Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture Series: Edward Ayers: “The Humanities in Our Times”


Watch video of Edward L. Ayers, President and Professor of History at the University of Richmond, present this year’s Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture on Thursday, October 18 in Flynn Auditorium. His talk is entitled “The Humanities in Our Times.” Prior to his appointment at the University of Richmond, Ayers served as Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he began teaching in 1980.

President Ayers is a distinguished scholar of the American South and has authored or edited ten books, including In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 (2003), which was awarded the 2004 Albert J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association and the 2004 Bancroft Prize for Distinguished Book in American History from Columbia University. His volume The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction (1992) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and was chosen as the best book on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South. Ayers was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003.

An early advocate for work in digital history, Ayers’s scholarship has also included pioneering digital history projects: “Valley of the Shadow” (stories of people living in two American communities from the time of John Brown’s raid through reconstruction); “Virginia: Secession and the Crisis of Union” (transcripts of the Virginia secession debates and related materials); and “Voting America” (animated maps presenting changes in US presidential voting patterns). Ayers’s collaborative digital projects underscore his commitment to making academic research accessible to the general public.

President Ayers is deeply involved in promoting higher education and scholarly research. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the American Council for Education. He was previously a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Humanities Council and was appointed by the US President to serve on the National Council for the Humanities from 2000-2004.

The Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture Series was established in 1994 through the endowment of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Nash Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. George Renfro, all of Asheville, North Carolina. The lecture honors Harry C. Howard Jr. (B.A., 1951) and allows the Warren Center to bring an outstanding scholar to Vanderbilt annually to deliver a lecture on a significant topic in the humanities.