The Freedom Project Has Concluded

The Freedom Project was a year-long commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War that ran from August 2012 through April 2013. It explored the many meanings and histories of emancipation and freedom in the United States and beyond through a number of interdisciplinary campus events.

While the project has concluded, this website is still available for archival purposes.

Questions or comments should be directed to the Project director, James Marten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, at james.marten@marquette.edu.

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A year-long commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War that will explore the many meanings and histories of emancipation and freedom in the United States and beyond. More about the project

Project Sponsors

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Complete Events Listing

Freedom Project: Thenceforward, and Forever Free
Exhibit runs from August 22 - December 22, 2012

Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsors: Joan Pick Endowment Fund, a Marquette Excellence in Diversity Grant, the Marquette University Andrew W. Mellon Fund, the Martha and Ray Smith, Jr. Endowment Fund, the Nelson Goodman Endowment Fund, Richard P. Herzfeld Endowment Fund, the Chipstone Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the event

Thenceforward, and Forever Free is presented as part of Marquette University's Freedom Project, a yearlong commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The Project explores the many histories and meanings of emancipation and freedom in the United States and beyond. The exhibition features seven contemporary artists whose work deals with issues of race, gender, privilege, and identity, and more broadly conveys interpretations of the notion of freedom. Artists in Thenceforward are: Laylah Ali, Willie Birch, Michael Ray Charles, Gary Simmons, Elisabeth Subrin, Mark Wagner, and Kara Walker. The exhibition includes works in diverse media, from Wagner's 17-foot-tall collage made from 1,121 dollar bills to Simmons's site-specific chalk drawing installation to Subrin's two-channel, HD video. Paintings by Charles and Birch, drawings by Ali, and prints by Walker are also featured. Essayists for the exhibition catalogue are Dr. A. Kristen Foster, associate professor, Department of History, Marquette University, and Ms. Kali Murray, assistant professor, Marquette University Law School.

Visit the Exhibition website for more information.


Freedom Project: Text/Context
Exhibit runs from August 22 - December 22, 2012

Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsors: Joan Pick Endowment Fund, a Marquette Excellence in Diversity Grant, the Marquette University Andrew W. Mellon Fund, the Martha and Ray Smith, Jr. Endowment Fund, the Nelson Goodman Endowment Fund, Richard P. Herzfeld Endowment Fund, the Chipstone Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the event

History - the study of past human events, words, and creations - is an imprecise science. The authoritative words we read in history books often do not fully correspond with reality. This inconsistency applies not only to the interpretive words written by historians, but also to the original quotes uttered by figures from the past. In this gallery, you encounter a small gathering of objects that are in one way or another linked to the laudable concept of human freedom. Yet their stories are complex and, at times, conflicted. They suggest that understanding the past begins when we consider multiple perspectives and voices - when we replace the idea of "reading history" with the broader concept of "exposing histories."

Visit the Exhibition website for more information.


Freedom Project: Freedom Of/For/To
Exhibit runs from August 22 - December 22, 2012

Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsors: Joan Pick Endowment Fund, a Marquette Excellence in Diversity Grant, the Marquette University Andrew W. Mellon Fund, the Martha and Ray Smith, Jr. Endowment Fund, the Nelson Goodman Endowment Fund, Richard P. Herzfeld Endowment Fund, the Chipstone Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the event

The exhibition Freedom Of/For/To is comprised of contemporary photographs from the museum's permanent collection that explore the fluid definition of the word and elicit questions about our collective (mis)understanding of freedom at home and abroad. The photographers represented in the exhibition, including Adam Bartos, Edward Burtynsky, William Clift, Stella Johnson, Miguel Rio Branco, Irina Rozovsky, and Joel Sternfeld, offer a variety of viewpoints that encourage us to consider how we define and protect freedom in a global context.

Visit the Exhibition website for more information.


Opening reception for Thenceforward and Forever Free

August 29, 2012
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsor: Haggerty Museum of Art

Speaker: Steven Hahn
"The Dimensions of Freedom: Slave Emancipation, Indian Peoples, and the Projects of the New American State"
Klement Lecture

September 27, 2012
7:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites (lower level)
Sponsor: History Department's Klement Lecture Fund
About the speaker

Steven Hahn, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Hahn is the author of several books, including A Nation Under our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2004) which received the Pulitzer Prize in History. View the speaker's complete biography.


