OWU professor talks history, ‘54 to be exact


The battle against polio, the Red Scare, the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and the birth of rock ’n’ roll.

Ohio Wesleyan University history professor Michael Flamm, Ph.D., covers these memorable moments and more in “How 1954 Changed History,” a new audio course recorded for “The Great Courses Series” from Amazon and Audible Originals.

“The goal was to show how 1954 was one of the most important years in modern U.S. history and present fascinating human stories with historical ramifications,” said Flamm, who joined the OWU faculty in 1998. “In 10 short episodes, you can relive some truly dramatic historical moments.”

In addition to the headlines listed above, Flamm said, the series also covers “social or cultural topics like the Monroe-DiMaggio marriage, the debut of ‘The Tonight Show,’ and the making of ‘On the Waterfront.’”

The biggest challenge in creating each episode, he said, was keeping the finished product to only 30 minutes. “That meant I had to leave some amazing material on the proverbial ‘cutting room’ floor,” he said.

“At different moments I had different favorites,” Flamm said, “but now I most like the episode on Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine because of the obvious implications for our present crisis.”

Flamm said he hopes listeners gain insights that extend beyond the facts shared in each episode.

“I hope that people will appreciate how, at certain times, they might live through extraordinarily historic moments,” he said. “Certainly, we are in one at present.”

“How 1954 Changed History” is free to stream with an Audible trial membership accessible at www.audible.com or www.amazon.com.

At Ohio Wesleyan, Flamm teaches courses in U.S. history from 1877 to the present. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, his doctorate at Columbia University, and is a former Fulbright Scholar.

In addition to his “Great Courses” audio series, he is the author of “In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime” and “Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s.” Flamm is the co-author of “Debating the Reagan Presidency” (with John Ehrman) and “Debating the 1960s: Liberal, Conservative, and Radical Perspectives” (with David Steigerwald).

Learn more about Flamm and Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of History at www.owu.edu/history.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is located in Delaware. The private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports.

Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings.

Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

10-episode audio course available

Special to The Gazette

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