KU News Release

April 1, 2011
Contact: Jonathan Earle, Department of History, 785-864-9446

Leading scholars to reevaluate ‘Border Wars’

More Information

LAWRENCE — Thirteen of the nation’s leading scholars of the “Border Wars” between Kansas and Missouri will mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by presenting new work in this constantly changing — and contentious — field.

The workshop, to take place April 7-8 at the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, is in preparation for a full-scale public conference in November at the Kansas City Public Library.

Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history at KU, and Diane Mutti-Burke, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, jointly organized the meeting and invited the guests.

“This gathering is unique because it brings together in equal number experts on Kansas and Missouri — scholars that ordinarily go to different conferences and publish in different journals. Professor Mutti-Burke and I sometimes feel like we’re officiating at a wedding,” said Earle, who has been on the KU faculty since 1997.

Mutti-Burke concurred.

“We feel this conference has both a highly original focus and will provide a unique opportunity to facilitate conversations between scholars working on the history of both states — conversations that, for too long, have failed to occur.”

Scholars have long pointed to the centrality of the Kansas-Missouri border region during the antebellum “Bleeding Kansas” period, the Civil War itself and the uneasy peace and reconstruction that followed. According to Earle and Mutti-Burke, an exploration of the most uncivil of wars could provide insight into the ways in which societies can be fragmented by ideology and, ultimately, rebuilt along different lines.

Participants include Michael Fellman, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, who will give a keynote address at the November conference in Kansas City; Nicole Etcheson, the Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History at Ball State University; Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel, the Mary Frances Barnard Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century American History, University of Tulsa; Pearl Ponce, assistant professor of history at Ithaca College; Randy Mullis, associate professor of military history, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; Christopher Phillips, associate professor of history at the University of Cincinnati; Kristen Epps, visiting assistant professor of history at Colorado State University-Pueblo; Joseph M. Beilein Jr., a doctoral student at the University of Missouri; Aaron Astor, assistant professor of history at Maryville College in Tennessee; Independent scholar John McKerley; and LeeAnn Whites, professor of history at the University of Missouri.

Papers resulting from the workshop will be presented to the public at the November conference in Kansas City.

Funding for the conferences comes from KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities; the Kansas City Public Library; the departments of history at KU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City; Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area; and the Barton P. & Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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