Professor to bring passion for history to 3D lecture

Published 7:00 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

Dr. Kevin Shirley believes a successful teacher brings passion and enthusiasm to class along with books and knowledge.

“If the professor gets excited, the students get excited,” said Shirley, a professor of history who has been getting students excited at LaGrange College for more than two decades.

On Feb. 25, he will bring his passion for the past to the 3D Journeys podium as guest speaker for “Magic of Morocco,” the travel/lecture series now in its ninth year. It’s a role he knows well.  A medievalist who teaches a broad range of courses, Shirley’s presentations on Ireland, Croatia and Sicily were highlights of previous 3D series.

“Dr. Shirley makes history come alive,” said Kay Durand, a volunteer on the 3D Journeys committee. “He brings so much enthusiasm to his lectures, and I not only learn but am entertained.”

Shirley’s eagerness to hook listeners is reflected in the unusual title of his talk: “As Close as the Vein in your Neck.”

It’s from a story told by Ibn Buttata, a famous Moroccan traveler and chronicler from medieval times. The saying, Dr. Shirley explains, is drawn directly from the Koran and uses the position of the carotid artery to describe the intimate connection between God and man.

“There’s a powerful story to be told about Islam and Morocco,” Shirley said. “Islam in Morocco is as dynamic and living a faith tradition as it is anywhere else in the world, and we will try to explore some of that diversity, complexity and history.”

He said he aims to give historical context and an appreciation for the “complex story” that is Morocco,  an ancient and still-evolving kingdom  in a ruggedly beautiful North African setting that, on a clear day, can be glimpsed across the Mediterranean from Spain.

Shirley said he hopes that, in a small way, the 3D Journeys lecture will show that history is far more than dates, names and places, but rather “the fabric and fiber of human experience.”

“History is a living, breathing thing,” Shirley said. “It seems alive because it is alive.”

3D Journeys lectures are free and held at 10 a.m. on the fourth Monday of January through April in the Dickson Assembly Room in Turner Hall.  Parking is available at Sunny Gables Alumni House, 910 Broad Street, with shuttle service to the door. An optional Dutch treat lunch is available in Pitts Dining Hall following each lecture.