Every year, the Stanford Alumni Association brings a prof up to give a lecture here in Seattle. So, Saturday evening Michelle and I attended this year's lecture. We were very fortunate to have political science Professor David Abernathy talking about the current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, "Spain in the Age of Exploration, 1492-1819."
Professor Aberathy was a very compelling speaker, setting the exhibit in the social, political, relgious, and scientific context of the time. He illustrated his points with slides from the exhibit, really providing a roadmap to view and better understand the exhibit.
I also need to give him credit too for being restrained with respect to tying the events leading to the downfall of the Spanish Empire with recent electoral events. There were some obvious parallels, but he avoided pandering to the crowd with easy asides.
While I love understanding how and why things happen in history, I'm not as well versed in the humanities to really profit from an exhibit like this. The talk unlocked the exhibit and really helped me understand what I seeing. Great stuff. Too bad the computer science profs at Stanford weren't all as lucid...
After hearing his talk, I'm excited to read his most recent book, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980. If it's half as interesting as his talk, it'll be great.