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Past events and conferences 2014

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.


Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution

When   Friday 17 January 18.00 – 20.30
Where  Conference Centre, The British Library

The 1983 US-led invasion of Grenada was widely criticised. The United Nations (UN) called for a cessation of the ‘armed intervention’. While, the UN Security Council stated that it ‘deeply deplores the armed intervention in Grenada, which statutes a flagrant violation of international law.’ What were the circumstances that led to this extraordinary chain of events? This comprehensive, gripping and revealing documentary tells the story of the Grenada revolution as never before. The film features extensive, previously unseen file footage, as well as old and new interviews with many of the key players of the time. The film’s director, Dr Bruce Paddington, University of the West Indies, was present to discuss aspects of his film with the audience.
This event was convened by Karen Hunte (The Political Studies Association) and is sponsored by the Eccles Centre.


A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: African American Higher Education and Social Change

When   Monday 3 February 18.45 – 20.15
Where  Conference Centre, The British Library

From the end of the American Civil War until the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, exclusively black colleges and universities were at the centre of African American educational and intellectual life. Many significant black figures were graduates of these institutions, including Ralph Ellison, James Weldon Johnson, Edwin Moses and Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr Michael Lomax, President of the United Negro College Fund, will discuss the rich history and ongoing significance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The UNCF is the largest minority education organisation in the United States. It provides scholarships for students, financial support for HBCU member organisations and advocates nationally for the importance of higher education. Dr Lomax has led the UNCF since 2004. Previously he was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at UNCF member institutions Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. He served as chairman of the Fulton County Commission in Atlanta, the first African American elected to that post. Dr Lomax also serves on the boards of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of African American History and Culture and the Studio Museum of Harlem.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A and wine reception.

Free entry by reservation: email Eccles-centre@bl.uk to reserve tickets.

This event is sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies and supported by the US Embassy, London


Let’s Talk about Sex: Femininities and Masculinities in the Americas

When   Friday 14 February 2014 11.30-17.30
Where  Conference Centre, The British Library

This half day symposium provided a space to discuss ongoing work in detail, to receive peer feedback, and promote interdisciplinary and transnational dialogue. Through cultural and socio-historical lenses participants came together to explore the ways in which the embodiment and performance of femininities and masculinities have created and contested our understanding of identities in the Americas. This symposium promoted new thinking about the ways that language and performance have challenged prevailing cultural paradigms and affected change by empowering those who struggle to find a voice. The symposium schedule may be viewed here.

The symposium was organised by Eilidh A B Hall and Morwenna Chaffe from the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. Read more about what took place on the day.

This symposium was supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the University of East Anglia, and was organised in association with the Society for the History of Women in the Americas (SHAW).


Thomas Jefferson in Another Light

When Monday 17 February 18.45 – 20.00
Where Conference Centre, The British Library

When Thomas Jefferson was nearly 66 years old he retired from the American presidency, trading in his hectic public life for a tranquil private one. He envisioned his days spent outdoors overseeing the operations of his farms, and his evenings devoted to reading and enjoying the company of family and friends. But what Jefferson imagined for himself in retirement was often quite different from the reality of his life at Monticello, his Virginia plantation home. While some of the details of various events and issues can be extracted from his own writings, he remained characteristically reserved, sometimes completely silent, on others. What was Jefferson – father, grandfather, and friend – like in these last years of his life? What was his life like at Monticello? What effect did living with him have on his extended family and how did they perceive him? Lisa A Francavilla, Managing Editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, used family letters and other documents to enable her audience to view Jefferson from a far different perspective than that which he carefully crafted in his own correspondence.


In Woodrow Wilson’s Shadow: America’s Great War, 1914-2014

When    Friday 21 February 18.30 – 20.00
Where   Conference Centre

In the second Sulgrave Manor Watson Chair lecture to be hosted by the British Library, Professor David Reynolds reflects on America’s role in the World War I and how it has been remembered. At the centre of his story is the protean figure of Woodrow Wilson – variously seen as hero, villain and far-sighted prophet, lionized in turn by liberals and conservatives. But equally important is the conflict itself – successively re-interpreted through the lenses of the Depression, World War II and especially Vietnam.

This event is co-sponsored by Sulgrave Manor and the Eccles Centre.


British Leadership in the American Revolutionary War

When    Friday 28 February 18.45 – 20.00
Where   Conference Centre

The Revolutionary War was one that Britain seemingly should have won as a major military power. It is therefore commonly assumed that failure must have been due to the incompetence of the commanders and the politicians who are ridiculed in fiction and in movies. Andrew O’Shaughnessy will challenge such assumptions and offer a very different explanation of why Britain lost the American War of Independence.

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