Baron Lecture: Patricia Limerick Reflects Upon “The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West”

Patricia Nelson Limerick, A Western American historian at the University of Colorado, will deliver the ninth annual Baron Lecture on October 25 at 7 p.m. This lecture is named after Robert C. Baron, past AAS chairman and president of Fulcrum Publishing in Denver. This lecture invites a distinguished AAS member who has written a seminal work of history to reflect on one book and its impact on scholarship and society since its publication. The topic of this year’s Baron Lecture is particularly poignant as AAS reflects on its accomplishments over the last 200 years, for Limerick will be exploring the ways in which her seminal book, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, would have been improved by spending time in the archives of AAS.

The Legacy of Conquest, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was a groundbreaking book in scholarship on the West. It examined how the environmental characteristics of the West, combined with the dynamics of the ongoing conquest of the Native Americans, helped define the history of the region. Now, twenty-five years later, Limerick shares the instructive and amusing journeys that her book undertook, reflecting on the “substantial and genuine virtue” that Legacy would have gained from time spent in Worcester. As a “big picture” historian, Limerick feels herself indebted to historians who delve deep into the archives and work closely with the actual documents and manuscripts, as well as to those who manage these collections.

Limerick is the Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado. She has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between academics and the general public and to demonstrating the benefits of applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts. Her other books include Desert Passages (1985) and Something in the Soil (2000). Limerick has received a number of awards and honors recognizing the impact of her scholarship and her commitment to teaching, including the MacArthur Fellowship (1995 to 2000) and the Hazel Barnes Prize, the University of Colorado’s highest award for teaching and research (2001). She regularly contributes essays to op-ed pages of local and national newspapers, and in the summer of 2005 she served as a guest columnist for The New York Times.

As always, this program is free and open to the public.

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