panel of presenters wants this conversation to continue. By examining the Whitmans’ intentions, the social environment of the 19th century United States, the myth of Marcus Whitman saving Oregon, and the way Whitman College exploited each of these components, we hope to provide a broader context for Whitman’s namesake and mascot. Understanding context is essential for informed, intentional discussion of and choices about the college’s mascot. Inasmuch as Whitman wishes to create citizens of a global community, informed discussion and choices are crucial parts of the education of its students.