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

  • Georgia Historical Society 501 Whitaker Street Savannah, GA, 31401 United States (map)

David Blight will give the Keynote Lecture & Discussion: History and Memory on June 12th for the two-week-long NEH Summer Seminar for Teachers, “Recognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory and the American Public,” hosted by the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, Georgia.

This two-week program will engage scholars—college and university professors—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, and what role scholars can play in the classroom and the public arena in shaping and leading this national discussion going forward. 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? Why is it important that we study, teach and remember subjects that are often painful, divisive, and controversial? Readings, scholarly lectures, research in primary sources, and select site visits will help to cultivate a deeper understanding among NEH Summer Scholars of the contested ground between history and memory and the ways in which we as scholars can play a meaningful role in engaging students and the American public in a national conversation about this important subject. This 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.

For more information on this NEH Summer Seminar:

For more information on the NEH:

Earlier Event: May 3
The Civil War, Race and Reunion
Later Event: June 16
The Charleston Forum on Race