Mark Clague, Associate Professor of Musicology and American Culture, University of Michigan
Ekene Ijeoma, Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Sciences and Director of Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab
Marc Leepson, Journalist, historian, and author
Moderated by Kevin Lindsey, Minnesota Humanities Center
This panel discusses contemporary cultural responses to the American flag, as well as its musical counterpart the National Anthem, including artistic and historical perspectives. Mark Clague, Associate Professor of Musicology and American Culture at the University of Michigan, researches music-making in the U.S. with a special focus on “The Star Spangled Banner.” Ekene Ijeoma, artist, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and Director of Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab, brings his musical and installation projects including Deconstructed Anthems into the discussion. Marc Leepson is a historian, journalist, and the author of Flag: An American Biography. In this panel discussion, they consider the emblems of U.S. patriotism and the role they play in defining national identity and staking out political ideologies. Long a symbol of devotion and of hatred, the United States flag—and the anthem that pays tribute to it—serves as a touchstone to reflect on American identity and the current moment.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Mark Clague, Ph.D., serves as Associate Professor of Musicology and American Culture at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he is also Associate Dean of Collaborations and Partnerships. His research on the U.S. national anthem has led to multiple publications, including the article “‘This Is America’: Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship”(2014), the recording Poets and Patriots: A Tuneful History of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (2014), the Star Spangled Songbook (2015), which contains more than 70 arrangements, translations, and alternate texts, and a forthcoming book O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural Biography of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (WW Norton, June 2022). This work has sparked collaborations with the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Los Angeles Grammy Museum, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, and in recital with baritone Thomas Hampson at the Library of Congress. His ongoing anthem commentary is available at starspangledmusic.org.
Ekene Ijeoma is an artist whose work engages how we relate to each other through ideologies and systems. In his project-oriented practice, each work focuses on overlooked or shared aspects of these relationships through the lenses of personal observation and analytical exploration. He applies poetic approaches to computational techniques to deconstruct our cultural artifacts or connect us in minimalistic yet expansive ways. These processes have resulted in generative sound and video, data-driven sculpture and performance, interactive installations, and participatory artworks that embrace socio-political themes.
Journalist and historian Marc Leepson is the author of nine books, including What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life; Flag: An American Biography; Lafayette: Idealist General; and Saving Monticello. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., he has written articles and reviews for many newspapers and magazines, as well as entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. He is the long-time Senior Writer, Arts Editor, and columnist for The VVA Veteran, the magazine published by Vietnam Veterans of America. After graduating from George Washington University in 1967 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served on active duty from 1967-1969, including a year in the Vietnam War, received his honorable discharge, and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in history from GWU in 1971. From 2008-2015 he taught U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Virginia.
ABOUT THE 2021–2022 SPOTLIGHT SERIES
The University of Minnesota Spotlight Series is a collaborative partnership of the University Honors Program, Institute for Advanced Study, and Northrop, to present lectures, panel discussions, exhibits, and other events throughout the academic year around timely topics of interest. The six-part 2021-22 series, hosted in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, focuses on reconsidering patriotism, public service, and civic engagement. The moderator for all six events will be Kevin Lindsey, CEO of Minnesota Humanities Center. All events are Thursdays 3:30-5:00 pm and may be attended in Northrop’s Best Buy Theater or online via Zoom. Q&A sessions will follow each event.