Southern Intellectual History Circle Gathers at Mercer


MACON — The 25th annual gathering of the Southern Intellectual History Circle will be held at Mercer University Thursday through Saturday. The event is an annual gathering of scholars of the American South who discuss the intellectual currents of history, literature and culture of the region. On Thursday, the event kicks off with a keynote lecture, titled “A Retrospective on the Southern Intellectual History Circle, 1988-2013,” by Dr. Michael O'Brien, professor of American intellectual history at Cambridge University. The free public event begins at the Woodruff House at 5 p.m. with a reception to follow.

On Friday there will be three panel presentations in the Presidents Dining Room of the University Center. The first panel, from 9 to 11 a.m., will involve responses to the keynote lecture; the second, from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., will look at life in the antebellum period in light of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War; and the third, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., will examine how we understand the civil rights movement in the South since the 1960s on the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech.

On Saturday afternoon, there will be a gallery exhibit in Hardeman Hall of photographs taken by John Spivak, an investigative journalist who wrote a scathing expose of Georgia chain gangs in the early 1930s. Dr. David A. Davis will give a gallery talk from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The conference is co-sponsored by Mercer's Program in Southern Studies, the Office of the Provost and the College of Liberal Arts, and is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.

Full Schedule of the Intellectual History Circle Public Events


Woodruff House

5 p.m., Conference Keynote Address

A Retrospective on the Southern Intellectual History Circle, 1988-2013

Dr. Michael O'Brien

Professor of American intellectual history, Jesus College, Cambridge University


Conference Panels

Presidents Dining Room

University Center

9 -11 a.m. Responses to the Keynote Address

Chair, Dr. David Moltke-Hansen

Dr. Jane Dailey, history, University of Chicago

Dr. Susan Donaldson, English and American studies, The College of William and Mary

Dr. Michael Kreyling, English, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Steven Stowe, emeritus professor of history, Indiana University

11:15 a.m. -1:15 p.m.

Chair and respondent, Dr. Mitchell Snay, Denison University

Dr. Jonathan Wells, history, Temple University

“Charles Dickens, Slavery, and the American South”

Dr. Ian Binnington, history, Allegheny College

“Confederate Americanism; or, the Imagined Nationalism of the South in the American Civil War”

Dr. Michael Bernath, history, University of Miami

“The Confederacy as a Moment of Possibility”

2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Chair and respondent, Dr. Houston Roberson, University of the South

Dr. Randal Jelks, African-American studies, University of Kansas

“1963, Paths to Emancipation: Black Intellectuals and Activist and the Question of the Emancipatory Power of Black Religion”

Dr. Patricia Sullivan, history, University of South Carolina

“What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement?”

Dr. Trudier Harris, English, University of Alabama

“From Realistic Scoundrel to Magically Real Hero: Martin Luther King in Katori Hall's The Mountaintop”


Hardeman Art Gallery

3:30-4:30 p.m.

Gallery Talk

“Hard Times on the Georgia Chain Gang: Photographs of John Spivak”

Dr. David Davis, English, Mercer University