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Chinese, Texas History Come to Life in Arts and Humanities Lectures
Nelson to Discuss Union Unit's Demise on Tuesday; Campany to Share Stories of Past Lives on Wednesday

Robert Campany

Dr. Robert Campany

Medieval China and Confederate Texas will come to life this week with two talks that step into history.

On Wednesday, the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas will host its second annual lecture of the Anlin Ku Visiting Artist and Scholars Program with a visit from Dr. Robert Campany.

Campany, professor of Asian studies at Vanderbilt University, writes about Chinese religious history and comparative religion. His talk is titled “Remembering Past Lives in Early Medieval China.”

“The recollection of past lives is a phenomenon that occurs in many cultures. My lecture will examine stories from China circa 300-650 A.D. in which ordinary people are represented as remembering or learning about their own past lives,” Campany said. “What was thought to be at stake in such an experience? Why were stories of such events recorded? And why are they so fascinating?”

The lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

Campany regularly teaches courses on the history of Chinese religions, Daoism and East Asian Buddhism, as well as thematic comparative courses that touch on many religious traditions, cultures and periods. In his research, he aims to contrast the textual materials relevant to the history of religions in China and the problems stemming from the comparative study of religions.

Campany said the resulting conversations often teach us surprising things about the history of Chinese religions as well as about how to study and understand religion.

Meagan Kate Nelson

Dr. Megan Kate Nelson

Campany is the author of Making Transcendents: Ascetics and Social Memory in Early Medieval China, which won the American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Historical Studies category) in 2010, and won honorable mention in the Association for Asian Studies’ Joseph Levenson Prize competition in 2011.

The Anlin Ku Visiting Artist and Scholars Program was made possible by a generous gift from Jeff Robinson and Stefanie Schneidler. The program is named for Anlin Ku, a Taiwanese woman who played a major role in Schneidler’s upbringing.

Robinson and Schneidler’s philanthropic interests include health, social and human services, arts and culture, and they are committed to the School of Arts and Humanities’ vision of creating an interdisciplinary approach to education. 

Robinson is a member of the Chancellor’s Council, the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies Advisory Council and the University Campaign Council. He and Schneidler regularly attend lectures and forums held in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Ackerman Center and the School of Arts and Humanities.

The day before Campany’s lecture, Dr. Megan Kate Nelson presents “Dying in the Desert: The Nature of Warfare in the Confederate Campaign for New Mexico, 1861.”

In the summer of 1861, Col. John R. Baylor and his 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles rode from Texas into New Mexico Territory; they were there to take the West for the Confederacy. As Baylor and his men moved up the Rio Grande, 600 Union soldiers and civilians fled from the Texans into the mountains of southern New Mexico. By the end of the day, 100 of them had died and the survivors had surrendered. How did this happen? Nelson’s talk will suggest that it was not military might that destroyed the Union column that day but the nature of the desert Southwest.

Nelson is a writer, historian and cultural critic. She has taught American history and American studies at Texas Tech University, Cal State Fullerton, Harvard University and Brown University. She writes for The New York Times Disunion blog and is the author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War and Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp. Her blog, Historista, examines the “surprising, cool, and weird ways that people engage with history in everyday life.” She is currently researching a book about the Civil War in the Southwest.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Alexander Clark Center and is free and open to the public.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: A&H