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Monday, September 28th
10:00 AM

Space, Thirdspace, and in-between: concepts of connectedness in the East and West

Christopher Born


10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

As we embark on a humanities symposium that discusses the ongoing processes of building democracy, inclusion in the public space, and discourses civil and uncivil, this opening lecture introduces Japanese sociolinguistic concepts of connectedness, human relationships to space, and aesthetic arrangements of human life in the built environment. Engaging with Edward Soja’s concept of the “thirdspace,” this talk examines how people in majority and margin occupy, conceptualize, and co-create spaces both physical, and in the current environment, virtual. Slide lecture followed by Q&A.

1:30 PM

Toward a More Perfect Union: The Role of Dialogue in the Formation and Preservation of Democracy

Peter Kuryla, Belmont University
Nathan Griffith, Belmont University
Dorren Robinson, Belmont University


1:30 PM - 2:20 PM

Most people agree our society has rarely been so polarized, with many people unable to talk to anyone across what feels like a great chasm. It’s a state of affairs we should all be concerned about, and not just for personal reasons. A panel of Belmont faculty engage with the issue of the vital role dialogue has played and must continue to play in the evolution and ultimately survival of democratic forms of government, touching on figures as diverse as Arendt, Aristotle, and Tocqueville, ideas such as the political dimensions of “pursuit of happiness,” the vital importance of social and political bonds in shaping the common enterprise of government, and the role of the media in the communal conversation so essential to democracy.

Tuesday, September 29th
2:00 PM

The Weight of the Past: Engaging Legacies of White Supremacy and Racial Injustice

David Cunningham, Washington University in St. Louis


2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

Washington University sociologist David Cunningham will explore the dimensions of division and dialogue, place and space in relation to historical and contemporary racial violence. With an eye on ongoing struggles over the memorialization of the racialized past through monuments and the commemorative landscape in America, Dr. Cunningham will discuss how the legacies of racial injustice continue to invade and inform our spaces, discourses, and worldviews.

3:00 PM

What We Can Learn from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil—A Moderated Discussion

Susan Neiman, Einstein Forum


3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

In her recent book Learning from the Germans, philosopher Susan Neiman explores the story of the halting, difficult, and ongoing steps Germans took and are taking in their efforts to acknowledge and atone for the crimes of the Holocaust, relating their experience to the challenges and actions of American social justice advocates confronting our own violent history and the legacy of slavery, an issue which is at the core of all aspects of our national dialogue today. In a conversational format moderated by Belmont’s David Dark, Neiman will explore some of the central ideas of her book the purpose of which is not comparing two evils but rather seeing in the German process of coming to terms with its past hope for contemporary Americans working to engage us in a long-overdue national process of our own.

Wednesday, September 30th
11:00 AM

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

Maggie Monteverde, Belmont University


11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

“We are one house…we all live in the same house.” While John Lewis’ command to young people to make “Good trouble” seems to resonate most with many right now, in his speeches for at least the past ten years good trouble is to be untaken in the cause of living together in the “the world house, the American house, an old house,” and that is the image that has resonated most strongly with me, in part because it also picks up on a Bible verse I have long valued: “We live in houses we did not build.” But what does it take to live together in one house? My father’s report on his month spent in Mississippi in 1967 working with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law points to the importance of the give and take of true dialogue as one place to start, a lesson that several works of science fiction also illustrate in ways that often take us from past, to present, to the future.

2:00 PM

"A Mother's Advice Is Always Safest:" The Woman Who Wrote the Letter That Changed American History

Rachel Louise Martin


2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

When the fight for ratification moved to Tennessee, many suffragettes were ready to write off the amendment. They believed there was no hope for victory in the South. Then Febb Burn, a widowed mother in Appalachia, sent an eight-page letter to her son Representative Harry T. Burn, flipping his vote. Febb Burn's story challenged (and challenges) the idea that there is a solid, conservative, rural, white South, though there were a significant number of disenfranchised Southerners. She also reminds us that world-changing reform doesn't happen because famous people behave heroically; change occurs when thousands of ordinary people living in quiet backwaters decide to fight for the American dream. Illustrated talk followed by Q&A.

5:00 PM

Reflections on Black Voices and Democracy

Heather Finch, Belmont University
Kaitlyn Keplinger, Belmont University
Vakia Robinson, Belmont University
Aerial Towles, Belmont University


5:00 PM - 5:50 PM

This Fall semester, in preparation for the Debate and Presidential election, Dr. Heather Finch and her ENL 1895 class have been exploring the subject of Citizenship and African American Literature. Join them as they reflect, through lenses personal, historical, and literary, on the role of Black Voices in American Democracy, a topic which could not be more timely.

Thursday, October 1st
10:30 AM

Unearthing the Past, Rebuilding the Present: the Role of Fiction in Addressing History, Re-Imagining Human Community and Enacting Social Change

Joy Jordan-Lake


10:30 AM - 11:20 AM

In this interactive session, we will look at several examples of novels in classic literature concerned with social justice and how they attempted to bring about seismic change—or at least a shift in readers’ perspectives. Despite the flaws contemporary readers can find with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for example, Harriet Beecher Stowe powerfully used the vehicle of story to make her case for abolition. So effective was her persuasion, in fact, that numerous other authors attempted to imitate her tropes and plot devices for the pro-slavery cause—with chilling results. Analyzing such deeply traditional images as mothers with children or romantic courtships, we’ll investigate how certain authors have employed these to suggest a radically different political or economic order. Comparing the potential of fiction to whitewash the past (e.g. Gone with the Wind) or lay it bare (e.g. Toni Morrison’s Beloved), we’ll consider various classic and contemporary American novels, their part in the ongoing dialogue of democracy, and their role, at least potentially, in giving voice to a healthy, thriving, increasingly diverse culture.

6:00 PM

Readings by the Winners of the Sandra Hutchins Symposium Writing Competition

Jesse Goodman, Belmont University
Emily Hunt, Belmont University
Laura Huie, Belmont University
Aubrey Keller, Belmont University


6:00 PM - 6:50 PM

Each year in connection with the Humanities Symposium Belmont students are invited to submit poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction to the Sandra Hutchins Writing Competition. Writers of the top selections are invited to read portions of their submissions, which this year for the first time are being presented on a web site designed by Belmont English majors.

Friday, October 2nd
2:30 PM

Speaking of Voting

Michelle E. Shaw, Belmont University
Natalia Pelaz, Belmont University
Mike Pinter, Belmont University
Christine Doeg, Belmont University
Jimmy Davis, Belmont University


2:30 PM - 3:20 PM

In this, the final event of the symposium, we invite you to join a conversation about voting: why it matters, why it is important to you, voting as a form of collective dialogue essential to the process of democracy. Join us to share your own important memories of voting as well as practical questions you may have about the process itself.