Humanities Forum Topics and Presenters

2015 Humanities Forum Programs


Programs to begin November 1, 2014

*denotes new presenter/presentation


*Maude and the Fraud: The Daughters of Calamity Jane

In 1941, Jean McCormick announced she was the daughter of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.  Maude Weir commented that the woman was a “dirty liar”.  Maude would know.

Researching Calamity Jane: A Can of Worms

Who was this Missouri farm girl who trudged West with her preacher father seeking gold? Having researched Calamity Jane for 27 years, Glenda examines the fact, fiction and fantasy surrounding this western icon, searching for authenticity among the mythology.

The presenter: Glenda, a proud graduate of UW, is a former Junior High teacher of English, Geography and History. She was lured into librarianship, eventually becoming the Director of Libraries/AV for the Billings, MT Public Schools.  Retiring in 1988, she went on the road as the character of Calamity Jane, all based on her research.  After 2,423 performances nationwide, she retired again in 2004. Currently she is concentrating on the research itself, now in its 27th year.

Contact: (307) 754-2812 home, (307) 254-5666 cell,



The Journeys We Take, the Stories We Make

From road trips to epic migrations, journeys transform us and our stories about those journeys reflect these changes.  Barbara will explain the process of turning a journey into a story and give you the tools to tell your own journey story.

The presenter: Barbara has an PhD from UCLA, has been a college professor and worked for several museums. She also has numerous publications to her credit.

Contact: (307) 399-0806,




Building a World Class Education System

Drawing on her many years in the educational system as well as research, Audrey will share findings from top scoring schools in other countries.  Her discussion will focus on what Humanities studies could contribute to improving the success of American students.


The presenter: Audrey has an EdD from the University of Wyoming and was the Wyoming Deputy State Superintendent for many years, a previous Natrona County School Board member and the original executive director of the Wyoming Humanities Council.

Contact: (307) 333-1517,




Dutch Oven Cooking

Wyoming people embrace outdoor camping. This experience can be enhanced with the incorporation of a meal made using a Dutch oven. Jessica explores the history and culture of Dutch oven cooking in this interactive presentation.


Wheels through Wyoming: Chronicles of Bicycling in the Equality State
Jessica examines Wyoming’s bicycling history, including the Laramie Wheelmen, the Laramie Bicycling Club, Elmer Lovejoy, Thomas Stevens, women on bikes, and the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps.


*John Wesley Powell, Myrtle and Me; Journeys on the Colorado River

Jessica chronicles John Wesley Powell’s expeditions on the Green and Colorado Rivers.  She intertwines her own adventures on the Colorado River with other contemporary experiences on the river.

The presenter: Jessica and her husband own a bicycle shop in Laramie and are very active community members.  She is a former teacher and youth librarian.

Contact: (307) 760-7643,



Argument: Reasoning not Ranting

An argument is a chain of reasoning, authoritative only if both the premises are true and the mechanics are good.  This kind of rational procedure underlies learning and informs our decisions.  A look at the standard forms of argument enables us to analyze others’ (and our own) convictions, revealing strengths, fallacies and assumptions.


Exploring the Philosophy of Computer Science

Participation from humanists in the new field of Philosophy of Computer Science would raise interesting questions and broaden the scope of the endeavor.


The presenter:  Robin, a native of Wyoming and a UW graduate, has taught computer science and logic for more than 30 years.

Contact:; 307-760-8508



Wit of Will Rogers and the Woman Behind the Wit, Betty Rogers

Will Rogers insight into and humor about the human condition is as applicable today as ever.  Betty was instrumental in shaping Will from a second rate vaudeville performer with a rope into America’s most beloved philosopher.


Col. Tim McCoy, Wyoming Adjutant General & Cowboy Movie Star

Learn about the life and career of Tim McCoy who traveled to Wyoming as a young man to become a cowboy-for-hire, Wyoming homesteader and ranch owner, friend to the Northern Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes, Wyoming Adjutant General and cowboy movie star.


The presenters: Richard and Mary are prolific writers, western historians and public speakers.  They live in the Laramie Range.

Contact: 307-399-0894,



Wyoming’s Desert Wilderness: BLM Lands Eligible for Protection

In this presentation, Erik Molvar examines potential wildlife areas that exist on public lands in Wyoming and discusses the process for their designation as such.  Eric’s slideshow is tailored to the presentation venue and also addresses wilderness areas statewide.


Don’t Fence Me Out: Wilderness and Public Lands in Wyoming 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Erik Molvar discusses the history of public lands in Wyoming, from the Open Range and public domain days through the creation of Yellowstone, to the establishment of national forests.


The presenter: Erik works for WildEarth Guardians and is the former executive director of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. He has a master’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Contact:, 307-399-7910





Jim Crow Nation

This presentation examines the Jim Crow laws enacted between the late 19th and early 20th century and includes a discussion of discriminatory laws in Wyoming’s past.


Boomer Nation

This presentation examines the impact of the Baby Boomer generation on the life of our nation.


