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Release: Sept. 11, 2001

Friends of late UI professor Sydney James to celebrate posthumous publications

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Friends, colleagues, and former students of the late Sydney V. James, a professor in the University of Iowa history department for nearly 30 years, will gather Friday, Sept. 14, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 302, Schaeffer Hall to celebrate the posthumous publication of two books he was writing at the time of his death. The celebration will be part of the department’s 2001 Book Party honoring faculty and alumni who have recently published scholarly books.

Of the numerous publications by UI history faculty and alumni in the last three years, none carries more emotional weight than James’ two completed works, which were undertaken by a friend and a former student, said Linda Kerber, a history professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“As we celebrate the life and career of Sydney James, we are also recognizing the enormous contribution of energy and time from Dwight Bozeman and Sheila Skemp, who undertook these extraordinary labors of love,” Kerber said. “They have unselfishly carried out a very moving academic tradition of shepherding a colleague and mentor’s unfinished manuscripts to publication.”

Bozeman, a UI professor of history and religion, completed James’ manuscript on John Clarke, the founder of the Baptist Church in America. “John Clarke and his legacies: Religion and Law in Colonial Rhode Island, 1638-1750,” was published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 1999.

Skemp, a former student of James’ who is now a professor of history at the University of Mississippi, edited James’ colonial history of Rhode Island, which was published as, “The Colonial Metamorphoses in Rhode Island: A Study of Institutions in Change” by the University Press of New England in 2000. Skemp received her Ph.D. in history from the UI in 1974.

In addition to his distinguished scholarship, James helped to shape the College of Liberal Arts and the university through many years of leadership and service on departmental, collegiate, and university committees. He served as department chair from 1970-74 and was serving his second term as chair when he died in May 1993. He was a member of the presidential search committees that recommended hiring former UI Presidents James Freedman and Hunter Rawlings. He served on the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate.

In conjunction with the book celebration, the history department has scheduled a brown bag lunch on Sept. 14 featuring Philip Pachoda, director of the University of Michigan Press, and Holly Carver, director of the University of Iowa Press. They will discuss, “Turning your Dissertation into a Book: What publishers would like you to know,” from noon-1 p.m. in Room 302, Schaeffer Hall. The presentation is open to all who are interested.

In addition, alumni who are returning for the book celebration will hold a panel discussion “Life After Schaeffer Hall: Reflections from Alumni,” at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 in Room 71, Schaeffer Hall.