When the Joplin Public Library celebrated the start of 2022 with a series of posts about the to circulating books of 2021, a book about the history of the storied Connor Hotel was among the top five in the Adult Non-Fiction category.

Published last year by The History Press, “Joplin’s Connor Hotel” was written by Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies at Missouri Southern.

“The book has had an overwhelming response locally,” says Stebbins. “I’ve given about 15 different presentations to various civic groups and have three more scheduled this spring. People are intrigued and fascinated with our local history.”

The Connor Hotel opened in April 1908, at a time when Joplin was a lead and zinc mining boomtown. Located on the northwest corner of Fourth and Main streets, it was the creation of Thomas Connor, a wealthy land speculator who died before its completion.

“The hotel gave Joplin a touch of elegance and grandeur,” says Stebbins.

His book also documents how, in November of 1978, the hotel was in the national spotlight due to its premature collapse as it was being prepared for demolition.

It’s just one of several faculty-penned works that are in the works or have recently been published.

 

‘At War with King Alcohol’

Dr. Megan Bever, associate professor history and chair of the Social Science Department, has written “At War with King Alcohol: Debating Drinking and Masculinity in the Civil War.”

Set for publication in late summer by the University of North Carolina Press, Bever says the book is a project that grew out of her dissertation and interest in reform movements such as temperance and Prohibition.

“(The book) looks at how the military used liquor during the Civil War,” she says. “It also broadens out to look at the way people talked about liquor and drunkenness. Everyone knew the Army was using alcohol for ‘health reasons.’ There was discussion among officers about how much one could drink and be a good soldier and a patriotic man.”

Her research led her to the National Archives, where she found dispensary ledgers, showing how alcohol was (or wasn’t, in some cases) distributed among the soldiers.

“There were really strong emotional responses to drinking and the production of alcohol during the Civil War,” Bever says, adding that the issues connect to the troubled relationship Americans have with drinking to this day.

“I think (writing the book) has changed how I think about food – what we eat and drink – and how it connects to all of these emotions and morals, and the way we link these things and tie them in with patriotism.”

 

‘Eisenhower for Our Time’

Dr. Steven Wagner, professor of history, will spend the summer editing his upcoming book on the nation’s 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Eisenhower for Our Time,” is tentatively set for publication in the fall of 2023 as part of a series by Northern Illinois University Press, which looks at major historical figures and how they remain relevant in the present day.

“The thread of what holds this book together is Eisenhower’s attempts to find balance,” says Wagner. “It’s what drew me to him in the first place – his moderation. His centrism is so different than the politics of today.”

The “balance” sought by Eisenhower includes personal preference and civic duty; public responsibility and private enterprise; national security and economic prosperity; and majority rule and minority rights.

“I had written a previous book on him (2006’s “Eisenhower Republicanism: Pursuing the Middle Way”), so I felt pretty comfortable with his presidency and his domestic political philosophy,” Wagner says. “This time, I wanted to find out more about his worldview.”

 

‘Slowly/Suddenly’

Allison Blevins, an adjunct professor in the English and Philosophy Department, knows there’s a power to poetry being read aloud.

Last semester, she offered a reading from her first full-length poetry collection – “Slowly/Suddenly” – which deals with trauma, disabilities and queer experience.

Hearing poetry read aloud is a different experience than picking up a book and reading it, says Blevins.

“Even if you’re not a poetry reader, you can still get something from a poetry reading,” she says. “Just listen. You can get so much from the sound and rhythm.”