Keim lecture features Oberlin College professor on U.S. history of HIV/AIDS

Clayton Koppes, professor emeritus of Oberlin College, will present on “Sex, Drugs and Human Rights: The Contested History of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.” for the annual Keim Lecture Thursday, Jan. 26, from 5-6 p.m. in Suter Science Center 106. 

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception at 4:30 will precede the lecture. View the livestream on Facebook Live from our EMU Facebook page. (You do not need a Facebook account to access Facebook Live, nor does clicking on the link obligate you in any way to Facebook.) 

Koppes is the former dean, provost and twice acting president of Oberlin College. He is a historian of American culture, technology, foreign policy and the environment. The author of numerous articles and two books, including the co-authored Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies (University of California Press, 1990), he is now writing a history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. 

Koppes graduated from Bethel College, then earned an MA from Emory University and a PhD with honors from the University of Kansas, both in history. At Bethel, he was a student of Professor Keith Sprunger , father of EMU history professor and Keim Lecture committee member Mary Sprunger

“Professor Koppes will provide insights about an important era in U.S. history,” Sprunger said. “Today’s students should know how the stigmatization of AIDS, due to the initial spread of the new disease among the gay community, hampered effective and compassionate public health and religious response to the epidemic. I’m excited–but also disheartened–about the way that this topic connects to current events, such as the covid pandemic, monkey pox, and the Club Q shooting.”

Koppes earned Bethel’s Distinguished Achievement Award from his alma mater in 2018. The award acknowledges character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or vocation, and work of benefit to humanity.

Among other professional leadership roles, Koppes has served as president of the American Society for Environmental History and was a founding member of Oberlin’s innovative Environmental Studies program.

More on the Keim Lecture Series

The Albert N. Keim Lecture Series honors the memory of Professor Albert N. Keim who served as a history professor at EMU for 35 years and was the academic dean from 1977 to 1984. The inaugural lecture in 2013 featured leading historian Peter N. Stearns, of George Mason University.

Learn more about past presenters, in this sampling:

2022: Professor Kimberly Schmidt presented on “Marketing Mennonites, Posing Cheyennes: Photography, Gender, and Indigenous Agency on the Mission Field (1880-1920).”

2021:  Historian, author, and investigative reporter Rick Shenkman, founder of History News Network, spoke on “Why is Democracy so @#$&! Hard?” 

2020: Professor Ernesto Verdeja, of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at University of Notre Dame, was the speaker. 

2019: Federal public defender, immigrant rights attorney and playwright Kara Hartzler ’94 spoke on “Borders, Jails, and Long Drives in the Desert: 25 Years of Immigration Law in the Southwest.”

2017: Dongping Han, professor at Warren-Wilson College and a native of rural China, addressed “The Cultural Revolution: A Reinterpretation from Today’s China.”

2016: Artist/activist Mark Strandquist provided a lecture titled Performing Statistics: Connecting incarcerated youth, artists, and leading policy experts to challenge Virginia’s juvenile justice system.”

2015: Charles R. Epp, political scientist in the University of Kansas’s School of Public Affairs and Administration, presented “The Police and Racial Discrimination in America.”

2014: Vincent Harding, a pastor, activist and history professor who helped EMC professors initiate social change in Harrisonburg during the early 1960s, presented “Is America Possible?”