(Posted April 11, 2016)

David Sowell, professor of history
David Sowell, professor of history

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Usually science fiction is the antithesis of history, but David Sowell, professor of history at Juniata College, will explain how the Mexican author of a science fiction classic drew inspiration from his time and his science textbooks, at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.
The lecture, titled, "Medicine and Science Fiction in Revolutionary Mexico:
"Eduardo Urzaiz Rodríguez and the Rationalist Utopia of 'Eugenia'"
is free and open to the public. The talk is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture Series, which features monthly lectures by Juniata faculty during the academic year.

Sowell will talk about "Eugenia," a 1919 novel by Eduardo Urzaiz Rodriguez, which presents a dystopian/utopian vision of 2119 and the Mexican city of Merida. The book lays out a world where eugnenics, feminism and the elimination of international conflict have been established. On particular plot point has traditional marriage being banned and males incubate fetuses.

Sowell's talk will focus on the world of the author Rodriguez, where he was familiar with psychiatry, obstetrics and an early 20th century school of thought called biological positivism. Sowell will use Rodriguez's novel and the teaching texts he wrote on psychiatry, biology and sociology
to explain how this world of intellectualism shaped the author.

Sowell's research interests focus on the social history of Latin America, focusing mainly on labor history and the history of medicine. He has written two books exploring these topics, including "The Tale of Healer Miguel Perdomo Neira: Healing, Ideologies, and Power in the Nineteenth-Century Andes (2001)" and "The Early Colombian Labor Movement: Artisans and Politics in Bogotá, 1832-1919" (published in 1992).

Sowell joined the Juniata faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor of history. He was promoted to associate professor in 1992 and was promoted to full professor in 2001. From 1996 until 1999, Sowell served as assistant academic dean and director of international programs. He has been extraordinarily active in the internationalization of the campus, serving on the 1993 Task Force on Internationalizing Juniata, the International Education Committee and the Middle States Task Force on Internationalization

Sowell received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service in 2007 and received the Junior Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1994. He earned an A.B. degree in history from Western Kentucky University in 1975, and a bachelor's degree in history from Grand Valley State College in 1976. He earned a master's degree in 1980 and a doctorate in 1986, both from the University of Florida.
He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Latin American Studies Association, the Southeastern Conference of Latin American Studies and the Conference on Latin American History.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.