History professor presents modern perspectives on Constitution Day


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Dr. Adam Shprintzen gives his Constitution Day lecture in the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life.

Katlynn Whitaker, Photography Editor

On Thursday, Sept. 17, the day after the second Republican debate, Marywood’s Department of Social Sciences sponsored a lecture in celebration of Constitution Day.

Assistant Professor of History Dr. Adam Shprintzen gave the lecture titled “Did George Washington Really Say That?” in the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life.

Junior history and political science major Nicole Tanana was one of the first to arrive and explained that she was very eager to hear the lecture.

“Being a history and political science major, anything about the Constitution draws me in,” she said. “I just took two Constitutional Law classes last year, so this will be a good supplement to that.”

After an introduction by Dr. Frances Zauhar, dean of the Munley College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Shprintzen began talking about Constitution Day and how people today misuse the Constitution’s information for their own political agendas.

“This day that celebrates both the Constitution and citizenship should be a reminder of how significant this document is to world history, but also remind us of its complications and contradictions,” he explained.

Shprintzen explained that people also misquote the founding fathers, particularly George Washington, through the use of Internet memes that are easily spread in today’s world.

He showed the room slides of different memes, and then explained the real quote and historical context.

“And there is an irony here, of course, because it is the moment in time when it is easiest to actually access copies of their own true, verifiable words,” he said.

Senior history secondary education major Meagan Oliveras was another student in attendance. She connected Shprintzen’s lecture topic to the previous night’s debate and the 2016 Election in general.

“I think it’s important because a lot of the candidates push Constitutional issues and people aren’t properly educated on the Constitution, the background of the Constitution and what every amendment means,” she explained.

Near the end of the lecture, Shprintzen also pointed out that while many quote Washington to justify not changing the ways of the government, Washington actually understood that government was meant to change.

“The Constitution itself was an incredibly unfinished document given the issues of the time,” explained Shprintzen.

Shprintzen is a new Social Sciences faculty member who joined Marywood in 2014. He specializes in American history with a concentration in reform movements and social history.

“His class is just very well-organized, a lot of information, definitely a lot of fun… I would recommend him for anybody,” said Oliveras.

Shprintzen comes to Marywood with prior experience with digital history projects. His lecture incorporated modern technology and pop culture into the overall importance of the Constitution and being educated on historical events.

“People often default to think that we need to study history in order to avoid past mistakes,” said Shprintzen.  “And while there is maybe something to this, I think that studying the early years of the United States as a country is informative because it also gives us insight into our current times.”

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