BHSU Geek Speak to analyze the Confederate flag and its symbolism over the years

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, September 3, 2015/Categories: 2015









           Black Hills State University assistant professor of rhetoric and philosophy Dr. Adam Gaffey will talk about the Confederate flag and its meaning in the next Geek Speak lecture series. The lecture "Always Contested: The Confederate Flag in the Public Imagination" will be held Thursday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. in room 110 of Jonas Hall on the BHSU campus and is free and open to the public.




Dr. Adam Gaffey, assistant professor of rhetoric and philosophy at Black Hills State University, will take a look at the Confederate flag and explain its broad symbolism in the next Geek Speak lecture.

"Always Contested: The Confederate Flag in the Public Imagination" will be held Thursday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. in room 110 of Jonas Hall on the BHSU campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

There are many opinions to why Confederate flag is still popular from representing regional pride to revolution.

The original intention of the Confederate flag was to represent a fight for rights, which people who lived in the southern, confederate states believed in. Today, the flag has transformed into a part of pop culture its meaning depends on the region, traditions and the people who use it, Gaffey said.

"Between the end of the Civil War and the early 20th century it was not common to see the Confederate battle flag used for much of anything except for remembering the Confederate dead in the Civil War," said Gaffey.

In the &rsquo50s, however, the flag started being used in political campaigns.

According to Gaffey, in 1948, a senator from South Carolina, named Strom Thurmond ran for president as a third party candidate. The party was largely a southern - based coalition, but one of their icons was the Confederate flag. Thurmond used the flag to symbolize state rights and to reinforce the idea that the federal government won&rsquot dictate how a state government is run.

As the years passed, the flag has been used in the entertainment industry. It&rsquos been seen on top of the General Lee in the popular TV series "Dukes of Hazzard" and musicians have used the flag as a backdrop during concerts.

"We see music performers like Kid Rock or Lynyrd Skynyrd who try to play around with the flag, subvert its meaning and insert it in something innocuous. In doing that they&rsquore also referring to a historical artifact that different people had a different understanding of," said Gaffey. "It draws criticism, but their response is that they didn&rsquot intend to use it as a racist symbol."

However, like the Confederate flag, many objects in American and world history have altered meanings over the years.

"It has to do with the way we are listening and the way we are speaking about the Confederate flag," he said. "We help and contribute to bring that meaning into the world."

The Geek Speak lecture series is sponsored by the University Honors Program and is held every Thursday at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 110 on the BHSU campus.

Upcoming topics include:

Sept. 17 &ndash "The Man on the Motorcycle: The Revolutionary Thought of Che Guevara" hosted by Dr. Tim Martinez

Sept. 24 &ndash "I&rsquoll Take You to the Dark Side: Exploring our Fascination with Death and Disasters" hosted by Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto

Oct. 1 &ndash "Ethnobotany and Indigenous Lakota Plants" hosted by Jace DeCory, Dr. John Dixson, Justin Ramsey

Oct. 8 &ndash "Now That It&rsquos Too Late: Climate Change and Human Existence" hosted by Matt Bauman.

Oct. 15 &ndash "Robin Hood Redux: How through Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), CEOs Rob from the Poor and Pay the Rich" hosted by Dr. Byron Hollowell

Oct. 22 &ndash "Outgrowing Optimism" hosted by Dr. Tim Steckline

Oct. 29 &ndash "He Who Fears the Wolf Should Never Enter the Forest:  Werewolves Among Us" hosted by Dr. Courtney Huse Wika

Nov. 5 &ndash "Studying Society through the Apocalyptic Novel: The Road, The Year of the Flood, The Stand, and On the Beach" hosted by Dr. Laura Colmenero Chilberg

Nov. 12 &ndash "Speaking on Behalf of the Natural World&rsquos Rights" hosted by Dr. Nikki Dragone

Nov. 19 &ndash "Perspectives on Hunger" hosted by Dr. Trenton Ellis and Dr. John Alsup

To confirm topics, dates, and room numbers, check the BHSU Campus Calendar.

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or

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