History, Research, and Current Themes

"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

John Brown, Slavery, and the Legacies of Revolutionary Violence in Our Own Time:

A Conference Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Harpers Ferry Raid
Gilder Lehrman Center's 11th Annual International Conference
October 29-31, 2009

Discussions of the place of violence--its forms, its causes, its justice or injustice--in American history often begin with John Brown and his exploits in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in the 1850s. Brown's image has been appropriated by groups from the left and the right. He is a historical as well as a legendary figure, and often the myth overshadows the reality. This conference will explore the meaning and memory of John Brown as well as the problem of violence in American culture, past and present.

Conference Participants
Thursday, October 29
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Conference Registration

7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Performance

* Performance of John Brown: Trumpet of Freedom
Norman Thomas Marshall, Playwright and Actor
Introduction by Larry Lawrence, The John Brown Society

Friday, October 30
8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Coffee and Registration

9:00 - 9:15 a.m. Welcome Remarks

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Keynote Address

* W. Fitzhugh Brundage, UNC-Chapel Hill

10:30 - 11:00 a.m. Coffee Break

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Panel 1: John Brown: A Problem in Biography

* David Reynolds, City University of New York, Baruch College
How I Wrote John Brown, Abolitionist: A Cultural Biography
* Evan Carton, The University of Texas at Austin
The Word and the Life: John Brown as Reader
* Robert Blakeslee Gilpin,Center for the Study of the American South, UNC-Chapel Hill
The Wind and the Whirlwind: Can Biography Explain John Brown?
* Louis A. DeCaro, Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary
* Moderator: Annette Gordon Reed, New York Law School

1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Lunch

2:30 - 5:00 p.m. Panel 2: John Brown and the Arts

* Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw, University of Pennsylvania
John Brown Embodied: An Afterlife in American Visual Culture
* Franny Nudelman, Carleton University
From Armed Propaganda to Creative Suffering: John Brown and Traditions of Expressive Violence
* Kirke Mechem, Composer
John Brown: The Opera
* Robert Stepto, Yale University
John Brown in the Visual Art of Hovenden, Lawrence and Pippin
* Moderator: David W. Blight, Yale University

6:30 p.m. Speakers Dinner

9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Coffee and Registration

9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Panel 3: John Brown and the Legacies of Violence

* Beverly Gage, Yale University
Was John Brown a Terrorist?
* David Rapoport, UCLA
John Brown and the Legacies of Violence
* Kay Wright Lewis, Rutgers University
Considerations on the Rhetoric of Race War in the Antebellum South
* Caleb Smith, Yale University
* Moderator: David W. Blight, Yale University

11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Panel 4: John Brown and Abolitionism

* John Stauffer, Harvard University
'I'll be John Browned': Abolition in the Southern Imagination
* Richard Blackett, Vanderbilt University
John Brown and the Tradition of Attacking Slavery at the Source
* Caleb McDaniel, Rice University
William Lloyd Garrison, Nonviolent Abolitionists, and John Brown
* Wendy Hamand Venet, Georgia State University
John Brown, Female Abolitionists, and Rights for Women: A Mixed Legacy
* Moderator: David W. Blight, Yale University

3:00 - 3:15 p.m. Coffee break

3:15 - 4:30 p.m. Concluding Roundtable: John Brown: A Problem for Our Own Time

* Russell Banks, Author
* Tony Horwitz, Author

For further information, visit the conference website here

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