New College of Charleston public lecture series addresses memory, division, healing

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The College of Charleston's new lecture series addresses the issue of monuments, like the Calhoun statue in Marion Square. - RENDERING OF ORIGINALLY-PROPOSED CALHOUN MONUMENT FROM 'NEWS & COURIER,' APRIL 26, 1887CHARLESTON COUNTY LIBRARY/NEWS & COURIER
  • Rendering of originally-proposed Calhoun monument from 'News & Courier,' April 26, 1887Charleston County Library/News & Courier
  • The College of Charleston's new lecture series addresses the issue of monuments, like the Calhoun statue in Marion Square.

The College of Charleston will be presenting a series of free, public lectures through the spring, covering topics from "memorial vernacular," to cultivating peace, to slavery and war in the Atlantic world.

English Professor Simon Lewis describes the series, which delves into and elucidates tensions running from the past through the present day, as a "collection of public lectures and forums that address historical trauma and the ways in which sites that have experienced such trauma have moved, or might move towards building a sustainable, peaceful community."



Events started in January, but there are plenty more to take in. Tonight, Feb. 7 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom, author and professor James E. Young will discuss his book, The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Space Between, tracing an "arc of memorial vernacular."

Other highlights of the series include a peace initiative running March 5-10 with all events — from a lecture on forgiveness to cultivating peace within the self — held in the Stern Center Ballroom; a Deidre Cooper Owens lecture held March 6 at Addlestone Library entitled, "Medical Bondage: How Slavery Advanced American Gynecology;" and a conference April 28 and 29 featuring keynote speaker Michael Arad, the Israeli-American architect who designed the 9/11 monument in New York City and will design the Mother Emanuel Memorial here in Charleston.


In an explanatory essay on the series, Lewis references the idea of talk therapy, and how just as individuals suffering from trauma benefit from reliving and bringing to light their experiences, communities, too, can ameliorate ills by actively addressing past wrongdoings:

"Despite the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, the scars of slavery and of institutionalized racism in the United States are still present, manifesting themselves in a variety of ways, including continued systemic discrimination as well as individual acts

of violence," writes Lewis. "In the latter case, the mass murder of nine of our fellow citizens while at prayer in the Mother Emanuel Church in June 2015 reminded us all that Charleston, our beautiful home city, is also a site of trauma, suffering from the suppressed memories of native genocide, two centuries of racialized slavery, and a century of legalized racial discrimination. Although contemporary historians have put the story of these traumas into print, the visible, material landscape still suppresses the trauma: public memorials and the demographics of urban space still render Native American and African American experience virtually invisible."

For more details on the series, and to find a full schedule of slated events, go to claw.cofc.edu.

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