JUNE 18, 2008


Living history program turns back clock at OSU-Tulsa

of Karen Vuranch portraying Julia Child.
Karen Vuranch portrays Julia Child, chef, author and television personality, during the Oklahoma’s 2008 Chautauqua at OSU-Tulsa.

Hundreds of Oklahomans turned back to the age of hippies, peace anthems and political tensions for the 2008 Oklahoma Chautauqua at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.

“A Time for Every Purpose: America in the 1960s” was the theme for the living history program which took place June 2-7. The 17th annual event was presented by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa.

Scholars performing in this year’s Oklahoma Chautauqua portrayed Barry Goldwater, 1964 presidential candidate credited for reigniting the conservative base of the Republican Party; Betty Friedan, feminist, activist and author of “The Feminine Mystique;” Julia Child, chef, author and television personality; George Wallace, 1964 presidential candidate known for his segregationist stance; Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and nature writer whose writings helped advance the global environmental movement; and Malcolm X, internationally revered, though controversial spokesman for universal human rights.

Appearing in costume, the scholars recounted stories in the character's own words and in the language of their time. A question-and-answer session, with the scholar both in and out of character, followed each performance.

Daily workshops and local musicians were also part of the festivities, which were free and open to the public.

The first chautauqua was held in the 1870s at New York’s Lake Chautauqua, originally a camp for Sunday school teachers. In the early 20th century, chautauqua was a tent show traveling along a circuit in the Midwestern United States that presented a stage for contemporary culture, political oratory and discussion of modern social issues. The modern Chautauqua movement began during the American bicentennial, as a tent revival for humanities and as an entertaining means to provoke discussion of American history.