Lectures & Programs
The History Department sponsors annual lectures focusing on specific areas of historical study.
A lecture series in European history
This lecture series in European history was established to honor the memory of Brother Casimir Gabriel Costello, one of many faculty from the order of the Brothers of the Christian School who have contributed over the years to the academic reputation of Manhattan College. Brother Gabriel came to Manhattan in 1949 with a new Ph.D. from Fordham to assume the chairmanship of the history department. Over his long tenure at the college, he built up the history department, earning the sobriquet "Mr. History."
Brother Gabriel also served as Dean of the College, where he stressed that the college must offer a liberal education to all of its students, no matter what their area of concentration, declaring, "The College exists primarily for the cultivation of intellectual virtues and these can never yield primacy to either the functional or vocational." In this spirit, Brother Gabriel defended academic freedom, especially in the dark days of the McCarthy era.
Following the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65, much of his time and energy went into adapting its teachings to the life and organization of the Brothers, both here on campus, in the province, and around the world. While Brother Gabriel respected tradition, he believed that it should not become a straitjacket, rather it should provide a starting point for progress. In that vein, he supported the Pacem in Terris Institute at the college, which has evolved into the Peace Studies Program.
The lecture series is sponsored by one of Brother Gabriel's many grateful students: Roger Goebel, Professor of Law at Fordham University and Director of the Center on European Union Law there, who graduated from Manhattan College in 1957 with a degree in history.
From its inception, the series has attracted leading historians.
Previous lectures in this series:
- 2015: Meghan Roberts, Bowdoin College, “Savant Spouses: Love, Marriage and Collaboration in Enlightenment France.”
- 2014: Co-sponsored with Upsilon of New York Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Caroline Bruzelius, Duke University, “Building on the Inquisition: Friars Paying for Churches in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries”
- 2013: Lynn Hunt, UCLA, “When a Debt Crisis Turns Revolutionary: The French Revolution of 1789”
- 2012: Allen Guttman, Amherst College, “Jewish Athletes At and After the ‘Nazi Olympics’ of 1936”
- 2011: Suzanne Yeager, Fordham University, “Fictions of Espionage: Crusader Identities in Medieval Travel Texts”
- 2010: Suzanne Desan, University of Wisconsin at Madison, “Foreign Activists in Revolutionary France: The Politics of Territory and Identity”
- 2009: Margaret L. King, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, “Mothers of the Renaissance”
- 2008: David A. Bell, Johns Hopkins University: “The Culture of War and Peace in Europe, 1750-1815”
- 2007: Desmond Dinan, George Mason University: “Interests, Institutions, and Individuals: A History of the European Union”
- 2006: George Saliba, Columbia University: “The Influence of Islamic Science on the European Renaissance”. This lecture was co-sponsored by the Upsilon of New York Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, located at Manhattan College.
- 2005: Stephen Cohen: Princeton University & New York University "'The Question of All Questions': Why did the Soviet Union End?"
- 2004: Carolyn Walker Bynum, Institute for Advanced Study: "Did Medieval Women See Visions?"
- 2003: Theodore Rabb, Princeton University: "The Renaissance: Birthplace of the Modern World."
- 2002: Robert Darnton, Princeton University, "What was Revolutionary about the French Revolution?"
Robert J. Christen Program
A lecture series in early American history and culture
The Robert J. Christen Program in Early American History and Culture was founded in 1986 to honor the memory of Dr. Robert J. Christen (1928-1981), esteemed educator and public servant. The primary benefactors of this program are his widow, Barbara Christen, their three daughters, and friends of the family. Dr. Christen began his long association with Manhattan College as a Manhattan Prep student, and then was an undergraduate in the School of Arts, graduating in 1952. As a student he was a seeker, a meticulous worker, a curious and challenging participant in all of his classes, and a notable man about campus. He joined the faculty of Manhattan College in 1958. As a teacher he was exacting but fair, drawing from each student his or her full potential.
Dr. Christen earned a Masters and Ph.D. from Columbia University. As a scholar he was a specialist in the colonial and revolutionary periods of American history. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Isaac Sears, a radical New York City patriot during the American Revolution. At Manhattan he was one of the founders of Pacem in Terris, an institute whose goal was to make the study of peace as serious a subject in academe as war.
His energies were not confined to campus. He was an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he served on the Committee for Academic Freedom. He was a member of the local school board, District Ten in the Bronx, and he also was appointed to the New York City Board of Education. He was elected its president in 1976-77 and chaired the Committee for Collective Negotiations with the teachers union in the New York City school system. Because of his many contributions to education, Riverdale's Public School #81 was named in his honor.
Previous lectures in this series:
- Prof. Joanne Freeman, Yale University, “Hamilton: The Man, the Myth, the Musical,” Feb. 15, 2017
- Prof. Carol Berkin, Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, “Women and the American Revolution,” April 8, 2013
- Prof. Jill Lepore, Harvard University, “The Tea Party and the U.S. Constitution,” April 11, 2011
- Col. James M. Johnson, Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute, “The Hudson River: The Key to America in the American Revolution,” April 7, 2009
- Bill Moyers, Emmy Award-Winning Television Journalist, "Making a Difference", April 12, 2007
- Prof. Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University, "Myth and Reality of Salem Witchcraft," April 14, 2005
- Prof. Jacob Judd, Lehman College, and Br. Luke Salm, Manhattan College, "New York City and Manhattan College in the 1850s," March 4, 2003
- Prof. David Reimers, New York University, "From the Old World to the New: Immigration in Colonial and Early National America," March 27, 2001
- Prof. Edward Countryman, Southern Methodist University, "New York: Toward a New History of an Old State," March 8, 1999
- Prof. Kenneth Jackson, Columbia University, "The Capital of Capitalism: Continuity and Change in New York City Since 1624," April 3, 1997
- Dr. Sherrill Wilson, African Burial Ground Project, Professor Nan Rothschild, Barnard College, "Urban Archeology in New York City," February 23, 1995
- Co-sponsor of a program with the School of Arts on the Quincentennial of Christopher Columbus and the New World, Fall 1993
- James Simon, Dean, New York Law School, "The Rehnquist Court and the Future of the Bill of Rights," April 18, 1991
- Prof. Eric McKitrick, Columbia University, "America and the French Revolution," March 22, 1990
- Profs. David Hawke, Corinne Weston, and Jacob Judd, Lehman College, "A Program Commemorating the Glorious Revolution," April 11, 1988
- Inaugural Lecture: Prof. Richard Morris, Columbia University, "Witnesses at the Creation: the Federalists and Its Authors," April 22, 1986