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Conversations at BSC - Charles Dickens and America

Date: 12/16/2012


Sidney J Lee Auditorium, 3 p.m.

Bismarck State College is pleased to present for the fifth year this series of conversations to enrich the community's understanding of our common humanity. Conversation includes discussion between Clay Jenkinson and BSC President Larry C. Skogen. Questions from the audience complete the conversation.

At one point Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was the most popular writer in the English speaking world. Like everyone else of his era, Dickens was interested in the new republican experiment in government across the Atlantic Ocean. He visited America in 1842 to lecture and read from his work. His impressions of the American experiment were not favorable and led to two books about the United States: American Notes for General Circulation (nonfiction, 1842) and the novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44). Dickens was appalled by American manners, skeptical of the experiment in democracy, and appalled by slavery. He returned to America for a second visit in 1867.  This time he began to think more highly of America and Americans. At a banquet in his honor at Delmonico's restaurant in New York in April 1867, he magnanimously promised never to denounce America again. Jenkinson and Skogen will talk about the genius of Dickens and his complicated relationship with the New World.

Larry C. Skogen is BSC's sixth CEO. Retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force, Skogen has been a high school teacher and college faculty member in a variety of military and civilian institutions, including the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is author of works about federal Indian policies and the history of the American West. Skogen has a doctorate in history from Arizona State University, Tempe; MA in history from the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg; and BS in secondary education from Dickinson State University. A native of Hettinger, he is married to Alison, a native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Clay Jenkinson is a North Dakotan, born in Minot, raised in Dickinson, who left to go to college and then lived elsewhere for more than 20 years. But he came home half a dozen times a year, without fail, and said, to anyone who would listen, that he wanted more than anything else to return to North Dakota. Then in 2005 he did. Now he says he will never leave.
Clay is a humanities scholar, a writer, an award winning historical performer and the voice of his alter-ego Thomas Jefferson on the weekly NPR  program "The Thomas Jefferson Hour."
He holds degrees in the humanities from the University of Minnesota and Oxford University. He is a backdoor historian, a Chautauquan, and an essayist. He has published half a dozen books, including the award winning edition of the writings of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota, A Vast and Open Plain. He writes a weekly column, Sundays, for the Bismarck Tribune (bismarcktribune.com), and travels extensively as a historical performer of such characters as Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, among others .
Clay is the Director of the Dakota Institute, a subsidiary of the Fort Mandan Foundation; the principal consultant of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, which was his brainchild; and a distinguished humanities scholar at Bismarck State College, where these conversations occur.
His mother still lives in Dickinson in the house that Clay grew up in and his only child, Catherine Missouri, lives in western Kansas.
Clay lives on the northwestern edge of Bismarck, where his library house is rapidly being eaten by suburban sprawl.

Funding provided by Whiting Petroleum Corporation, Sheila Schafer, BSC Foundation.

Dates are subject to change. For more information, call BSC Continuing Education, Training and Innovation at 701.224.5600 or visit www.bsctalk.com.



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