Sawyer Seminar


“Reimagining the American Landscape: race and the future of public history”

University of Virginia, Academic Year 2022-23 



Laurent Dubois, Jalane Schmidt, and Louis Nelson are facilitating an Andrew Mellon Foundation funded seminar hosted by the University of Virginia through the 2022-23 academic year entitled  “Reimagining the American Landscape.” This seminar includes UVA faculty, graduate students, those from other universities, practitioners of public history, curators, and Charlottesville community members. 

This seminar assumes that the future of American Democracy hinges on historical truth-telling, that realizing change in the American historical imagination requires partnerships beyond the academy, and that the most impactful public history is grounded in local places. Grounded in these convictions, this seminar convenes historians and activists, creatives, communicators, curators, entrepreneurs, and preservationists to develop new initiatives in the work of reshaping the American historical imagination.

The seminar will consist of three types of activities. In addition to a closed monthly seminar on Friday afternoons, the seminar will also include three public facing events. The first two are day-long symposia on the Memorial Practices in the Caribbean on Nov 14th and Remembering the Slave Trade on Jan 20th. The academic year will conclude with a final conference from May 12-13 that will convene all the presenters and participants for focused discussions and workshops.

UVA's Mellon Sawyer Seminar, "Reimagining the American Landscape: Race and the Future of Public History" and the Memory Project invite you to a symposium on "Marking the Slave Trade in Public" to be held from 12:00-2:30pm on Friday, January 20th in Bond House rm 116-118. Professors Richard Benjamin, Louis Nelson, and Jalane Schmidt will give remarks on public memorializing of enslavement in the U.S. South and in the U.K. For those who attend in person, lunch will be provided. If you would like to attend virtually.  For more information, see the attached poster. Questions can be directed to Gillet Rosenblith (