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Bud Shaw Lecture

AIDS Quilt in memory of Bud Shaw

Quiltblock in memory of Bud Shaw, American Studies graduate at Dickinson College

2024 Bud Shaw Lecture will be presented on Monday, February 19 at 5pm in Althouse 105. 

This year's speaker will be Marita Sturken, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.  Dr. Sturken will present, "“Memory Nation: The Role of Memory in Shaping the Nation from 9/11 to January 6.” 

Cultural memory was a primary force in the shaping of the post-9/11 era, with a proliferation of 9/11 memorialization and the rebuilding of Ground Zero in New York as a site of memory.  Yet, as the post-9/11 era appears to have come to an end, with the global pandemic and the rise of Trumpism, memory politics has turned away from this national memorialization to memory battles over monuments, and memory activism over racial justice. Memory has been a key force in this national nostalgia for the post-9/11 sense of unity, and in the disillusions of the post-9/11 era that have led to political polarization and the insurrection of January 6.  This talk examines this dynamic of 9/11 memory, memory activism, and national polarization by looking at 9/11 memory, the rebuilding of Ground Zero, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, in order to explore how looking at cultural memory can help us understand how we came to be at the precipice where we stand today in the United States.   

Donald B. “Bud” Shaw was a 1980 alumnus of Dickinson and an American Studies major. An active, engaged student, Bud received the prestigious Hufstader Prize – given to two seniors judged to have contributed the most to the College over their four years here. Bud was passionate about American literature and culture; and, naturally, he found an intellectual home in the American Studies department, where he wrote a senior thesis on P. T. Barnum and American hucksterism. He also found in the department’s classes and faculty resources that would enable him to claim his own voice and identity as a gay man during a time when most GLBTQ people felt they had little choice but to remain closeted.

After Bud graduated, he gravitated to environments where he would be accepted living as an openly gay man– places like New York, Washington, D.C., and Palm Springs. He worked in business until his diagnosis as HIV-positive, at which point he turned to AIDS activism, serving as vice-president of the Desert AIDS project in California. As his illness progressed, he moved back East to be closer to his friends and family, and renewed his ties with Dickinson. He returned to campus in 1991 to speak about the AIDS crisis, and the dangerous combinations of substance abuse and unsafe sex. He wanted his story to help college students at Dickinson and elsewhere. Bud was scheduled to speak at a Common Hour the next year, but died two weeks before, in March of 1992.

Bud Shaw’s Dickinson friends honored him by contributing a panel to the AIDS quilt in his memory. And Bud honored us by leaving a generous bequest to the American Studies department in his will. We have used Bud’s gift to fund the annual Shaw Lecture, which has brought to campus distinguished scholars, artists and activists to present compelling and challenging ideas to the campus community, and to consult with our senior majors on their thesis projects. Bud’s legacy has enabled us to carry on the tradition of intellectual enrichment and discovery from which he benefitted as a Dickinson student and American Studies major.

Previous Shaw Lecture speakers:

  • Lisa Maria Cacho, University of Virginia
  • Tiya Miles, Harvard University 
  • Grace Kyungwon Hong, UCLA
  • Philip Deloria, Harvard University
  • Maria Josefina Saldaña, New York University
  • Dustin Tahmahkera, University of Texas at Austin
  • David Roediger, University of Kansas
  • Eric Avila, UCLA
  • Michelle Stephens, Rutgers University
  • Nan Enstad, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Penny von Eschen, University of Michigan
  • Matthew Frye Jacobsen, Yale University
  • Mles Orvell, Temple University
  • Nikhil Pal Singh, New York University
  • Josh Kuhn, University of Southern California
  • Lisa Duggan, New York University
  • Michael Warner, Rutgers University
  • Martin Dubberman, City University of New York