“An Historian looks at Valentine’s Day – the Interplay of Dollars and Cupids” 


Katherine G. Aiken


Full of symbols – giving flowers and candy, sending a “valentine’s card,” hearts, doves and Cupids – full of symbols both unique and universal – Valentine’s Day has evolved into a very special American holiday.   This talk will examine this celebration of romantic love and affection in terms of American culture, with an eye on how the idiosyncratic influences of advertising and consumerism have influenced gender roles and the meaning of romantic love.


Katherine G. Aiken is Professor of History at the University of Idaho, where she served as History department chair from 2001-2005.   She has been Dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences since 2006.    She is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the University Award for Teaching Excellence, the ASUI Outstanding Faculty Award, and the Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Faculty Award. She is the author of articles dealing with Idaho’s first woman member of the United States Congress, Gracie Pfost; environmental history; 20th Century Idaho history; and the Coeur d’Alene mining district. Her books are Harnessing the Power of Motherhood: The National Florence Crittenton Mission, 1883-1925 (University of Tennessee Press, 1998) and Idaho’s Bunker Hill: The Rise and Fall of a Great Mining Company, 1885-1981 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005). Aiken and Idaho State University colleagues Kevin Marsh and Laura Woodworth-Ney co-wrote a short history of Idaho under the auspices of the Idaho State Historical Society—Idaho:  The Enduring Promise (Cherbo Press, 2006).   She is the Idaho Humanities Council Chair-elect and a member of the State Department of Education Professional Standards Commission.




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