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Kent State University Holds Annual Symposium on Democracy, “Re-membering: Framing, Embracing, Revising History” (04/17/2009)

On May 4, 1970, Kent State University was thrust into the national spotlight when the Ohio National Guard’s gunfire killed four students and wounded nine others on campus. In 13 seconds, the lives and families of those 13 students were changed forever and the name Kent State became inexorably linked to that fatal day in May. On May 4 and 5, 2009, Kent State University will convene its 10th Symposium on Democracy, founded to honor the memories of the four students who lost their lives on that day – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder. As President Lester A. Lefton notes, the Symposium is “an enduring dedication to scholarship that seeks to prevent violence and to promote democratic values and discourse.” Each symposium explores a “critical question for our democratic society,” in the hope that “democracy can lead to a more peaceful world.”

This year’s symposium, “Re-membering: Framing, Embracing, Revising History,” will explore questions of how a society remembers and writes its history. Presenters will challenge the audience with questions such as:

·      When does the mediated story become history?

·      Do ethnicity, age, gender, nationality affect the telling of a story?

·      How does the medium affect understanding?

·      How do local events relate to broader backdrops?

·      What accounts for today’s “memory boom”?

·      Is history being re-written?

·      How do memorial spaces shape history?

·      How does history work contribute to the public good today?

In addition to contributing to national and international scholarship on historiography, cultural studies and public history, engagement in such questions will support work currently underway to design a May 4 Visitors Center within the historic site on the Kent campus. The permanent exhibit within the center and its companion Web site will offer an as-yet unwritten and unavailable history of May 4, 1970, an event that ’60s chronicler Todd Gitlin lists as one of the most pivotal moments of the decade and which is widely recognized as a turning point for the Vietnam War.

Featured presenters include documentary filmmaker Chris Triffo, whose treatment of May 4, shown to first-year students at Kent State, won the Emmy in 2001; renowned “public history” scholar Jay Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of history at Yale University; Ted Morgan, Distinguished Professor of political science at Lehigh University, expert on media culture and public memory and Renee Romano, associate professor of history at Oberlin College, a specialist in African American history and historical memory and co-editor with Leigh Raiford of the acclaimed anthology, “The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory.”

Individuals interested in attending the symposium can find a full schedule of events at All events are free and open to the public.


Media Contacts:

Laura Davis, 330-672-8561,

Lindsay Kuntzman, 330-672-9776, 


This page was last modified on September 8, 2009