Student and Academic Life

Apply Now for Seminar on Historical Memory of Slavery Presented by Gaines Center

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 9, 2019) More than 150 years after emancipation, slavery remains a fundamental problem in American life. University of Kentucky students are invited to examine the impact the historical memory of slavery continues to have today as part of the 2020 Bingham Seminar led by Daniel Vivian, chair of the Department of Historic Preservation in UK College of Design. Applications for this seminar, presented by the Gaines Center for the Humanities, are due Dec. 13.

How have Americans remembered the practice of slavery and what purposes have those memories served? What accounts for surging interest in slavery and its legacy today? Vivian’s course will examine the historical memory of slavery since the Civil War.

The upcoming Bingham Seminar, HMN 300: Slavery in American Memory, will focus on the political and cultural significance of remembrance — the combination of remembering and forgetting that has shaped public views of the past and perspectives of particular social groups. Students in this course will investigate narratives of the Civil War and emancipation, romanticizing of the Old South, African Americans’ views of emancipation and racial progress, and 20th-century debates over race, equality and citizenship.

The seminar will include field trips to sites of slavery and remembrance in Central Kentucky. Students will also examine recent controversies over Confederate memorials, plantation tourism, and efforts to develop honest and compelling depictions of slavery at historic sites.

The 2020 Bingham Seminar will end with a one-week trip to coastal South Carolina in mid-May where students will visit the Lowcountry and sites associated with slave trade, historical plantations and Reconstruction, as well as meet with historians, interpretive specialists, and activists working to tell the story of slavery and confront racism.

Each student selected for the Bingham Seminar will receive $1,000 to offset the costs of travel. With a limited enrollment of 10 students, the seminar is scheduled to meet 1-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays during the spring semester at the Gaines Center’s Bingham-Davis House.

To apply for the Bingham Seminar, students are asked to send an email addressing the following questions:

  1. Why are you interested in this course? What do you hope to learn from it and how do you believe it will serve your educational goals?
  2. What courses have you taken that relate to slavery and emancipation in the United States and in other former slave societies?
  3. Are you able to commit to participating in the trip to South Carolina in mid-May? If you are a senior who expects to graduate in May, are you willing to postpone your official graduation in order to participate in the trip? (Students who take this option will participate in a commencement ceremony in May and officially receive their diplomas later in the summer).

Responses to the questions above should be emailed to Professor Daniel Vivian at by Friday, Dec. 13.

Students selected to participate in the 2020 Bingham Seminar will be notified by Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK's campus. The Gaines Center is designed to enrich the study of the humanities as an intellectual activity and as a means to self-betterment. The center offers courses and sponsors activities that appeal to faculty and students in all disciplinary fields.

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