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Diane Brown
IU Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Experts gather at IUPUI to celebrate publication of newly edited Frederick Douglass autobiography

Sept. 19, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the nation's foremost authorities on the U.S. Civil War is the keynote speaker for a conference next month on the life and work of Frederick Douglass, best known historically as a runaway slave turned abolitionist in antebellum America. Douglass subsequently became one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Print-Quality Photo

The Frederick Douglass Papers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will host "Rediscovering the 'Life and Times of Frederick Douglass': A Public Symposium" on Oct. 4 and 5 at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

The Frederick Douglass Papers, one of five editorial projects in the Institute for American Thought in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, is hosting the two-day event in celebration of its publication of the first scholarly edition of "Life and Times of Frederick Douglass" -- Douglass' final autobiography.

"Douglass' third and final autobiography is his most complete account of his lifelong struggle on behalf of causes such as abolition, civil rights, women's rights, public education and temperance," said John R. Kaufman-McKivigan, the Douglass Papers director. "Our new critical edition of 'Life and Times" is the first time that the book's text has been freed of intrusive copy editing by 19th-century copy editors and restored to the powerful, uncompromising language that Douglass intended."

David W. Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, will deliver the keynote speech at the symposium, which is designed for anyone interested in Frederick Douglass' contribution to the improvement of race relations in this nation in the 19th century.

Blight will deliver his keynote address at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 in Room 450 of the IUPUI Campus Center.

The keynote speaker is one of the nation's leading scholars of 19th-century race relations and politics. He is also the author of the prize-winning "Frederick Douglass' Civil War" and a forthcoming new biography of Douglass.

In addition to Blight, approximately a dozen scholars, representing various disciplines, from IUPUI and universities around the United States will participate in the symposium.

"With this event, we get to celebrate and appreciate both Frederick Douglass himself and the work of 21st-century scholars to preserve, present and amplify his extraordinary voice," said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI where the Douglass Papers project is located. "Douglass remains vitally relevant today as one of history's most eloquent champions of human liberty and dignity."

While the symposium is free and open to the general public, special attention will be given to supplying insights and tools to educators to better explain Douglass' life and times to modern-day students, Kaufman-McKivigan said.

A public reception and book signing with Blight and Kaufman-McKivigan will follow the lecture on the fourth floor terrace of the IUPUI Campus Center.

The symposium continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 with a series of sessions led by IUPUI and visiting scholars.

Symposium sponsors include the IU School of Liberal Arts IUPUI; the Departments of English and History; the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute; the IUPUI Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Indiana Humanities.