James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture Series

     The FSU history department is pleased to announce that Professor Kathryn Olivarius of Stanford University will deliver 2020’s annual James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture in U.S. History. Professor Olivarius will present “Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom” at 3:00 pm on October 15.

    Professor Olivarius received her DPhil from Oxford University in 2017 and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London before coming to Stanford. Her research focuses on the way in which discourses about disease shaped the making of societies based on slavery and capitalism in the Atlantic World. “Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom” is based on Professor Olivarius’s current book project, focused on yellow fever in New Orleans in the antebellum period. Professor Olivarius argues that in places like Louisiana and Florida, immunity to lethal diseases like yellow fever was both deeply important but impossible to document scientifically. So attaining immunity was a social exercise, a performance to garner social capital and demonstrate the right to rule. In the process, immunity became the gateway to power in the Deep South and formed an integral part of the society’s customs and understandings about race, capitalism, and the role of government. Professor Olivarius’s work has recently been featured in the New York Times, among other outlets. We hope anyone interested in the history of the South, the history of slavery, or the history of science will join us for the event.


The James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture Series honors the memory of Professor Jim Jones, beloved teacher and scholar in the FSU history department for fifty-seven years. The series brings a prominent historian of the United States to campus each year to lecture and work with students and faculty. The lectures are open to the public, and those interested are invited to email Dr. Katherine Mooney at as-history@fsu.edu to be put on our mailing list.

Previous lecturers include:

  • 2019 Professor Ari Kelman (University of California Davis) “From Manassas to Mankato: How the Civil War Bled into the Indian Wars”
  • 2018 Professor Elizabeth R. Varon (University of Virginia) “Joseph T. Wilson’s The Black Phalanx: African American Soldiers and Civil War Memory”
  • 2017 Professor David W. Blight (Yale) “Writing Frederick Douglass’s Life: Why and Why Now?”
  • 2016 Professor Jane Kamensky (Harvard) “John Singleton Copley and the Art of War”
  • 2015 Professor Brian DeLay (University of California Berkeley) "Dam Breaking: Mercantilism, Armaments, and the Demolition of Europe's America"
  • 2014 Professor Philip D. Morgan (Johns Hopkins) "Caribbean Slavery"
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