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Symposium on Lincoln: The Movie and the Man

Sorry you missed 'Lincoln' last year? Then MSU has a treat for you

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Abraham Lincoln will be at Mississippi State later this month for a number of university-organized public programs.

Of course, the actual 16th U.S. chief executive who was assassinated in 1865 will be unable to make it, but his transcendent spirit should be well represented at a two-day special event.

A Symposium on Lincoln: The Movie and Man is being co-sponsored by the Office of President Mark E. Keenum and MSU Libraries, along with the campus-based U.S. Grant Presidential Library, Shackouls Honors College, and African American Studies.

Free and open to all, the Sept. 23 and 24 programs--including a "presidential press conference"--are part of the institution's observance of the 150th American Civil War anniversary.

The symposium gets under way at 7 p.m. on the 23rd with a screening of "Lincoln," the epic 2012 historical drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role that won him Academy Award best-actor honors. To be shown in 124 McCool Hall, the Stephen Spielberg-produced and -directed movie will run approximately 150 minutes.

"We have been privileged to be host to many significant events over the years, but this symposium truly is one we feel will be remembered and appreciated for a long time to come," said Frances Coleman, MSU dean of libraries. "Everyone involved has planned and worked very hard to make the activities the best they can be, and we encourage all who can to take part in any or all of the activities."

Activities on the 24th will begin with George Buss, a nationally recognized character actor who has won widespread acclaim for his stage depictions of Lincoln. A sixth-generation Illinois native, he is, like the man he portrays, bearded, six-feet-four-inches tall and weighing between 160-180 pounds. For more, visit

At Mitchell Memorial Library's third-floor John Grisham Room, Buss will be part of a 9 a.m. panel discussion focusing on Lincoln's lasting impact on the country he led during its most trying time. Other panelists--all speakers at separate programs later in the day--include historians John F. Marszalek and Stephen Middleton of MSU, and John David Smith of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Civil War historian and author Frank K. Williams will be panel moderator. A former Rhode Island Supreme Court chief justice, he leads the U.S. Grant Association that brought the Grant Library to MSU. He also is founding chair of the Lincoln Forum, a national organization devoted to the study of its namesake and the Civil War era.

The symposium concludes at 7:30 p.m. in McCool Hall's Rogers Auditorium (Room 100), with an in-depth discussion by Williams of the Spielberg movie.

"The motion picture 'Lincoln' provides a vivid insight into the nation's greatest president" said Marszalek, a retired MSU Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus currently serving as executive director and managing editor of the U.S. Grant Association.

"When students and local residents saw it, the immediate question that came to their minds was: 'How accurate is it?'" the nationally recognized Civil War author and researcher added. "Judge Williams and the other speakers at the symposium will be providing answers to this question, and a lot more."

He joined Dean Coleman in expressing appreciation for the participation of Buss, Middleton, Smith, and Williams, whom he praised as "all outstanding speakers with vast knowledge of President Lincoln and his era."

Middleton, Marszalek's campus colleague, is a Miami (Ohio) University doctoral graduate who is a professor in Mississippi State's history department and leader of the university's African American Studies program. For more, visit

John David Smith is UNC-Charlotte's Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History. A University of Kentucky doctoral graduate, he is a prolific author who teaches courses on the American South, Civil War and African American slavery and emancipation. For more, visit

Organization of the varied symposium programs also has been coordinated by Stephen Cunetto, MSU Libraries' system administrator.

"Dean Coleman, Dr. Marszalek and a large number of the MSU Libraries staff have been working for some time to help make this major program a reality for our students, employees, Starkville and Golden Triangle residents, and all others interested in Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War," Cunetto said.

"We all are confident those that attend any or all of the various activities will not be disappointed," he added.

Cunetto said a complete symposium schedule is available at