In the last few months a series of “culture wars” have been ignited across the country. Activists from all points of the political spectrum, even the President of the United States himself, are turning to beloved cultural objects to stake a claim for their differing beliefs in a politically fraught moment. Black athletes are taking a knee. Anti-immigration voters are rallying for a wall. Long-standing Confederate monuments are coming down.

What is at stake in the ways we understand culture and cultural conflict? High Stakes Culture is a new series, presented by the Institute for the Humanities and the Humanities Collaboratory, that brings humanities perspectives to bear on current debates. Join us as we ask: How and why does culture matter so much now?

Upcoming High Stakes Culture Events

High Stakes Culture: What Does It Mean to Take a Knee?
January 23, 2018, North Quad, Space 2435, 5:30-7pm

Join the conversation as humanities scholars Angela Dillard (Afroamerican and African studies and Residential College), Matthew Countryman (history and American culture), Mark Clague (music), and Kristin Hass (American culture) tackle these questions and others you might have about high stakesculture now.

  • When did sports and patriotism become so deeply linked?
  • Has the flag always been viewed as sacred and purely a symbol of the armed forces?
  • Where did the national anthem come from, and have people always stood when it is played?
  • Who gets to decide what symbols deserve respect and what counts as a gesture of respect?

High Stakes Culture: Why Monuments? Why Now?
March 7, 2018, North Quad, Space 2435, 5:30-7pm

A conversation about why and how monuments matter, and what’s behind the torch-bearing white nationalists worshipping at the feet of Confederate monuments..

We’ll ask questions like:

  • Who built the monuments, and when and why were they built?
  • How does the memorialization of the past matter to the present?
  • Should a new understanding of history shape the way we interpret monuments to the past?

Join the conversation and hear what humanities scholars are saying about high stakes culture, and what we may have to gain when we lose.