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Rethinking Violence in African American History: History, Memory, Trauma

Professor of Modern U.S. History and African American Studies Nan Woodruff is organizing this conference which will examine the legacies of violence in African American history. The conference will be hosted at Penn State’s University Park campus on October 6-7, 2017 and will include leading scholars in the fields of history, anthropology, law, and political science, as well as activists, all of whom are engaged in path-breaking work on the legacies of racism and violence in U.S. history.

Additional details, program, and participants' bios.


Past Conferences

Remaking North American Sovereignty:  Towards a Continental History of State Transformation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

July 30-August 1, 2015, at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada

In 2015 the Richards Center joined with the University of Calgary in organizing an international conference, Remaking North American Sovereignty: Towards a Continental History of State Transformation in the Mid- Nineteenth Century. The conference took place from July 30 to August 1 at Canada’s renowned Banff Centre, an incubator for artistic, cultural, and intellectual projects. Convening amidst the 150th anniversaries of the end of the U.S. Civil War (1865), Canadian Confederation (1867), the restoration of the Mexican Republic (1867), and the prosecution of wars and signing of treaties between these states and Native Americans, the conference discussed shared patterns of change that remade the North American map in the 1860s. More than 60 leading scholars attended from Canada, England, Mexico, and the United States to pioneer a hemispheric approach to studying the profound social, political, and governmental transformations that took place throughout the continent in the Civil War era. As the conference organizers explained, the event allowed scholars the opportunity to examine “the real interconnections across the continent” to see “an inter-related struggle to re-define the relationship of North Americans to new governments.” Plans are under way to publish material from the conference in various venues, including in a special issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era titled Crises of Sovereignty in the 1860s.

Co-sponsor Frank Towers, Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary, noted that “the event exceeded expectations for all involved” and thanked the Richards Center for “playing the lead role in funding the conference” and making it possible.

The Richards Center’s co-sponsorship of the conference was made possible through the NEH’s We the People challenge grant.

You can view the conference program by clicking on this link.

The World the Civil War Made, June 21-22, 2013

The World the Civil War Made posterThe World the Civil War Made, a groundbreaking conference on Reconstruction, served as the 2013 Brose Lectures. The conference brought 15 leading scholars of the Civil War era to University Park to bring fresh insights to our study of Reconstruction. Marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of Eric Foner’s trailblazing work, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, the conference assessed a generation of Reconstruction scholarship inspired by Foner’s book and its emphasis on the revolutionary transformations of the post-war period. By wrestling with the concepts of revolutionary change and continuity, the conference provoked well-developed debates that challenged conventional understandings of Reconstruction and its legacy, while laying out pathways for future research.

Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winning historian Steven Hahn, of the University of Pennsylvania, kicked off the conference with a keynote address that reconsidered the extent of change and the persistence of continuity occasioned by Reconstruction.

The conference participants' revised and expanded papers subsequently appeared in The World the Civil War Made, edited by Gregory Downs and Kate Masur. The twelve essays collected in the volume explore how Reconstruction re-shaped politics and governance throughout the nation following the Civil War. The World the Civil War Made was published in September 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press as part of The Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Book Series.