NEH Summer Institute

Sunday, Jun 11, 2017 - Friday, Jun 23, 2017

Recognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory, and the American Public

This NEH Summer Institute, Recognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory and the American People,  will engage scholars—college and university professors, adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty—in an exploration of how we as a country recognize, remember, and memorialize controversial people and events in the American past as viewed with a presentist lens. With some of the leading scholars on history and memory, we will explore slavery and its legacy, the Confederacy,  the Jim Crow era, lynching, twentieth-century politicians, and the Civil Rights movement and discuss how communities grapple with the memorialization of controversial figures and subjects in the public space.

What does it mean to talk about moving or taking down statues of figures once deemed heroic and worthy of public commemoration? Are public monuments themselves history, or works of art that demonstrate the values of a particular time and place? Readings, scholarly lectures, research in primary sources, and select site visits will help to cultivate a deeper understanding among participants of the contested ground between history and memory and the ways in which we as scholars can play a meaningful role in engaging the American public in a national conversation about this important subject. This proposed NEH Institute aligns squarely with the NEH’s initiative, The Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square, which connects the study of humanities to the current conditions of national life.

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National Endowment for Humanities

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