Hist Forum explores Haggard Music

October 22, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

A rare glimpse into one of the most controversial songs in the history of popular music, Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee," will be provided by California State University, Bakersfield's History Department at its next History Forum on Friday, Oct. 26, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Albertson Room in the Doré Theater.

The forum will feature Peter La Chapelle, a history professor at Nevada State College in Henderson, Nev., who earned his master's degree from CSUB in 1997. He received his doctorate from the University of Southern California and has taught history and media studies at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa; George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.; and California State University, Dominguez Hills.

A former journalist and Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow, La Chapelle is the author of "Proud to Be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern California" (University of California Press, 2007). He has written articles on the histories of race, gender, the Dust Bowl migration, and country music culture for "A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music" (University of Press of Mississippi, 2004), "Moving Stories: Migration and the American West, 1850-2000" (University of Nevada Press, 2001) and "Dress: The Annual Journal of the Costume Society of America" (2001).

He teaches classes in history, specializing in contemporary U.S. history, cultural history, race and ethnicity, American studies, Latino American history, and media history, especially music and film.

La Chapelle will be discuss the various meanings and uses of "Okie from Muskogee," the history of Dust Bowl migrant music in California from Woody Guthrie to today's Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, and Los Angeles' Grand Ole Echo, and the song's larger place in the histories of country music, Okie identity, and American politics.

Russo's Books will be selling signed copies of La Chapelle's new book after the talk.

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, Fresno State University provost and historian; the history of the California wine industry by historian Victor Geraci; oral history and the Chicano experience in World War II given by Mario Garcia, from the University of California, Santa Barbara; an analysis of the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine presented by CSUB history professor Mark Baker; an analysis on pre-national, pre-modern Ukrainian culture and icons of the Last Judgment by John-Paul Himka, history professor at the University of Alberta (Canada).

The forum is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served and parking will be free in Lots B and C. For more information please call the History Department at (661) 654-3079.