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American historian discusses Civil War's 150th anniversary

March 10, 2011

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KALAMAZOO--The sesquicentennial of the Civil War and its implications for American history are topics of a free lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, in the Fetzer Center Auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University.

Photo of Dr. David Blight.American historian Dr. David Blight will deliver the annual H. Nicholas Hamner Lecture. He is professor of American history at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

Blight is the award-winning author of "A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including their Narratives of Emancipation" and "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory." He also has written, edited and co-edited numerous other published works. His current projects include writing a book on the anticipation of the 2011-15 Civil War sesquicentennial that is rooted in the work of Robert Penn Warren and compares the 100th anniversary of America's most pivotal event to its 150th. He has begun work on a new, full biography of Frederick Douglass that will be published by Simon and Schuster by 2013.

In addition, Blight is a frequent book reviewer for the Washington Post Book World, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Slate.com and other newspapers. He has written many articles on abolitionism, American historical memory, and African American intellectual and cultural history, and he is one of the authors of the bestselling American history textbook for the college level, "A People and a Nation." He is also series advisor and editor for the Bedford Books series in American History and Culture, a popular series of teaching books for the college level.

Blight lectures widely in the U.S. and around the world on the Civil War and Reconstruction, race relations, Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and problems in public history and American historical memory. He teaches summer institutes for secondary teachers and for park rangers and historians in the National Park Service, devoting a good deal of time to these and many other public history initiatives. Blight has been a consultant to many documentary films, including the 1998 PBS series, "Africans in America," and 2004's "The Reconstruction Era."

He has a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University. He has taught at Harvard University, at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and for seven years was a public high school teacher in Flint, Mich. He was also a senior Fulbright Professor in American Studies at the University of Munich in Germany in 1992-93.

Blight's visit to WMU is made possible by an endowment established in 1999 by Dr. H. Nicholas Hamner, WMU professor emeritus of history, who retired in 1992. The first Hamner Lecture was held in November 2000. The lecture series he funded is designed to bring to WMU outstanding historians to peak on topics of interest to students, faculty members and the larger community.

For more information, contact Dr. Edwin Martini, associate chair of the Department of History, at edwin.martini@wmich.edu or (269) 387-4487 or visit wmich.edu/history/hamner.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

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