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Panel "Scholarly Versus Popular"

Filmmaking, writing, and other adventures of academics looking for a larger audience
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
3:00–5:00 pm 

Belo Center for New Media (BMC), 5.208

Can scholars reach a wider audience without sacrificing their academic reputations? What happens when they try?

A decade ago, Dan Carter, a Bancroft Award winning historian, and Paul Stekler, an Emmy Award winning UT filmmaker, collaborated on a documentary biography of George Wallace, George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire (which the Austin Film Society will screen at the State Theater on the night of October 10th). The film won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, an Emmy, and was broadcast nationally on PBS. Using that collaboration as a starting point, this panel, including Carter, Stekler, and a trio of UT scholars, will talk about treading the line between scholarly research and mass appeal, and the decision to go broad or institutional.

Panelists include:

  • Jacqueline Jones—UT’s Walter Prescott Webb chair in history, a MacArthur Fellow, and a Bancroft winner for Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present, Jones has written widely on labor, the underclass, and the South.
  • Elizabeth Engelhardt—The new chair of the American Studies Department, Engelhardt has written popular books about food and gender in the US South and is a founder of a national organization whose mission is to bridge the divide between popular and academic studies of Texas foodways.
  • Eric McDaniel—A UT political scientist who studies American politics, McDaniel focuses on the role of religion in political participation in his most recent book, Politics in the Pews: The Political Mobilization of Black Churches.
  • Dan T. CarterThe former President of the Southern Historical Association, Carter is the author and editor of forty articles and seven books (four authored/three edited) including The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics (winner of the Robert Kennedy Book Prize) and the Bancroft Prize winning Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South. Carter has also consulted on numerous documentaries, including films on George Wallace, the Scottsboro Boys, Jimmy Carter, Ulysses Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Virginia Durr and Leo Frank, and for the series The American South Comes of Age and the NBC feature Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys. He taught history at Emory, South Carolina, and Maryland.
  • Paul Stekler—The chair of UT’s RTF Department, Stekler has made documentaries about American politics and history that have won multiple Emmys, duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards, and Peabody Awards, and have all been broadcast nationally on PBS. He’s completing a film about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Getting Back to Abnormal.