Mergen-Palmer Distinguished Lecture

Dr. Melanie DuPuis giving the inaugural lecture, on the projector screen is a paragraph that reads, "that ideas about separating, purifying, demarcating and punishing transgressions have as their main function to impose system on an inherently untidy experience."

Melanie DuPuis giving the 2014 lecture, “Dietary Independence: Food From the Founding Fathers to the White House Garden”

Since 2014, the annual Mergen-Palmer Distinguished Lecture in American Studies has brought visiting scholars to GW to share their expertise. Recent talks covered the Iraqi smallpox invasion of 2003, the national quest for food “freshness” and the history of religion in the Mississippi Delta.

2021 Mergen-Palmer Lecture | Thursday, April 8
History as an Organizing Tool in the Domestic Workers Movement

Premilla Nadasen | Professor of History, Barnard College
Monique Tú Nguyen | Executive Director of the Matahari Women Workers Center in Boston
Jennifer Guglielmo | Associate Professor of History, Smith College


The lecture series was founded in 2014 in honor of Bernard Mergen and Phyllis Palmer, who were beloved emeriti professors of American Studies at the university. Palmer, who passed away in 2014, also taught women’s studies courses.

Both professors played a major role as scholars and teachers at the university and shared specific interests in sustainability, food studies and the environment.

In Memoriam: Phyllis Palmer


Phyllis Palmer, Melani McAlister and Barney Mergen standing together at the inaugural Mergen-Palmer lecture

Phyllis Palmer, Melani McAlister and Barney Mergen at the inaugural Mergen-Palmer lecture

Past Lectures