Commemoration of Banned Books Week

September 24 through October 8, 2012
Second Floor, Raynor Library
Sponsor: The Raynor Memorial Libraries
About the event

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. View the libraries Banned Books Week website to learn more.


October 1, 2012

Brown Bag Lunch Discussion on Freedom
The Four Freedoms, as Viewed from Latin America

October 1, 2012
noon to 1 p.m.
Coughlin 303, Conference Room
Sponsor: History Department
About the event

Laura Matthew of the History Department will be facilitating this discussion.


Banned Books: The Reading

October 1, 2012
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsors: Office of Student Development, Haggerty Museum of Art
About the event

Come hear faculty and administrators read excerpts from your favorite banned books. At 12:30 p.m., Larry Watson, Department of English, will read from and comment on having his own books banned. For a complete lineup of readers, go to.


Forbidden Film Festival:
Four Films Based on Banned Books

October 4, 2012
1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites B/C
Sponsor: Raynor Memorial Libraries
About the event

View four films based on Banned Books. A short discussion will follow each movie. Screening schedule:
1:00 PM: Lord of the Flies
3:00 PM: Howl
5:00 PM: Twilight
7:30 PM: Hunger Games


"A Vexed Question": John Quincy Adams and the fight against slavery

October 8, 2012
4:30 p.m.
Appellate Courtroom in Eckstein Hall
Sponsor: Performing Arts
About the event

Performed by Artists in Residence: The Fiasco Company, The Vexed Question, by Noah Brody, is a sweeping story of an often-ignored period of American history centering on the Congressional battles over the issue of slavery that dominated the 1830's and 1840's. John Quincy Adams at 63, having already served in almost every significant national office including the Presidency, the Senate, Secretary of State, and Ambassador, runs for the House of Representatives. There he discovers the greatest fight of his life - defending the right to petition and embracing the abolitionist cause against massive opposition from all corners. Marquette University is proud to support the staged reading of this new play.


American Slavery/American Freedom:
The Possibilities and Limits of Black Freedom in the Nineteenth Century

October 10, 2012
4:30 p.m.
Beaumier Suites, Raynor Library
Sponsor: History Department, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Fund
About the event

H. Robert Baker from Georgia State University, Kate Masur of Northwestern University and A. Kristen Foster from Marquette University will debate and discuss the possibilities and limits of black freedom in the nineteenth century.


Exhibit: Defining Freedom at Marquette in the 1960s and 1970s

October 15 through January 28, 2013
Second Floor Raynor Library
Sponsor: Raynor Memorial Libraries
About the event

As American college students in the 1960s and 1970s refused to abide by in loco parentis restrictions that had been imposed upon previous generations, this exhibit will illustrate how the Marquette community addressed changing expectations of personal freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom to demonstrate.


American Conference for Irish Studies
Midwest Regional Conference

October 18 through 20, 2012
Raynor Library, Beaumier Suites
Sponsor: The History Department, American Conference for Irish Studies
About the conference

Organized around the theme of "Emancipation: Ireland and the World," the conference hopes to encourage us to think about the concepts of freedom and citizenship as expressed by the Irish at home and around the world.

With its clear links to the long struggle for Catholic rights that culminated in 1829, emancipation raises questions about the part played by the Irish and Irish-Americans in the abolitionist and pro-slavery camps in the USA, as well as in the fight for women's rights and for the freedom of colonized peoples in all parts of the British Empire.

It could also focus on the struggles between economic, cultural, and political interconnectedness on the one hand and national sovereignty on the other, which are at the heart of contemporary debate. Lastly, emancipation spotlights the role of creative Irish men and women in stretching academic inquiry and artistic expression beyond the constraints of their society and disciplines.


