On the occasion of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, we invite fresh interpretations of the man, the politician in his times (from the antebellum period though the Civil War) as well as his legacy beyond the Civil War through today, from a European perspective. This shall be the first conference of this kind to be held in France.
Beyond the historical background of 1809-1865 which, like Lincoln himself, “was big enough to be inconsistent” (W. E. B. Du Bois) and brought about fundamental changes in the United States as a nation, we invited analysis of the nature of the man himself as an American politician and leader, while searching to examine the complements and contrasts which relate Europe to the United States—and the USA to Europe—as revealed by European readings of Abraham Lincoln and his era.
How have the individual prisms of Europeans’ own History, both official and popular, made use of Lincoln and American events and achievements when the very meaning of democracy and the nation was at stake, not just for the United States but for « the whole family of man » (Lincoln, July 1861).? To what extent has informed awareness by both Europeans and Americans been a litmus test of Euro-American understanding? This international conference which has been endorsed by the “Lincoln Bicentennial Commission” will be bringing together scholars dealing with the topic from the viewpoint of history as well as political science and visual arts. Each session has been organized so as to provide a dialogue between a European and an American, thereby illustrating the main questions posed by the two plenary speakers, two prominent Lincoln scholars, one English, the other American - ie nationalism and universalim as embodied by Lincoln as well as the multiple legacy his political actions and thoughts have embrassed. This questioning will find a more applied version in the session particularly devoted to the teaching of Lincoln on either sides of the Atlantic..
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