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History Forum at CSUB
  January 6, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138,

California State University, Bakersfield’s History Department will host its first History Forum of the new year on Friday, Jan. 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the Albertson Room at the Doré Theater.

The forum will feature John-Paul Himka, history professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton presenting “The Titillating and Grotesque: The Demise of Last-Judgment Icons in the Carpathian Mountains.”

In an effort to uncover and describe pre-national, pre-modern Ukrainian culture, Himka has examined a large number of icons of the Last Judgment, which he found in churches of the Carpathian Mountains on various expeditions to the region.

Himka will describe these icons appearance and disappearance. “After Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, a complex feature of Byzantine Christian high culture was transplanted into Ukrainian villages in the Carpathian Mountains,” he said. “Intricate icons of the Last Judgment were painted in this region over the next 250 years. They evolved over time, but the basic iconographic program proved hardy and survived until the 18th century,” he explained. “Then the icons began to disappear. The last icons show features that could be causes or could be symptoms of their decline or perhaps both.”

Himka noted, “There is almost no textual evidence about these icons. All conclusions can be drawn only from a visual comparison of dozens of paintings.” He cautions that he is not writing art history; he is in fact reading these dramatic, iconic paintings as “texts” that can reveal aspects of Ukrainian and Eastern European history usually ignored in the documents and by most historians.

The presentation will include an extensive slide show of these icons.

Himka is a professor of Eastern European history. His specialty is Ukrainian history, including peasant culture, nationalism, religion, iconography of the Eastern church, memory of World War II, and the Holocaust. He teaches courses mostly in these areas, as well as an innovative course on the history of the world in the last 10 years. He has given guest lectures at many prestigious universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Toronto, and Harvard, and is recognized as one of the leading authorities on Eastern European history.

The History Forum started in March 2000 and presents one speaker per academic quarter. Past topics have included the history of the Basque settlement in Bakersfield presented by Jeri Echeverria, CSU Fresno provost and historian; the history of the California wine industry by historian Victor Geraci; oral history and the Chicano experience given by Mario Garcia, from the University of California, Santa Barbara; and an analysis of the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine presented by Mark Baker, CSUB history professor.

The forum is free and open to the public. For more information please contact Baker at (661) 654-6833 or at



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