Hope and Fear Conference

Hope and Fear: Interdisciplinary Conference in the Humanities

Our social, political, and religious climate has been dominated recently by a mood of collective fear, regarding everything from economic anxiety, the outbreak of new and frightening diseases, mass shootings, social tension and violence between law enforcement and communities of color, environmental and technological dangers, and the threat of terrorism both foreign and domestic. Where is there room for hope in such times of uncertainty and fear? Indeed, what would hope look like? What might the interplay be between hope and fear as we reflect on the past, present, and future not only of this country, but of humanity as a whole? How might respect and compassion overcome division and mistrust in our discourse and interactions? What do the various disciplines of the humanities have to offer on the subjects of hope and fear, both in our own time as well as for all time?

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  • Panel discussions held throughout each day
  • March 31 lunch-time speaker Denise Juneau, 12:30 p.m., registration required
  • March 31 keynote speaker Nell Irvin Painter 7 p.m., St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
  • April 1 Lunchtime speaker Loren Graham, 12:30 p.m., registration required

Download the full schedule (PDF)

Where to Stay

We’ve reserved a block of rooms at the Helena Great Northern Hotel for the nights of March 30, 31, and April 1, at a special rate of $136 plus taxes for a double queen room. Rates include deluxe breakfast bar and overnight parking. Please call (406) 457-5500 or (800) 829-4047 for reservations by February 28, the release date. Reduced group rates will not be available after the release date. Please refer to Hope and Fear Interdisciplinary Conference when making room reservations for discounted group rates. Credit card required upon check-in.

Keynote Speaker: Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin PainterNell Irvin Painter is a distinguished and award winning scholar and writer. A graduate of Harvard University, Painter went on to become the Edwards Professor Emeritus of American History at Princeton University. She is the author of seven books and countless articles relating to the history of the American South. Painter’s latest book, The History of White People, guides us through more than 2000 years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but the frequent praise of "whiteness."

Her critically acclaimed book, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, won the nonfiction prize of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In Sojourner Truth, Painter focuses on the life of the black abolition-ist and women’s rights advocate. A related article, “Representing Truth: Sojourner Truth’s Knowing and Becoming Known,” appeared in The Journal of American History. Painter is also the author of Southern History Across the Color Line, which moves across the divides that have compartmentalized southern history, women’s history, and African American history by focusing on relationships among men and women of different races.

In a powerful and deeply insightful program, Painter explores issues of racial and gender identity and how they have figured into the history of America and the West. Drawing from both her extensive scholarly studies and her more recent study of visual art, Painter examines different time periods, locations, and individuals throughout Western civilization, bringing America’s rich cultural history to life on stage. Her informative and thought provoking program urges audiences to look at history beyond the lines of difference and stereotype--to literally look at her images as well—sparking a discourse that continues well after she has left the stage. Learn more about Nell Irvin Painter

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