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Release: March 6, 2000


UI to host year-long seminar series on Cold War America

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The year 1950 was a pivotal turning point in U.S. history, with foreign and domestic events combining to set the stage for the second half of the 20th century in the United States. In honor of the 50th anniversary of that momentous year, the University of Iowa will offer a year-long series of public seminars and conferences focusing on "The Point of No Return: 1950, the Cold War and the Twentieth Century."

The series will consider American actions, the reasons given for those actions, the consequences, and possible alternatives. The series, organized by Robert Newman, an Obermann Scholar and adjunct professor of communication studies, and coordinated by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, will involve the participation of numerous UI departments and centers. The series will be held in conjunction with programs at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Truman State University.

Upcoming presentations in the series will include: McCarthy and the Inquisition (March 25); The Multiversity, the Cold War and Big Science (April 1); NSC 68: Blueprint for the Cold War (April 8); and NGOs and the Congress for Cultural Freedom (June 3). The series will continue in fall 2000 with four presentations in September followed by monthly presentations in October, November, and December. Times and locations for these presentations will be announced closer to their scheduled dates.

UI faculty members participating in the series include: David Hingstman, David Depew, Bruce Gronbeck, Kathleen Farrell, and Sam Becker, all of communication studies; Shelton Stromquist, Stephen Vlastos, and Linda Kerber of history; John Nelson of political science; and Duane Spriestersbach, emeritus vice-president for research. Other participants include faculty members from American University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Truman State University, University of California at Los Angeles, and St. Olaf Collage among others.

"Before 1950," Newman explained, "it was possible to conceive of a return to an acceptable working relationship with the Soviet Union, even if not to the wartime cooperation. It was also conceivable that the challenges to civil liberties arising from The House Un-American Activities Committee and Hoover's FBI would be blunted. Both of these possibilities disappeared in 1950 -- it was the Point of No Return."

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said the series presents an exciting opportunity for open dialogue between academics and members of the public who are interested in these issues or who lived through the era.

UI sponsors of this series include the following departments, centers, and offices: communication studies, economics, history, political science, Baird Center for Public Advocacy and Debate, Baird Professorship of Public Address, Center for Recent United States History, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry, Shambaugh Foundation, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research.

For more information, contact the Obermann Center at (319) 335-4034 or visit the series Web site at