Belmont University Announces 2020 Humanities Symposium Lineup for Sept. 28 – Oct. 2

Virtual Event to Explore Theme of 'A More Perfect Union: Dialogue and Democracy'

Belmont’s 2020 Humanities Symposium is scheduled for Monday, September, 28 – Friday, October 2. Now in its 19th year, the symposium will investigate the essential relationship between democracy and dialogue in bringing to fruition the “more perfect union” envisioned even if imperfectly by the founding fathers, how the making of such a union can only come about and be sustained through a constantly occurring process, an “act…not a state” as Congressman John Lewis so aptly put it in his last words.

Ahead of Belmont hosting the October 22 Presidential Debate on campus, the third and final in the 2020 election season, this year’s online symposium will consider how such dialogues occur, past and present, in the United States and globally, through attention to language, imagery, symbol, story and space. Presentations and papers by guest scholars and by Belmont faculty and students will address questions such as “what calls us toward community” and “what deepens divides?”

Dr. Susan Neiman, the director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany, will be discussing her most recent work, Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil. Belmont’s David Dark and Neiman will host a conversation on the main ideas of her book for students to learn more.

Washington University sociologist Dr. David Cunningham will explore the dimensions of division and dialogue, place and space in relation to historical and contemporary racial violence through his event, “The Weight of the Past: Engaging Legacies of White Supremacy and Racial Injustice.” With an eye on ongoing struggles over the memorialization of the racialized past through monuments and the commemorative landscape in America, Cunningham will discuss how the legacies of racial injustice continue to invade and inform our spaces, discourses and worldviews.

Dr. Rachel Louise Martin, a writer and public intellectual, has published work in O Magazine, Oxford American, The Atlantic online and CityLab. She will share and discuss how “change occurs when thousands of ordinary people living in quiet backwaters decide to fight for the American dream,” through her presentation, “’A Mother’s Advice is Always Safest:’ The Woman Who Wrote the Letter That Changed American History.”

Dr. Joy Jordan Lake’s session will be interactive by looking at social justice inside of classic literature and the change these novels provoked. Having written multiple other novels, Dr. Lake focuses on narratives of enslaved women of color and white women of the mid-19th century.

The 2020 Humanities Symposium “A More Perfect Union: Dialogue and Democracy” strives to start productive conversation and thoughts amongst the student body as Belmont hears from well-credited speakers. An overview of the schedule can be found below, while more information, links and summaries of featured programs are available on the Humanities Symposium’s web page.

Monday, September 28

10 a.m.
Space, Thirdspace and in-between: Concepts of Connectedness in the East and West
Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Japanese Language Dr. Christopher Born

1:30 p.m.
Toward a More Perfect Union: The Role of Dialogue in the Pursuit of Happiness
Belmont faculty panelists Pete Kuryla (History), Nathan Griffith (Political Science) and Dorren Robinson (Media Studies)

Tuesday, September 29

2 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Dr. David Cunningham, Chair, Department of Sociology at Washington University
The Weight of the Past: Engaging Legacies of White Supremacy and Racial Injustice

3 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum, Germany
What We Can Learn from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil: A Moderated Discussion

Wednesday, September 30

11 a.m.
Learning to Live Together in the Same House: Reflections on My Father’s Time as a Volunteer Lawyer in Mississippi, Science Fiction and the Challenge of Achieving True Dialogue
Belmont English Professor Dr. Maggie Monteverde

1 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Andrea Fanta, Nashville Public Library
Votes for Women: Enshrining a Moment and a Movement

2 p.m.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Rachel Louise Martin
“A Mother’s Advice Is Always Safest:” The Woman Who Wrote the Letter That Changed American History

5 p.m.
Reflections on Black Voices and Democracy
Belmont English Professor Dr. Heather Finch and her class

Thursday, October 1

10:30 a.m.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Joy Jordan Lake
Unearthing the Past, Rebuilding the Present: the Role of Fiction in Addressing History, Re-Imagining Human Community and Enacting Social Change

6 p.m.
Readings by the Winners of the Sandra Hutchins Symposium Creative Writing Competition

Friday, October 2

11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
One Vote: Every Vote Tells a Story documentary film followed by discussion
Christine Doeg and Dr. Mike Pinter, Belmont Math and Teaching Center

2:30 p.m.
Closing Open Mic Discussion: Speaking of Voting
Dr. Mike Pinter, Belmont Math and Teaching Center