Bale Boone Symposium to Explore Impact of Violence on Europe

By Whitney Hale

(Feb. 15, 2016) — As part of yearlong examination of violence and the human condition, University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities will bring together a group of international scholars to explore historic episodes of violence and their impacts on Europe at the 2016 Bale Boone Symposium"Europe Today and the Memory of Violence," running Feb. 17-19, at the UK Athletics Auditorium in William T. Young Library. The symposium is free and open to the public.  

Today, Europe has come to symbolize the possibility of peace and cooperation among peoples, but the collective memory of the continent remains haunted by the memory of its violent past. Has Europe truly exorcised the specter of violence? Is violence a necessary product of the self-assertion dictated by modern European forms of subjectivity? The Bale Boone Symposium, being presented in conjunction with UK College of Arts and Sciences' "Year of Europe" programming, will bring together speakers from a wide range of disciplines to consider these questions.

The symposium will open with a keynote lecture presented by World War I historian Jay Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. Winter's talk, "Violence, Memory and the Sacred: The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust," will focus on a contrast between the continuing presence today of the sacred language of martyrdom in some parts of Europe (and elsewhere), and the fading away or disappearance of the language of martyrdom in other parts by looking at the two contrasting cases of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. While martyrdom is at the heart of how Armenians today remember the catastrophe of 1915, there has emerged since the 1940s a very different linguistic register in Jewish responses to the Holocaust, one by and large free of the language of martyrology. Winter's lecture will explore these differences beginning 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17.  

A specialist on World War I and its impact on the 20th century and one of the pioneers of the field of the history of memory, Winter is the author or co-author of a dozen books, including "Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History," "1914-1918: The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century" and "Remembering War: The Great War between History and Memory in the 20th Century." He is co-director of the project on "Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin 1914-1919," and was co-producer, co-writer and chief historian for the PBS series “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century,” which won Emmy, Peabody and Producers Guild of America awards for best television documentary in 1997.

The following evening, the symposium's second keynote address, "A Glorious War? Contemporary Russia Reimagines the First World War," will be delivered by UK's own Karen Petrone, chair of the Department of History. After more than 70 years of the Soviet Union rejecting the First World War as an "imperialist war," it fell to the Soviet Union's successor state of Russia to commemorate the war's centenary in 2014. Exploring the creation of Russia's first national memorial to the war in Moscow and the founding of a World War I History Museum in Tsarskoe Selo, Petrone argues that Russia's new remembrance of World War I is an integral part of Vladimir Putin's campaign to re-nationalize, re-militarize and re-masculinize contemporary Russia. Petrone's lecture will begin 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, and will be followed with a reception.

Petrone's primary research interests are cultural history, gender history, propaganda, representations of war, and the history of subjectivity and everyday life, especially in Russia and the Soviet Union. She is the author of "The Great War in Russian Memory," which challenges the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union, and "Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin," as well as co-editor of "The New Muscovite Cultural History," "Gender Politics in Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspectives" and "Everyday Life in Russia." Petrone is currently co-authoring a textbook for Oxford University Press titled "The Soviet Union and Russia, 1939-2015: A History in Documents."   

Several experts on violence in Europe will present the final day of the 2016 Bale Boone Symposium, which begins with introductory remarks at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19. Topics and lecturers on the agenda are as follows:

· 9:15 a.m., "The French Revolution and the European Memory of Violence," Jeremy D. Popkin, the William T. Bryan Endowed Chair in History at UK Department of History;

· 10 a.m., "Law, Morality, and Violence in Nazi Germany," Herlinde Pauer-Studer, associate professor of philosophy at University of Vienna;

· 11:15 a.m., "'Inadmissible' but Secondary: Algerians, the Parisian Police and the Afterlives of State Terror," Lia Brozgal, associate professor of French and Francophone studies at University of California, Los Angeles;

· 1:30 p.m., "Weapons of Mass Instruction: Historical Narratives as a Destructive and Reconstructive Force in Former Yugoslavia," Charles Ingrao, professor of history at Purdue University;

· 2:30 p.m., "Narcissistic Group Dynamics and the Threat of Violence within Liberal Democracy," Stefan Bird-Pollan, assistant professor of philosophy at UK;  and

· 3:45 p.m., "Aftermath of Violence: Reconceptualizations of Trauma," Sara Beardsworth, associate professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The day of events will close with a roundtable discussion scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m.

Historically, the Bale Boone Symposium brings together the citizens of Lexington, Gaines Fellows and other members of the university community to explore themes and genres in the arts and humanities.

The 2016 Bale Boone Symposium, "Europe Today and the Memory of Violence," is being presented as part of a year of programming around the broad theme of "Violence and the Human Condition" being sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Gaines Center. Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, faculty members from many different UK departments have collaborated with each other and with visiting experts from other universities in a series of mini-conferences and workshops. The symposium is also a recipient of support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Gaines Center for the Humanities is part of part of the Academy for Undergraduate Excellence within the UK Division of Undergraduate Education.

For more information on the 2016 Bale Boone Symposium "Europe Today and the Memory of Violence," contact Jeremy Popkin at or the Gaines Center at 859-257-1537.

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