Cigarette Wars: A Forgotten Crusade

Few activists on either side of the current arguments over tobacco realize that a century ago, Americans were already engaged in a spirited debate over the cigarette.  Indeed, participants in these earlier discussions developed many of the same points heard today.


The Lights Go Out: World War I and American Culture

While Americans fought only in the final 18 months of World War I, the battlefield conditions, appalling casualties, and the bitter debate over the peace treaty created disillusionment that led to much of the culture wars of the 1920s and 1930s.


The presenter: William is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wyoming.

Contact: (307) 742-4906,




*Wyoming State Budget 101

Wyoming spends more than $8 billion every two years to fund state government, schools, and highways.  A large part of that money comes from sales & mineral taxes as well as the federal government, giving Wyoming a high amount of per capita government spending compared to other states. Greg follows the path of revenue into the state coffers and back out to Wyoming residents.  An audience discussion about the financial underpinnings of civic life should be lively.


Wyoming, the Railroad State: The Impact of an Indispensable Industry

The railroad is responsible for the Wyoming we know today. The construction of the Union Pacific in 1868 gave rise to the towns, the geography of settlement, the economy, and even the politics of Wyoming.When the Chicago Burlington and Quincy built across the northern part of the state in the 1890s, a similar transformation took place.

The presenter: Greg is a historian, writer and filmmaker from Big Horn.  He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Wyoming. He writes for WyoFile and and has produced history documentaries as well as worked as a museum curator and an elk hunting guide.

Contact: (307)752-6031,




*Undead Obsessed: My Journey to Discover Meaning in Zombies

Jessica’s obsession started when she was in junior high.  Her years of research led her to the conclusion that zombie films are a reaction to society’s suspicion of modern science.

Women & Horror

Through her presentation, Jessica encourages the audience to look at slasher films as social commentaries and see beyond the blood and gore to examine the roles of women in these films and how they redefine gender stereotypes.

The presenter: Jessica has an MA in English, is an author and works for the University of Wyoming Foundation.

Contact: (307) 399-6615,



*Who Shall Sing of the Valiant Woman

This presentation celebrates women of legend, fiction and fact through the songs that tell their stories and praise their courage.  The songs come from the American tradition, although some of them are the descendants of tales as old as civilization itself.  Bill’s wife Sharon joins him for this presentation.


*Magic Carpet Made of Steel

Songs and stories help us recapture the wonder the railroads once inspired.  Using these tunes and yarns, this presentation will explore what the railroad meant to the West and to Americans in general, in the distant and not-so-distant past.


*No Irish Need Apply

This presentation uses published oral history and tales as well as traditional American songs of the Irish immigration to show the “texture” of the Irish experience in America.


Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

This presentation explores the Great Depression through story and song, while inviting audience members to share memories and family tales of the depression.


Stories, Songs and Sodbusters

Homesteaders, following a different dream, went west and stayed.  Braving the “Great American Desert” with hand tools and a bucket of hope, they sang about the land of milk and honey. By the time they’d settled on their claims their songs included lyrics about alkali water, grasshopper plagues, chickens with the pip, leaky sod huts and coyotes at the door.


The presenter: Bill taught at Flathead Valley Community College in Montana and is also a member of the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau.

Contact: (406) 755-2236 or




Wildlife on the Wind

This presentation chronicles Bruce Smith’s four-year partnership with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to restore big game populations on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Conservation and Biopolitics of the Jackson Hole Elk

Bruce Smith describes how biology, economics, and social mores are interwoven in the conservation and management policies of the world’s largest and most famous elk herd.


The presenter: Bruce served as biologist at the National Elk Refuge for 22 years. He holds a doctorate in zoology and physiology and is the author of four nonfiction books.

Contact: (406) 842-5995,




*When Man Becomes Prey

Cat explores how man has always fallen prey to large carnivores that inhabit the same environment, and how public attitudes about large predators influence attacks by the animals.


The presenter: Cat is an author and photographer based on a western Wyoming sheep ranch.

Contact: (307) 276-5393,




Women in Judaism and Islam

Women’s roles have undergone dramatic changes in the past decades throughout the world, but women’s status issues remain controversial in many traditional religious societies. This talk will look at a selection of problems and developments in Muslim and Jewish communities, including issues of education, leadership, honor killing and female genital cutting, legal testimony, marriage and divorce, military service and much more.


Understanding the Middle East

Every week brings news from the Middle East.  Conflicts seem never-ending.  Democracy and human rights appear challenged.  Violence grows ever more vicious.  This forum will attempt to provide perspective on such issues as sunnis vs. shias, extremists vs. moderates, “religious” vs. “secular”, traditional tribal vs. modern national values, and conflict between Muslims, Christians, Jews and other religious groups and subgroups – all necessary to be an informed participant in debates about our roles in the region.


Middle East and Israel in Film

Films can provide a window into the deepest issues in the Middle East and Israel. This presentation requires equipment to show film clips which lend themselves to lively discussions.


The presenter: Seth teaches Islamic history and religion at the University of Wyoming. He received his PhD in Near Eastern languages and literature from Yale University.

Contact: (303) 981-7561,