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Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:03 pm

Richard Dreyfuss performance highlights history symposium

Top scholars explore Lincoln in Illinois

Actor Richard Dreyfuss

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer will present a rare performance of Lincoln Seen and Heard, on Friday, March 27, on the campus of Illinois College in Jacksonville.

The dramatic reading has been presented in recent months to audiences at the White House, Ford’s Theatre, The Library of Congress and at the George H.W. Bush and Clinton presidential libraries. The event in Jacksonville will come as part of the annual Illinois State Historical Society’s 2009 Illinois History Symposium, which begins Thursday, March 26, and concludes Saturday, March 28.

Tickets for Lincoln Seen and Heard are priced at $40, $30 and $20, and are available at Tanner Hall on the Illinois College campus and at the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, 235 W. State St. The ticket outlet at Tanner Hall will be open weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. A limited number of seats are still available for the ISHS symposium banquet ($60), which includes a general admission ticket to the performance. For ticket information call 217-741-7696.

The presentation will be preceded by a musical program featuring selections by the Illinois College and MacMurray College concert choirs, the Illinois College Wind Ensemble and soloists Joel Tinsley and Addie Gramelspacher.

Dreyfuss has relied on intelligence, energy and incredible talent to gain and keep his place among the leading actors of the American cinema. Three of his films are included in the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest films. At age 29, Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in The Goodbye Girl. Twenty-nine years later, his role as the teacher in Mr. Holland’s Opus received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor.

Throughout his life, Dreyfuss has been known not only for his acting but also for his commitment to political and social activism. He has campaigned for candidates and causes and given testimony advocating for national and community service before congressional and other governmental committees. Together with Columbia University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he created a conference at the Strasburg Institute in Austria for Israeli and Arab journalists, including representatives from Arab, American and European Television news networks such as Al Jazeera, CNN, and the BBC. He is co-founder of L.A. Works, a nonprofit, public action and volunteer center in Los Angeles.

Dreyfuss is most passionate about a need for civic engagement in the United States and the return of a civics curriculum to every American classroom. To that end, in 2005, he became Senior Associate Member of St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University in England. While there, he has been researching and helping to design a new civics curriculum for American public schools, as well as working work on a project based on the notion of Democracy as a Dickensian tale.

Author Harold Holzer

Holzer, whom historians consider to be one of the nation’s preeminent Lincoln scholars, received an honorary degree from Illinois College when he gave the commencement address to the Class of 2007. The liberal arts college will confer the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree on Dreyfuss during ceremonies following the dramatic reading.

Holzer is senior vice president for external affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and serves as co-chairman of the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He is also the author, co-author, or editor of 33 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era. Among his award-winning works are The Lincoln Image, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Lincoln as I Knew Him, Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art, The Lincoln Family Album, and with Governor Mario Cuomo, Lincoln on Democracy, which has been published in four languages. His latest book is the acclaimed Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861, which has won the 2009 Barondess Award and the Award of Achievement of the Lincoln Group of New York.

In addition to his writing, Holzer lectures throughout the country. He also appears frequently on C-SPAN, CNN, PBS, and the History Channel. He next appears in the bicentennial PBS documentary “Looking for Lincoln,” in C-SPAN’S “The White House,” and in History Channel’s “Stealing Lincoln’s Body.” His two newly edited books for the bicentennial year are The Lincoln Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Legacy; and In Lincoln’s Hand: His Original Manuscripts with Commentary by Distinguished Americans.

Other symposium speakers include:

Dr. Wayne C. Temple

Thursday, March 26, noon, Cummings Dining Hall, Illinois College

Dr. Wayne C. Temple, “dean of the Lincoln scholars” and author of nine books and dozens of articles about Lincoln, will speak on the topic, “The Tomb that Never Was: The Story of the Original Lincoln Tomb in Downtown Springfield.” Deputy Director of the Illinois State Archives, Dr. Temple was the editor of Lincoln Herald for 15 years. His books include Abraham Lincoln: from Skeptic to Prophet; By Square and Compass: Saga of the Lincoln Home; The Taste is in My Mouth a Little… Lincoln’s Victuals and Potables; and most recently Lincoln’s Travels on the River Queen During the Last Days of his Life.

Friday, March 27, noon, Cummings Dining Hall, Illinois College

Dr. Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Johns Hopkins University Press), will speak on the topic, “Lincoln’s Public and Private Lives: New Information, Fresh Perspectives.” Dr. Burlingame is the Sadowski Professor of History Emeritus at Connecticut College and author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln and editor of 10 volumes of primary sources about Lincoln. He received the prestigious Lincoln Prize, honorable mention, for his five edited collections of letters, memoranda, editorial essays, lectures and interviews by Lincoln’s private secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John Hall.

Saturday, March 28, 7:30 a.m., Hamilton’s Banquet Hall, 110 N. East Street, Jacksonville

Dr. Mark E. Steiner, professor of law at South Texas School of Law, will speak on “Has the Lincoln Lawyer Theme Been Exhausted?” Dr. Steiner is the author of An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, named “Best of the Best” for 2007 by the Association of American University Presses and awarded a “Superior Achievement” by the Illinois State Historical Society. A former associate editor of the Lincoln Legal Papers, Dr. Steiner teaches American Legal History and Consumer Transactions at South Texas College of Law. Steiner’s efforts in teaching citizenship classes to immigrants seeking naturalization were recently recognized by the USA Freedom Corps.

Dr. Mark E. Steiner

Complete details on the Illinois State Historical Society Symposium, “Abraham Lincoln in Ante-bellum Illinois: 1830-1861,” can be found at www.historyillinois.org. The event will feature more than 70 scholars from across the state and nation who will share their research and knowledge on the Underground Railroad, abolitionism, Lincoln’s law practice and his political career in Illinois.

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