Fearless Speech: Navigating Protest, Confrontation, and Freedom of Speech as a Young Historian

AHA Session 257
Monday, January 6, 2020: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Sutton South (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Amanda Scott, Penn State University
Stephanie Jones-Rogers, University of California, Berkeley
David Walsh, Princeton University
Leslie Whitmire, Georgia State University

Session Abstract

Historians have long been associated with the exercise of free speech and expression, especially through their writing, teaching, and documentation of censorship and violations in history. For some historians of civil rights or religious persecution, conversations about our responsibility as historians to speak out about abuses comes naturally, but for others, free speech within the historical practice is a learned professional responsibility. Right now, campuses across the country are scrambling to make sense of the implications of the recent executive directive concerning free speech; meanwhile, students who protest social injustices are being arrested and accused of violating the free speech of others. In this context, how do younger historians bring their research and long-term perspectives into these debates? And how do graduate students and un-tenured faculty navigate their contingent institutional positions to speak freely, in public and in the classroom? This panel invites perspectives on campus activism and controversies over first amendment rights in order to open up a conversation about the responsibilities graduate students and assistant professors have in promoting and facilitating the exercise and protection of free speech and assembly in university settings.
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