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GCC History Club

GCC history club announces Historical Horizons lecture series for fall 2023

By Press Release
Submitted photo of the Historical Horizons Speakers, 
courtesy of Genesee Community College

Press Release:

The Genesee Community College History Club is excited to announce the Historical Horizons Lecture Series schedule for the Fall 2023 semester. The series will kick off Wednesday, September 6, 2023, with Dr. Cari Casteel discussing "A Better Mousetrap for Your Armpit: The Cultural Evolution of Deodorant."

As of 2023, over 90% of men and women in the United States apply a deodorant or an antiperspirant about 6-7 times a week and some more than that. The store shelves are filled with a dizzying array of applications and scents. Before the 1950s, deodorants only came in two forms-liquid and cream. By the 1960s, the choices seemed endless.

In the years following the Second World War, the deodorant market underwent a period of rapid technological innovation. With the market at near saturation, technology and innovation had become the way to win consumers. New application methods including roll-ons, sprays and sticks filled the shelves. These new deodorants drove many consumers to frequently switch brands, opting for the newest, most modern product. This made it possible for an innovative deodorant to go from nonexistent to the market leader in a matter of months. Deodorant makers found themselves locked in a constant struggle to-in the words of an English Leather deodorant ad- "build a better mousetrap" for the armpit.

Wednesday, October 4 - Harold Knudsen, Lt. Colonel, US Army (retired)

James Longstreet and the American Civil War: The Confederate General Who Fought the Next War

The American Civil War is often called the first "modern war." Sandwiched between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I, it spawned a host of "firsts" and is considered a precursor to the larger and more deadly 20th century wars. Confederate Gen. James Longstreet made overlooked but profound modern contributions to the art of war. Retired Lt. Col. Harold M. Knudsen explains what Longstreet did and how he did it in James Longstreet and the American Civil War: The Confederate General Who Fought the Next War.

This book draws heavily upon 20th century U.S. Army doctrine, field training, staff planning, command and combat experience, and is the first serious treatment of Longstreet's generalship vis-a-vis modern warfare. Not everyone will agree with Knudsen's conclusions, but it will now be impossible to write about the general without referencing this important study.

Wednesday, November 1 - Derek Maxfield, Assoc. Professor of History, GCC

"The Victorians and Spiritualism"

Americans in the 19th century were increasingly drawn to the idea that it was possible to communicate with the dead beyond the grave. The Victorians, in particular, already romanticized death and sought to make the rituals surrounding it more attuned to their own values. They embraced the idea of a heavenly reunion in heaven and found solace in being able to communicate with lost loved ones through seances and other mediums. Many of the devices the Victorians created to deal with death stick with us today and have modern relevance.

Wednesday, December 6 - Dr. Aaron Sachs, Professor of History, Cornell University

Stay Cool: Why Dark Comedy Matters in the Fight Against Climate Change

We've all seen the headlines: oceans rising, historic heat waves, mass extinctions, climate refugees. It feels overwhelming, like nothing can make a difference in combating this ongoing global catastrophe. How can we mobilize to save the world when we feel this depressed?

Stay Cool enjoins us to laugh our way forward. Human beings have used comedy to cope with difficult realities since the beginning of recorded timethe more dismal the news, the darker the humor. Using this rich tradition of dark comedy to investigate climate change, Aaron Sachs makes the case that gallows humor, a mainstay of African Americans and Jews facing extraordinary oppression, can cultivate endurance, persistence and solidarity in the face of calamity.

Environmentalism is probably the least funny social movement that's ever existed. Stay Cool seeks to change that. Will comedy save the world? Not by itself, no. But it can put people in a decent enough mood to get them started on a rescue mission.

All events begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building on the Batavia Campus. Events are FREE and open to the public.

Sonny Mayo and the Lowdown concert Friday will help fund GCC springtime history tour

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Sonny Mayo and the Lowdown are coming to Genesee Community College's Stuart Steiner Theater on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. for an evening of excellent rhythm and blues featuring a great selection of original tunes and old favorites.

Presale tickets are $10 each and can be purchased by contacting Derek Maxfield, GCC's associate professor of History at or 585-343-0055, ext. 6288.

All concert proceeds will benefit GCC's History Club's spring break history tour of important historical sites, museums and battlefields.

Frank Mayo, aka Sonny Mayo, is now a retired GCC public speaking professor, but he is anything but retired from his passion for music. He is bringing his trio with him for a show that promises to give local music aficionados a taste of folk, blues and Americana music, and all for great cause.

Presale tickets are $10 each and will be $12 at the door.

Advance tickets are encouraged by contacting: Derek Maxfield, GCC's associate professor of History and History Club advisor; or Marie Kochmanski, clerk-typist in the second floor Humanities Suite, Room B259; or Michelle Forster, secretary in the third floor GCC Human Communication and Behavior Suite, Room B359.

 For more information or to purchase tickets, email Maxfield at or call 585-343-0055, ext. 6288.

Friday's spirited one-man performance of 'A Christmas Carol' at GCC will benefit History Club

By Billie Owens

Press release:

What do Gettysburg and Charles Dickens have in common? In 1868, both were "cleaning up." One from the devastation of the famous battle, while the other was raking in cash doing a tour of America in which he read and performed his famous work, "A Christmas Carol."

This Friday night, Dec. 21, the GCC History Club will call on Buffalo Meteorologist Mike Randall to summon the spirits of Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as he performs "A Christmas Carol" in the guise of Charles Dickens.

Randall's critically acclaimed performance represents the major fundraiser of the year for the GCC History Club, which hopes to raise enough to go on its annual trip to Gettysburg, Pa.

This educational trip takes students to the famous battlefield, where they walk the field and learn the lesser-known details of the battle. In past years, students have also made day trips to places like Washington, D.C., and Monticello, Va. This year they hope to make a trip into Philadelphia.

For many students, the History Club trip is a life-changing experience. For Bobby Washington, a GCC alumnus, former president of the Club and now Social Studies Education major at the SUNY College at Brockport, the trip was a high point of his time at GCC. A native of New York City, Washington had seen little outside the city before coming to Western New York.

The Club and the trips "helped me progress as a person and armed me with new knowledge," Washington said. "You don't know what you don't know until you have an opportunity to see these important places. And one of the things the history club taught me was if opportunity knocks, let it in."

Tickets are still available for the Friday 7 p.m. performance at the Stuart Steiner Theater. To reserve or purchase tickets in advance call (585) 343-0055, ext. 6270, and ask for Marie Kochmanski or Michelle Forster at ext. 6312. Tickets are $15 each presale or $20 at the door. All tickets are general admission, so arrive early for the best seats.

Jeff Donohue to discuss Ely Parker at GCC History Club March 7 in Batavia

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee Community College's History Club is excited to announce the addition of Jeff Donohue's discussion on "Ely Parker: A Man of Two Worlds" to its Historical Horizon's Lecture Series.

Independent historian and former director of the Holland Land Office and Museum, Jeff Donahue will be at GCC's Batavia Campus on Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in room T102 if the Conable Technology Building.

Donohue's talk will examine the challenges Parker faced living in two worlds. During the Civil War, Ely Samuel Parker, a Seneca chief, struggled against prevailing prejudices to make his mark. He was so successful that he would become the man entrusted to copy the terms of surrender at Appomattox Court House.

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