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Interview with Patricia Limerick (reposting)

Today we are reposting an interview with historian Patricia Limerick, whose research and scholarship focuses on the American West. We spoke with Professor Limerick at this year’s Symposium 2020. 

Limerick is a prolific award-winning author, whose scholarship is supplemented by a regular column in The Denver Post. A recognized leader within the historian’s guild, Limerick served in several roles, including as the Colorado State Historian (2016-2018) and as an advisor to the National Endowment for the Humanities (2015-2019). 

Limerick is also the founding director of the Center of the American West (University of Colorado Boulder), which provides remarkable resources “for the respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives in the pursuit of solutions to the region’s difficulties.” For more than 30 years, the Center has offered academic and public programs that aim to find common ground from the shared experience of the past–with a dose of humor for good measure.

In the March interview, we learn that Professor Limerick was enticed by the study of history through good and great books as taught by remarkable teachers–like the late Jasper Rose, founding faculty member and provost of Cowell College at the University of California-Santa Cruz. As Limerick recalls, Rose inspired a love of history using a montage of great works in conversation: reading Herodotus’s History alongside Homer’s Odyssey, then requiring students to write a Shakespearean ode to one of Homer’s characters. (Limerick chose to memorialize Penelope.)

The interview is filled with wonderful twists and turns, as Patty recounts her discovery of history as a vast resource for making sense of our human condition and acquiring some wisdom for the road.

Hope you enjoy the conversation! Let us know what you think by leaving your comments below.

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