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Anxious Eras: Conflicts and Creativity in Uncertain Times

March 29, 2019 @ 4:30 pm - March 30, 2019 @ 1:00 pm

Feeling uneasy lately? It may comfort you to know that people in the past have also suffered through periods of deep personal and collective anxiety—and managed to survive them. In fact, they often responded creatively to challenging circumstances, developing new ideas to under- stand and confront the problems of their time.This seminar begins with a review of Classical Greek playwrights and their depictions of a society under stress, noting how social tensions worked as a dramatic device. We’ll then turn to medieval Europe to analyze the social effects of the devastating Black Death before discussing how people in France struggled to reconcile optimistic Enlightenment ideals with the political violence of the French Revolution. We’ll also consider the transitions in post-imperial China, when politicians and artists posited multiple futures for the Chinese people before the repressive communist regime came to power in the mid-twentieth-century Chinese Revolution. We’ll conclude with a comparative discussion of how resilient people have turned the anxieties of past times into creative new actions.


Gods Help Us All: Dreams of Political Salvation in Ancient Greek Drama
Al Duncan, Assistant Professor of Classics

The Black Death and the Medieval Blame Game
Brett E.Whalen, Associate Professor of History

Making Lemonade out of Lemons in the French Revolution, 1789–1791
Jay M. Smith, Professor of History

Creativity in Times of Crisis: Changing Chinese Culture in the May Fourth Period, 1915–21
Michelle King, Associate Professor of History

Anxiety, Community, and the Public Stakes of Personal Stress
A panel discussion with our speakers


4:30pm-8:30pm Friday, March 29 and 9:00am-1:00pm Saturday, March 30. The tuition is $125 ($115 until January 18). Tuition for teachers is $62.50 ($57.50 until January 18). Teachers can also receive a $75 stipend after attending (click here for more information) and 10 contact hours for 1 unit of renewal credit. The optional dinner on Friday night is $20.

Discounts are available for UNC students, faculty, & staff. See our UNC Student, Staff, & Faculty Discounted Registration Policy here.

Co-Sponsored by the General Alumni Association.

For information about GAA discounts and other scholarships available to Humanities Program participants, click here.

Register here or call us at 919.962.1544. 

Registrants will receive a packet containing background readings, a map to the seminar location, and more about 3-4 weeks before the program date. 
After the program: Attendees can listen to recordings from the event here


March 29, 2019 @ 4:30 pm
March 30, 2019 @ 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Chapel Hill Campus
Please Contact Carolina Public Humanities for exact location