Click here to skip to content

Forthcoming events and conferences

The Eccles Centre for American Studies regularly organises and supports conferences, seminars, lectures and other events on North American and transatlantic themes, often in partnership with other institutions and organisations.

Hiawatha's Wedding Feast by Samuel Coleridge Taylor

When Monday 20 October 2014, 13.00-14.00
Where Entrance Hall, British Library
Price Free

Join the British Library and British Museum Singers (conductor Peter Hellyer) for a performance of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast by Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. The programme will also include an arrangement of 'Summertime' from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’. The British Library holds the manuscript of Hiawatha, which you can see in our Online Gallery. The concert will be accompanied by Giles Ridley on the piano.

Afrika Bambaataa: 40 Years of Hip Hop

When Thursday 27 November 2014, 19:00-20:30
Where Conference Centre, British Library
Price £10/£8/£7 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

Afrika Bambaataa, often considered the ‘Godfather of Hip-Hop’ and the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation movement, was a block party DJ, promoter and community leader in 1970s South Bronx. Out these activities a conscious, highly creative Hip Hop culture was born and continues to inspire people worldwide. Bambaataa went on to create musical classics such as Planet Rock and recorded with everyone from James Brown to John Lydon. Always politically engaged, he co-staged a Wembley Stadium concert to mark Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, and is now a visiting scholar at Cornell University. In this conversation with broadcast music journalist Jacqueline Springer he explores the past, present and future of a street culture that became a global phenomenon.

London-based Jacqueline Springer is a print and broadcast journalist and university lecturer. She wrote for a number of specialist black music publications (Blues & SoulHip Hop Connection); broad-sheets (The GuardianThe ObserverThe Independent); lifestyle publications and international imprints Vibe (USA), Bounce (Japan) before joining the BBC. Jacqueline is currently an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University's London Program and at Fordham University (London Liberal Arts Program). She is also a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster.

This event is presented in partnership with Universal Zulu Nation UK.

Symposium: 100 Years of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation

When Friday 28 November 2014, 12:30-17:00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price Free (Reservation via Eventbrite)

Inspired by the centenary of one of the most controversial films ever made, this symposium will consider the issues raised by the film, such as popular culture, national mythologies, the American South, racism, transnationalism, memorialisation, art, politics and ethics.

The symposium will feature a keynote lecture by Michael Hammond (University of Southampton) as well as panel sessions showcasing current scholarship.

Light refreshments will be provided.

The symposium is organised in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and the University of Manchester.

* * * * *

The symposium marks the launch of a multi-disciplinary network which will be hosting a year-long programme of events from November 2014 to November 2015 exploring the centenary of The Birth of a Nation, in partnership with public institutions and educational projects, including the International Slavery Museum and the Race Relations Centre, Manchester.

For more information on the network and its programme of events, please contact Ian Scott (University of Manchester),, and Jenny Barrett (Edge Hill University),

The Search for Franklin's Lost Ships

When Monday 1 December 2014, 18:30-20:00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £10/£8/£7 Book via the BL Box Office

This year the Canadian Government led the biggest search yet to find Sir John Franklin’s lost ships. On 9 September Prime Minister Harper announced that one of the ships has been discovered.

On May 19, 1845 HMS Erebus and HMS Terror departed Greenhithe under Franklin’s command to find and navigate the Northwest Passage. Except for a brief meeting with whalers and occasional encounters with the Inuit, the crews of the vessels would never be seen alive again.

Join us for a discussion on the fate of the expedition with marine archaeologist Ryan Harris. Ryan has been involved in six campaigns to find the ships and worked on the team that made the recent exciting discoveries.

In partnership with the Canadian High Commission.

This event is part of the events programme for the free Lines in the Ice exhibition.

Darker Hauntings: Imagery of the Southern Gothic

When Friday 16 January 2015, 18:45-20:00
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £5/£4/£3 Booking will be available via the BL Box Office shortly

Delve into the depths of the American gothic imagination as Susan Castillo Street explores what Southern Gothic reveals about America’s repressed past. Taking in Edgar Allan Poe, George Washington Cable, Charles Chesnutt, William Faulkner and Truman Capote, this wide ranging discussion will consider how the South’s complex relationships with race and sexuality are manifested through powerful recurring images such as the collapsing haunted mansion, the racialized doppelganger and the monstrous feminine. Push aside the hanging moss and join us, if you dare…

Susan Castillo Street, a native of Louisiana, is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor of American Studies at King’s College London. Professor Castillo Street is known for her interdisciplinary work on race, gender and ethnicity. Her research interests include the Southern Gothic, Native American and colonial writing. She is currently conducting research for her new book Darker Hauntings: Writing Race and Slavery in the Early Atlantic (Louisiana State University Press), and is co-editing an essay collection, A Handbook to the Southern Gothic (Palgrave Macmillan).

This event is part of the events programme for the Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition.

Workshop: Emerging UK Research on the Arctic

When Monday 16 March 2015, am
Where British Library Conference Centre

As part of the British Library exhibition ‘Lines in the Ice’, The Eccles Centre for American Studies is inviting UK postgraduate students to present their research as part of a morning workshop in the British Library Conference Centre.

Call for papers:

Students are invited to submit proposals for short papers (15 minutes) on their work that will become part of two sessions of presentation and discussion. Submissions should take the form of a title, short abstract and biography (c. 150 words in total), sent to Dr Philip Hatfield (Curator for Canadian and Caribbean Collections and lead curator for ‘Lines in the Ice’) at: The call for papers closes on 1st December 2014.

This workshop will be followed by an afternoon symposium on 'Alaska, the Arctic and the US Imagination', as well as an evening event in collaboration with the US Embassy (to mark the United States’ role as Chair of the Arctic Council in 2015). Attendees for these events will be encouraged to take part in the student workshop discussions and students from the morning session are similarly invited to stay for the afternoon and evening events.

Symposium: Alaska, the Arctic and the US Imagination

When Monday 16 March 2015, pm
Where British Library Conference Centre

To mark the British Library exhibition ‘Lines in the Ice’ and the United States’ 2015 role as Chair of the Arctic Council, the Eccles Centre for American Studies is organising a half day symposium on the US and the Arctic. Looking at the history of American interest in the Arctic, as well as its contemporary relationship with the area, the symposium asks what the roots of this enchantment are as well as how the Arctic influences the US view of itself and the rest of the world.

Call for Papers:

Proposals for papers are invited from across the humanities and sciences with a view to organising two panel sessions of three papers, rounded off by a keynote address. This will be provided by Dr Michael Robinson (Hillyer College, University of Hartford), author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture.

Submissions should take the form of a title, short abstract and biography (c. 150 words in total), sent to Dr Philip Hatfield (Curator for Canadian and Caribbean Collections and lead curator for ‘Lines in the Ice’) at: The call for papers closes on 1st December 2014.

At the beginning of the day the Eccles Centre will also invite UK post-graduate students working more broadly on research relating to the Arctic to provide short (15 minute) presentations on their work, or an aspect of it. The two sessions of presentations will be underpinned by an audience discussion and those presenting in the afternoon conference would be welcome to participate.

The conference will be followed by an evening event organised in collaboration with the United States Embassy. All conference attendees and speakers are invited to attend.

Top of Page Top of page