Speaker: Eric Foner
Boden Lecture
"Reconstruction and the Origins of Birthright Citizenship"

October 18, 2012
4:30 p.m.
Eckstein Hall, School of Law
Sponsor: The School of Law
About the speaker

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, author of Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970; reissued with new preface 1995); Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy (1983); Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988) (winner, among other awards, of the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, and Los Angeles Times Book Award); The Story of American Freedom (1998); and The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (winner, among other awards, of the Bancroft Prize, Pulitzer Prize for History, and The Lincoln Prize), which was published in the fall of 2010. View the speaker's complete biography.


Speaker: Elisabeth Subrin
Curtis L. Carter Art and Social Change Lecture
"Recreating Missing Histories"

October 24, 2012
6 p.m.
Haggerty Museum of Art
Sponsor: Haggerty Museum of Art
About the speaker

Elisabeth Subrin, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Art at Temple University, is an artist and filmmaker who engages a wide range of genres, forms and contexts to create conceptually driven projects in film, video, photography and installation. Her work seeks intersections between history and subjectivity, investigating the nature and poetics of psychological "disorder," the legacy of feminism, and the impact of recent social and political history on contemporary life and consciousness. View the speaker's complete biography.


November 9, 2012

Brown Bag Lunch Discussion on Freedom

November 9, 2012
noon to 1 p.m.
Coughlin 303, Conference Room
Sponsor: History Department
About the event

Alison Efford of the History Department will be facilitating this discussion.


Speaker: Richard Blackett
Metcalfe Chair Lecture
Taking Leave: Fugitive Slaves and the Politics of Freedom, 1850-1860

November 12, 2012
7:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites (lower level)
Sponsors: History Department, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
About the speaker

Richard Blackett, Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and author of Building an Antislavery Wall. Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (Louisiana State University Press, 1983); Beating Against the Barriers. Biographical Essays in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American History (Louisiana State University Press, 1986); Thomas Morris Chester. Black Civil war Correspondent (Da Capo Press, 1989); Divided Hearts. Britain and the American Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2001). View the speaker's complete biography.


Speaker: D'Weston Haywood
Mitchem Fellowship Lecture
'Go To It My Southern Brothers': The Great Migration, the Black Press, and the En-Gendering of Freedom

November 26, 2012
4:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites (lower level)
Sponsors: History Department, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
About the speaker

D'Weston Haywood is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University and currently the Mitchem Fellow at Marquette University for the 2012-13 school year. He is currently finishing his dissertation, "Let Us Make Men: Black Newspapers and a Gendered Vision of Racial Advancement, 1915-1960."


Speaker: A. Van Jordan
Metcalfe Chair Lecture
Scenes from the Journey of Oscar Michaeux

January 24, 2013
4:30 p.m.
Beaumier Suites BC, Raynor Library
Sponsor: English Department, Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Office of the Provost
About the speaker

A. Van Jordan's collections of poetry include Rise (2001), M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (2005), and Quantum Lyrics (2007). Rise won a PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award and was selected for the Book of the Month Club of the Academy of American Poets. M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A received the Anisfield-Wolf Award. Jordan has been the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and a Pushcart Prize. View the speaker's complete biography.


"Can I Sing for You Brother?"
Performed by Stephen Scott Wormley

January 25 through 26, 2013
7:30 p.m.
Helfaer Theater
Sponsor: Performing Arts, Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Office of the Provost
About the performer

Stephen Scott Wormley received double degrees with honors from Marquette University in May 2010: a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts with a Dance Minor and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. As his senior capstone, Stephen performed Can I Sing for You Brother?, a one-man musical chronicling the story of an African American through Negro Spirituals. He is no stranger to performing at the most prestigious venues in the nation's capital, including the White House, the British and Finnish Embassies, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. View more about Stephen.


Exhibit: The School Choice Movement

January 28 through May 11, 2013
Second Floor Raynor Library
Sponsor: Raynor Memorial Libraries
About the event

Should parents be given public funds to send their children to private or parochial schools? Late twentieth century advocates of this controversial policy articulated their position with the language of freedom - the freedom of parents to choose what was best for their children. This exhibit describes the politically-charged modern school choice movement, paying particular attention to Milwaukee, a key battleground in the school choice struggle.


