Experience stories of Arizona history and culture at a series of virtual speaker events presented by the Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission in partnership with Arizona Humanities in 2022.
Local experts from Arizona Humanities’ AZ Speaks program will present on the following topics via Zoom:
January 26, 11 a.m. – Noon
Western Pulp Fiction (Speaker: Steve Renzi)
From the 1920s through the 1950s, pulp fiction magazines sold for a dime and filled American newsstands. Nobody admitted that they liked them, but everybody read them. They were American pop culture at its best and worst with cover art that was bright, bold and energized. Western magazines were the most popular, helping to create the myths of the American West. Writers like Elmore Leonard, Jack London and Louise L’Amour wrote for pulp magazines, and several classic Western films first appeared as pulp stories, including The Searchers, Red River, and 3:10 to Yuma. Pulp fiction magazines disappeared from newsstands in the 1950s.
March 9, 11 a.m. – Noon
Why Arizona Dark Skies Matter (Speaker: Matthew Goodwin)
Flagstaff, Arizona was the world’s first community designated an International Dark Sky Place for its active efforts reduce light pollution and protect the visibility of the night sky. There are now over 130 dark-sky communities, places, and parks globally. Arizona alone has 17 dark-sky places, which is more than any other country in the world. This presentation will explore the importance of dark skies from a philosophical perspective, covering what connections can be found between darkness and the night sky with our sense of morality, our sense of who we are as human beings, and our understanding of our place in the universe.
April 26, 11 a.m. – Noon
Arizona’s Vintage Signs: Lighting the Future (Speaker: Marshall Shore)
Arizona has become a hotbed of preserving vintage signage and neon. With the rise of Arizona and automobile travel in the 40s, 50s and 60s, thousands of people were traversing the broad expanses of highways and byways across the Southwest. As the cars sped past, restaurants, motels, curio shops and gas stations needed large, bright signs to make an impression. This informative and entertaining visual presentation explores the social significance of the rise of commercial neon signs, references the designers whose signs became iconic, and explains what efforts are afoot to save our signage history.
June 8, 11 a.m. – Noon
Saviors and Saints on the Arizona Frontiers (Speaker: Jan Cleere)
Health care in early Arizona was hardly reliable and frequently nonexistent. Often, settlers were on their own when tragedy struck, with women taking on the responsibility for the well-being of their families. Meet a handful of women who influenced the history of the territory through their medical expertise and their spiritual leadership. Theresa Ferrin’s comprehensive understanding of healing herbs earned her the title “Angel of Tucson.” Florence Yount is recognized as Prescott’s first woman physician, while Teresita Urrea was sometimes lionized for her hands-on healing powers. Saint Katharine Drexel invested much of her vast fortune in educating Navajo children. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet trudged across the blazing desert enduring untold hardships before arriving safely in the territory to administer to the health and well-being of the children of the desert.
October 11, 11 a.m. – Noon
Bisbee: The Alchemical City of Copper Borderlands (Speaker: Virgil Hancock)
This presentation covers 150 years of Bisbee history. It includes a historical deep dive into the copper borderlands, as well as contemporary photographs of greater Bisbee. The presentation will use the concept of alchemy to focus on the transformation of an early mining camp in the Mule Mountains of Southern Arizona into the city of Bisbee. Alchemy also provides an excellent metaphor for the continuing transformation of the town from a half company-owned copper mining town to a contemporary, vibrant, democratic, small-town tourist leader. The speaker will cover the indigenous peoples, immigrants to Bisbee, fraternal organizations, history of violence and war, the border, central role of women, role of the federal government and importance of the arts.
The events are free. Registration is required.
Please note, this virtual event is not run by the City of Surprise and the security of the online platform has not been validated by the city.
For more information, please contact the Human Service and Community Vitality Department at 623.222.3243.