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King University News :: King Professor Participates in Gilded Age Seminar at Stanford

When the opportunity of spending a week studying the intricacies of the Gilded Age presented itself, Dr. Shannon Harris, associate professor of History and chair of the Department of History Political Science for King University, was eager to begin the application process. 

After a rigorous selection process, Harris was among an elite group chosen to participate in The Gilded Age seminar held this past summer at Stanford University in California. The seminar was made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and The Council of Independent Colleges, of which King University is a member.

Leading the seminar was Pulitzer Prize-nominated historian Richard White. White, an expert on the Gilded Age, is a Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University.  The Gilded Age is a time in American history that begins with the era of Reconstruction after the end of the Civil War and lasted through the 1890s.  The Gilded Age was coined after a book of the same name authored by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner. 

Most historians typically define the Gilded Age as having occurred from 1877 through the 1890s.  It is perceived as a time of the rise of the modern corporation when the standard of living rose for many Americans, but with growth also came hardship for others, including immigrants and blue collar workers.  It was also a time when railroads first connected the country bringing about a more modern America and an economic depression.  Over the course of the seminar, White spent time reinvestigating and redefining the era of the Gilded Age with help from seminar participants.

White is currently writing a book for the Oxford series of American History.  The Gilded Age seminar was a post-graduate level seminar in which White not only instructed the attendees on the era but also collaborated with them for input on his book. 

“This was an opportunity to have synergy with a group of like-minded scholars,” said Harris.  “The people who attended the seminar were, for the most part, relevant and interesting scholars who were pleased to have a week to engage in intellectual matters, pursue their love of history, and become better acquainted with fellow historians. It was a unique and exceptional opportunity and I was pleased to represent King University and be a part of a fellowship of scholars.”

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