One great thing about living in this university city is that a lot of smart and interesting people come here to speak and you can hear them for free.
For more than two decades, the Gaines Center’s Bale Boone Symposium has offered the UK community as well as the Commonwealth a deep and sustained gaze at the humanities and the kinds of questions posed. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the UK Department of History, this year’s Symposium organized by Drs. Lisa Broome and Phil Harling of the Gaines Center focused on the still controversial “Legacies of the American Civil War.” (You can hear Dr. Harling’s interview on WUKY and more about the topic chosen for this year’s Symposium.)
The three lectures that inspired debates on campus – and we invite you to continue the dialogs online – were delivered by some of the most respected scholars in the U.S. today on this topic. The first lecture, “The Incomplete Civil War,” was presented by historian and digital humanities advocate Edward L. Ayers, currently the President of University of Richmond and senior research fellow at the Digital Scholarship Lab there. You can watch (or download and watch later) his presentation on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/121144143.
The second presentation was “Variation on the Word Dixie: Civil War Cultural Memory and a Song of the South,” by Coleman Hutchison in the Department of English at UT-Austin. Dr. Hutchinson is currently working on a book on the cultural history of the song, “Dixie,” that explores the controversies associated with the images and race-based assumptions over time. Ever since the song’s debut performance on Broadway in 1859, “Dixie” offered a powerful image of enslaved Blacks who wished they were in the “land of cotton” of the pre-Civil War U.S. South. This song continues to resound today in our imaginations, cultural biases and in defining descriptions for the region as a whole. Dr. Hutchison’s presentation is available on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/121158629.
And the third, “When Did the American Civil War End? Legacies in Our Own Time,” was presented by David Blight, a historian at Yale University where he also serves as the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition. (His popular introductory course on the Civil War and Reconstruction Era was recorded in 2008 and is freely available on Open Yale Courses for anyone to use for their own learning.) As Eblen described Dr. Blight’s answer to his presentation title’s question: “Sure, the shooting war stopped a century and a half ago. But the underlying issues — race, class, civil rights, social and economic justice, states’ rights and federalism — remain as fresh and raw as today’s headlines.” Watch or download Dr. Blight’s presentation for the 2015 Bale Boone Symposium on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/121811297.