Feb. 9, 2004

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Contact: Barbara Watkins, KU Continuing Education, (785) 864-7881.

Third statewide online discussion on Kansas Territory focuses on John Brown

LAWRENCE -- As part of the 2004 celebration of the Kansas Territory's 150th anniversary, University of Kansas Continuing Education will offer the third session of its statewide online book discussion beginning Feb. 11. A one-hour credit course accompanies the discussions.

The initial sessions of the four-part book series were held at the Lawrence Public Library in fall 2003 and were audiotaped for the online discussions, which began Jan. 14. Kansans may join the online discussions by going to www.kuce.org/kt/.

The third book for discussion, Merrill Peterson's "John Brown: The Legend Revisited," is an assessment of the controversial man who dedicated his life to the destruction of slavery (often with polarizing methods) and singlehandedly influenced the course of American history with the raid on Harpers Ferry, W.Va., a dramatic action that culminated in his death.

From 1855 to 1859, Brown frequently was seen walking the streets of Lawrence, fiercely engaged in the struggle over whether Kansas would be a slave or free state. It is not so much Brown's life as what he stood for, acted upon and died for that has captured the imagination of many people and ultimately attracted Peterson to write a history of Brown's legend. The book's premise is that Brown has represented different ideas to Americans at various times during the almost 150 years since his death.

This sesquicentennial book discussion series is supported by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its "Talk about Literature in Kansas" (TALK) program. The Kansas Territorial Experience Web site includes numerous links to Territorial Kansas Online, www.territorialkansasonline.org, a site developed by the Kansas State Historical Society and KU.

Information about the public online book discussion group and accompanying credit course is available on the KU Continuing Education Web site, www.kuce.org/kt/.

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