Critically acclaimed historian to speak next Tuesday

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The SHSU Department of History is kicking off the spring semester by holding the twelfth annual Joan Coffey Symposium featuring critically acclaimed historian Roger Knight on Tuesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. in Academic Building IV Olson Auditorium.

Assistant Professor of History Doctor J. Ross Dancy discussed the excitement revolving around the Joan Coffey Symposium this year.

“The Joan Coffey Symposium is an annual lecture event that the History Department does,” Dancy said. “We are excited to be able to host Roger Knight this year.”

Knight is expected to give his lecture on Napoleonic War and its correlation to conflicts that arose in the first half of the 20th century.

Dancy discussed Knight’s background and field of study that launched Knight’s career into an award-winning historian.

“Roger Knight is a historian of 18th century Britain, but he also does a lot of military and naval history,” Dancy said. “He just recently wrote a book called Britain against Napoleon.”

Though Roger Knight is currently retired, he was previously a naval history, 18th-early 19th c. and Napoleonic Wars professor at the University of Greenwich in London.

Dancy included the efforts, research, and Knight’s occupation before Knight began his career as a visiting professor.

“Knight worked at the British National Maritime Museum for over 20 years,” Dancy said, “15 years of which he held the director position.”

Knight has additionally prepared an essay that was written specifically for his lecture at Sam Houston State University, which will focus more on empirical wars rather than local ones.

“It’s about the Napoleonic wars and how involved were the general masses,” Dancy said. “Largely wars over empire rather than the local aspect, and we will also look to see how these wars created further issues in the 20th century.”

The History Department focuses on European history, as that is what Joan Coffey specialized in during her time at Sam Houston. Dancy talked about the importance of the symposium to the department.

“We do this in honor of Joan Coffey, who was a member of the History Department and died suddenly in 2003,” Dancy said. “Every year since then we have had this symposium as a result. She was a very influential and loved member of the faculty and she studied European History.”

Dancy and Knight have known each other since 2007; Dancy went onto discuss the decision making and planning of the symposium.

“As a faculty, we usually volunteer to take on this event,” Dancy said. “We invite speakers as we come into contact with people that we know or meet. It just gets passed around the department from year to year. “It’s a real honor to have someone like Roger Knight,” Dancy said. “He is very important to the field, and has done a lot of work over a 40 year career.”

The Joan Coffey Symposium is free and open to the public.