RSU to Present Review of Alternative Oklahoma History Book

Dr. Davis D. Joyce will discuss his book “Alternative Oklahoma: Contrarian Views of the Sooner State” on Tuesday, April 17, at the RSU Stratton Taylor Library.

The review, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 3:30 p.m. in room 207 of the library. The event is part of the RSU Literary Review Series and refreshments will be provided.

Joyce retired as professor emeritus of history from East Central University in 2002 and previously served as an adjunct professor at RSU.

In this companion to his previous volume “An Oklahoma I Had Never Seen Before,” Joyce presents 14 essays that interpret Oklahoma’s populist past and address current political and social issues. The author collected essays from scholars and political activists who write about subjects ranging from gender, race, and religion to popular music, the energy industry and economics for the book.

These decidedly contrarian Sooner voices reflect the progressive, libertarian and even radical viewpoints that influenced the state’s creation. Contributors talk of growing up “Okie and radical,” of the legacy of Woody Guthrie in the Red Dirt music scene and of the Sunbelt Alliance that helped to stop the building of the Black Fox nuclear power plant. They look back at Oklahoma City’s role in the early civil rights sit-in movement and at an Oklahoman’s experience with Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In assembling these essays about Oklahoma and its past, Joyce calls on the alternative approach to history championed by Howard Zinn and also invokes Oklahoman Paul Harvey in offering readers “the rest of the story.”

 “Alternative Oklahoma” urges an alternative exploration of the state’s diverse past. It’s an Oklahoma history that takes into account the overlooked and the left behind and contributes to a more open political dialogue in a state too often dismissed as unquestionably “red,” Joyce said.

He said the new book has a strong RSU connection: “I did much of the work on this book while I was teaching part-time at RSU over the past four years. It actually says on the back of the book that I teach at RSU; I don’t anymore, but did at the time I read the proofs.”  Joyce also acknowledges several RSU colleagues and friends in the book, including Dr. Abe Marrero, Dr. Frank Elwell, Dr. Paul Hatley, Phil Sample, and Dr. David Tait.

Joyce earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma and won the McCasland Award for Excellence in Teaching Oklahoma History from the Oklahoma Heritage Association in 1997.

Joyce has authored, co-authored or edited nine books including “Howard Zinn:  A Radical American Vision.” The book is a study of the life and writings of the radical historian and activist of the civil rights movement who is best known for his million-plus seller “A People’s History of the United States.”  Joyce said that Zinn’s “history from the bottom up” approach has been a major influence on his own historical work, including his two edited collections of essays on Oklahoma history.

Copies of Joyce’s book will be available for purchase and for the author to sign. More information is available by contacting the RSU Stratton Taylor Library at 343-7716.