"What Does Freedom Mean to Me"
Video Competition Deadline

February 14, 2013
Sponsor: Raynor Memorial Libraries
About the event

Submit a 3 to 5 minute video expressing the theme what does freedom mean to me. Top videos will be awarded prizes and a public screening of the films will be held. View the complete competition rules.


History Department Brown Bag Lunch on Meanings of Freedom

February 25, 2013
Sponsor: Coughlin 303
About the event

Julius Ruff, "The French Idea of Freedom."


A Doll's House
by Henrik Ibsen

February 21 through March 3, 2013
Helfaer Theater (see website for times)
Sponsor: Performing Arts
About the show

In Henrik Ibsen's controversial classic, Nora Helmer, a doting, proper banker's wife centers her life around the needs of her husband and three children. Her illusions of a perfect life are shattered when she makes a sacrifice out of love that puts her husband's reputation in danger. In this 19th century play, Nora goes against societal norms in hopes to escape from her marital confines. Purchase tickets and view showtimes.


History Department Brown Bag Lunch on Meanings of Freedom

March 18, 2013
Sponsor: Coughlin 303
About the event

Chima Korieh, "Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) and African Conceptions of Personhood and Freedom."


Challenging Freedom:
The FBI, U.S. Intelligence Services, and Individual Freedoms in Modern America

March 21, 2013
4:30 p.m.
Beaumier Suites, Raynor Library
Sponsor: History Department, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Fund
About the speakers

Athan Theoharis, Marquette University, Emeritus; Ken O'Reilly, University of Alaska and MATC; Robert Donnelly, Gonzaga University, and Aaron Stockham, Waterford School (Utah) will debate and discuss the FBI, U.S. Intelligence Services, and individual freedoms in modern America.


History Department Brown Bag Lunch on Meanings of Freedom

April 16, 2013
Sponsor: Coughlin 303
About the event

Sarah Bond, "'An Irritant to Everyone'? Tanners in the Ancient Mediterranean."


Urinetown: The Musical

April 18 - 28, 2013
Helfaer Theater (see website for times)
Sponsor: Performing Arts
About the show

Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical comedy musical, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis. It satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. Purchase tickets and view showtimes.


Speaker: Rebecca J. Scott
Casper Lecture
"She had always enjoyed her freedom: Re-enslavement and the Law in the Era of the Haitian Revolution"

April 22, 2013
7:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites (lower level)
Sponsor: History Department's Casper Lecture Fund
About the speaker

Rebecca J. Scott, Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. Among her books are Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899; Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery; and Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation. View speakers full biography.


Speaker: Jeanne Theoharis

April 25, 2013
3:30 p.m.
Raynor Memorial Library Conference Center, Beaumier Suites (lower level)
Sponsored by Women's and Gender Studies, the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, and the History Department.
About the speaker

Jeanne Theoharis, professor of political science at Brooklyn College, will speak on her new book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. View speakers full biography.

About The Freedom Project

In one of the most famous passages ever spoken by a president, Abraham Lincoln ended the Gettysburg Address by urging his fellow Americans to honor the Union soldiers buried in the new National Cemetery by taking an "increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion," to "resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Although the Civil War brought freedom to millions of previously enslaved people, that is not the only kind of freedom to which Lincoln referred.

The Freedom Project recognizes that ideas about and definitions of freedom have been re-born many times in American history. Our purpose is to recognize that, although Americans have a unique relationship to the idea of "Freedom," it is not, in fact, an absolute value, neither as it is defined nor as it is practiced.

It is a social and political construction that has meant-and still means-different things to different people at different times. Lincoln, for instance, had not yet accepted that freedom for the slaves necessarily entailed equal political rights, and few of even the most radical abolitionists accepted the notion that American-style freedom included any political or most economic rights for women.

When, on the eve of America's entry into the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt proposed that all people everywhere should be able to enjoy the "Four Freedoms"-Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of religion, Freedom from want, and Freedom from fear-millions of Americans still were not guaranteed those supposedly fundamental conditions. A cursory look at some of the issues that still dominate American politics suggest the complex sets of values that shape our definitions of freedom.

The Freedom Project at Marquette embraces and seeks to explore the many meanings of freedom in the United States.

Questions or comments should be directed to the Project director, James Marten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, at james.marten@marquette.edu.

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