Events Calendar

Visiting Scholar Series: Emily Bingham

Free with registration

Join us as Emily Bingham explores topics from her recent book, My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song, research for which was conducted at Pitt with support from the Center for American Music.

Friday, September 30, 1–3 p.m.
340 A&SC Instruction Room, Hillman Library

Abstract: How did a minstrel song about the slave trade become a beloved melody, a celebratory anthem, and an integral part of American folklore and culture? 

Pittsburgh-native Stephen Foster’s 1853 “My Old Kentucky Home,” presented slavery as carefree while also telling a wrenching story of a man sold to die in the sugarcane fields of the Deep South. The sentimental song—sung by white men in blackface entertaining white audiences—was a sensation in 1853 and has been with us ever since. Its lyrics and meaning have been protested, altered, mythologized in thousands of performances—from Bing Crosby to Bugs Bunny to John Prine and Prissy in Gone with the Wind—and enshrined as the state song of Kentucky.

In casting an unflinching eye on our cultural inheritance, which echoes with a nation’s enduring ability to forget the realities of slavery, Bingham offers a deeply researched and incisive biography of one of America’s most iconic melodies.

 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Emily Bingham holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard University and earned her M. A. and Ph.D. in history at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has taught at the University of Louisville and Centre College, and is currently Visiting Honors Faculty Fellow at Bellarmine University. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in Vogue, Salon, Ohio Valley History, The Journal of Southern History, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and New England Review. She is the author of My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song (2022), Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham (2015), Mordecai: An Early American Family (2003), and, as editor with Thomas A. Underwood, The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays After I’ll Take My Stand (2001).

 

Emily BIngham's visit is co-hosted by the Center for American Music at the University Library System. 

 

Friday, September 30 at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Hillman Library, 340 A&SC Instruction Room
3960 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Visiting Scholar Series: Emily Bingham

Free with registration

Join us as Emily Bingham explores topics from her recent book, My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song, research for which was conducted at Pitt with support from the Center for American Music.

Friday, September 30, 1–3 p.m.
340 A&SC Instruction Room, Hillman Library

Abstract: How did a minstrel song about the slave trade become a beloved melody, a celebratory anthem, and an integral part of American folklore and culture? 

Pittsburgh-native Stephen Foster’s 1853 “My Old Kentucky Home,” presented slavery as carefree while also telling a wrenching story of a man sold to die in the sugarcane fields of the Deep South. The sentimental song—sung by white men in blackface entertaining white audiences—was a sensation in 1853 and has been with us ever since. Its lyrics and meaning have been protested, altered, mythologized in thousands of performances—from Bing Crosby to Bugs Bunny to John Prine and Prissy in Gone with the Wind—and enshrined as the state song of Kentucky.

In casting an unflinching eye on our cultural inheritance, which echoes with a nation’s enduring ability to forget the realities of slavery, Bingham offers a deeply researched and incisive biography of one of America’s most iconic melodies.

 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Emily Bingham holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard University and earned her M. A. and Ph.D. in history at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has taught at the University of Louisville and Centre College, and is currently Visiting Honors Faculty Fellow at Bellarmine University. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in Vogue, Salon, Ohio Valley History, The Journal of Southern History, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and New England Review. She is the author of My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song (2022), Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham (2015), Mordecai: An Early American Family (2003), and, as editor with Thomas A. Underwood, The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays After I’ll Take My Stand (2001).

 

Emily BIngham's visit is co-hosted by the Center for American Music at the University Library System. 

 

Friday, September 30 at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Hillman Library, 340 A&SC Instruction Room
3960 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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