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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.

Mary Borden in the Forbidden Zone: An American Nurse at the Western Front

When Friday 3 October 2014, 18:45-20:15
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £5/£4/£3 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

Chicago heiress, society beauty, mother of three and a rising literary novelist, Mary Borden left her glamorous lifestyle behind in 1915 to run a French Army hospital at the Western Front. In this talk Hazel Hutchison  uncovers the story of how this extraordinary woman found herself at war, and explores her hauntingly powerful book about the conflict, The Forbidden Zone.

Written largely at the Front, Borden’s eerie, humane and sometimes darkly comic account of her time in the war zone, was silenced by censorship regulations when she first tried to publish it in 1917. Eventually issued in 1929 to a public still reluctant to accept the full horrors of the war, The Forbidden Zone reveals the terrible ironies of nursing under military command, and tells a little-known story of American idealism and service in the early years of the war.

Hazel Hutchison is the President of the Henry James Society and the Director of the Centre for the Novel at the University of Aberdeen. Her latest book, The War That Used Up Words: American Writers in a European Conflict, 1914-1918, will be published by Yale University Press later this year.

This talk is part of the events programme for the Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour exhibition.

Washington Confidential: an Insider’s Guide to the Mid-term Elections

When Monday 6 October 2014, 18:45-20:15
Where British Library Conference Centre
Price £5/£4/£3 Book tickets via the BL Box Office

Leading American political analyst Amy Walter will discuss the US Mid-Term Elections, taking place on 4 November, what they will mean for the Presidential Elections in 2016 and will offer some fascinating insights into how Washington works.

Amy Walter has built a reputation as an accurate, objective and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision-makers, through her work as an award-winning journalist. She is currently the National Editor of the Cook Political Report where she provides analysis of the issues, trends and events that shape the political environment. She was previously the political director of ABC News. Walter was named one of Washington DC's "50 Top Journalists" by Washingtonian Magazine in 2009 and honored with the Washington Post's Crystal Ball award for her spot-on election predictions in 2000.

This event is supported by the US Embassy, London.

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.

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