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Theodore Roosevelt Symposium slated for September at DSU

Dickinson State University and the Theodore Roosevelt Center will host the 17th annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium in mid-September. Topics of discussion will include Roosevelt's incredibly active lifestyle, physical fitness and changing culture in the Progressive Era.

Theodore Roosevelt Center
The Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University.
Dickinson Press file photo
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DICKINSON — Dickinson State University and its Theodore Roosevelt Center will host the 17th annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium entitled “The Athlete in the Arena: Theodore Roosevelt and the Development of Modern Sports.” This will take place on DSU's campus from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17.

This year’s public humanities symposium explores athletics in the Roughrider era and American notions of physical fitness evolved with the changing social climate. Topics include the beginnings of basketball, taming of collegiate football and debates on physical education for women. Roosevelt was famous for his spontaneously active and hard charging masculine lifestyle. Participants will discuss his life as a boxer, wrestler, stick fighter, point-to-point hiker, skier and martial artist.

Several award-winning authors will be speaking, including Anne Blaschke, an expert on the history of Title IX. Simon Cordery will fascinate attendees with his talk about “the strenuous life” as a remedy to anxieties of the Gilded Age. Then Ryan Swanson will speak more on Roosevelt as an athlete. The authors will be available for book signings afterward. They will cap off the symposium on its final day by convening in a panel. There will also be an educational hike in the Badlands.

DSU Digital Communications Specialist and Theodore Roosevelt scholar, Professor William Hansard, explained how the Roughrider conquered health constraints that rendered him feeble and sickly as a child to become rough and tumble scrappy frontiersman.

“As a young man, his father encouraged him to become athletic by exercising his body. Sort of through sheer force of will, he was able to overcome that asthma through athletic activity,” Hansard said. “Now, he did still occasionally suffer asthma attacks even into adulthood, but it was nothing like it was as a child where they were frightened, it could even kill him.”

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TR Cartoon
A cartoon depicts Theodore Roosevelt's rugged life as a leader on many different fronts.
Contributed / Prof. William Hansard

The seeds of Roosevelt's insatiable thirst for coffee were also planted in his youth.

“Doctors tried to treat it (his severe asthma) with a variety of methods. Most were not very successful. One of the others besides exercise was strong black coffee. He drank it, famously, by the gallon his entire life because he drank it so often as a child as well,” Hansard said.

This symposium coincides with the grand opening of a new space on campus for the TR Center, which will include offices for staff, scholars and student workers. This will also have living quarters for students of the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program, media production studios, exhibition galleries and more.

In addition to a well-stocked research library, the building will house a scale replica of Roosevelt’s reading room at Sagamore Hill, his home in Oyster Bay, New York, with copies of many books that Roosevelt himself owned. This will drive TR Center to its defining purpose of becoming the central hub for scholarly research on Theodore Roosevelt and the world in which he lived.

TR Boxer
Many on the Western Edge rever Teddy Roosevelt for his hard charging, alpha male persona.
Contributed / William Hansard

Registration costs $175 for all three days, with reduced rates available for single days, or virtual attendance for $50. Attendance is free of charge for all DSU faculty, students and staff. Students and faculty from other schools also get free admission, but must pay for their own meals.

For additional details, visit the TR Center website at theodorerooseveltcenter.org . Readers can also contact Hansard by emailing him at william.hansard@dickinsonstate.edu or calling 701-483-2814.

Other stories by Jason O'Day
The annual Dickinson Food Truck Rodeo will be hosted at an all new location this year, in conjunction with a Farmer’s Market and other foodie opportunities.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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