NATCHITOCHES – Dr. Nathaniel D. Wood, associate professor of history at the University of Kansas, will speak at Northwestern State University at noon on Friday, Feb. 15. Wood is a 1996 graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State. His address, “Backwardness and Rushing Forward: Life and History in the Age of Speed,” will address a cultural history of bicycling, motoring and aviation in Poland from 1885 to 1939. The talk is part of a series of lectures by LSC alumni in celebration of the College’s 25th anniversary.
Wood’s lecture will be the trajectory of his research and is, in part, the core of a second book he is writing. In researching cultural history, he noticed a trenchant irony, that the quintessential experience of the age of speed—and of modernity generally—might be the sensation of feeling behind. When the age of speed came tearing through on foreign-built machines and without much infrastructure to sustain it, Poles, like many others, had a hard time steering its course. They may have had dreams of rushing forward, but generally the best they could do was to go along for the ride.
“As we witness the acceleration of life around us, we often feel this way, too,” Wood writes. “When we struggle to meet our obligations despite all of the time-savers we have at our disposal or feel frustrated with the rapid obsolescence of the electronic gadgets we buy, we know how it feels to rush forward but never quite arrive. Coming from a place like Natchitoches or the Polish lands at the turn of the century, both of which are part of modern Western civilization, but not at its core, might help us to feel this sensation of backwardness more acutely.”
Woods is a Natchitoches native. His father, David Wood, teaches French at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. In 2010, he published Becoming Metropolitan: Urban Selfhood and the Making of Modern Cracow, which was critically acclaimed by historical journals for its ground breaking methodology. Wood won a Fulbright Fellowship to Poland and was awarded the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence from the University of Kansas.
Wood’s lecture will take place in Morrison Hall Room 227. For more information, contact Dr. Richard Jensen, professor of history in the Louisiana Scholars’ College, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Wood at email@example.com.