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Fourth Annual Fall Humanities Symposium Focused on Ben Franklin

Belmont University’s Fourth Annual Fall Humanities Symposium will focus on the life of American “founding father” Benjamin Franklin and his continuing importance to American culture. The symposium starts Wednesday, October 26, and continues through Monday, October 31, with several events on the Belmont campus.


Here is the schedule of events.
‘Why It’s All About the Benjamin (Franklin, that is)’
A lecture by Dr. David Curtis, associate professor and chair of the English department. Dr. Curtis will give an overview of the symposium.
Wednesday, October 26, 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Massey Business Center Room 100
‘The Lost State of Franklin’
Lecture: Dr. Amy Sturgis, professor of liberal studies.
Dr. Sturgis will explore the history of the state of Franklin, which existed for four years after the American Revolution and included several counties that are now part of Tennessee.
Thursday, October 27, 11:00-12:00 a.m.
Massey Board Room,
‘Benjamin Franklin and the Question of National Character’
Keynote Address: Dr. Carla Mulford, Penn State University
Dr. Mulford will explore how Franklin’s writings represent the conflicting attitudes about empire, nationhood, and ‘race’ in his era, showing how, early in his career, Franklin’s ideas about different ethnic groups were shaped by the presumably liberal discourse of English nationhood. Later in his career, however, Franklin called England’s vaunted liberalism into question.
Thursday, October 27, 6:00-7:15 p.m.
Massey Board Room
‘Benjamin Franklin and Recreational Mathematics’
Lecture: Dr. Mary Goodloe and Dr. Andy Miller
Professors Mary Goodloe and Andy Miller will present insights into Benjamin Franklin’s interest in recreational mathematics – specifically his creation of ‘magic squares’ and ‘magic circles.’
Friday, October 28, 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Hitch Science Building Room 408,
‘Portraying Historical Characters’
Discussion/Performance: David Alford and Rene Copeland of the Tennessee Repertory Theatre production of 1776
David Alford and Rene Copeland from the Tennessee Repertory Company’s production of the musical 1776 discuss the rewards and challenges of performing historical characters.
Friday, October 28, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Belmont Little Theatre,
‘Rhetoric and Politics in Benjamin Franklin’s Pictorial Representations of British America’
Keynote Address: Dr. Lester Olson, University of Pittsburgh
Friday, October 28, 6:00-7:15 a.m.
Massey Board Room,
Dr. Olson will trace the fundamental changes in Franklin’s conceptions of British America through his creation of visual images (most notably the ‘Join or Die’ cartoon).
‘Historian as Detective: Solving the Mysteries in Franklin’s Papers’
Keynote Address: Dr. Ellen Cohn, Yale University, Editor of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
During the twenty-five years Dr. Cohn has spent poring over Franklin’s manuscripts she has cracked secret codes, traced spies, dated nearly all of Franklin’s undated bagatelles, and pieced together astonishing ‘hidden’ stories through jottings on scraps of paper and miscellaneous account book entries.
Saturday, October 29, 4:00-5:15 p.m.
Massey Board Room
Popcorn and ‘Pop’
Film and Discussion: National Treasure
Sunday, October 30, 3:30-7:00 p.m.
Leu Center for the Visual Arts Auditorium
The Symposium presents a screening and discussion of the 2004 action film National Treasure, starring Nicholas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a man who gets caught up in a plot to steal the Declaration of Independence.
‘Franklin at 300: What We Learned from the Symposium’Panel Discussion – Symposium Committee
The symposium concludes with panel discussion on what was learned about Benjamin Franklin from the symposium events.
Monday, October 31, 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Massey Business Center Room 100