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Saturday, January 21, 2017

6th UCLA Masonic Conference: 300 Years of Freemasonry 3/4/17

The 6th International Conference at UCLA will be held on Saturday, March 4th, 2017. This year's conference is entitled 300 Years of Freemasonry: Its Meaning as Its Founding and Today.

As part of its collaborative partnership with the history department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Institute for Masonic Studies presents an annual International Conference on Freemasonry on the UCLA campus. Open to students, historians, and members of the general public, these events seek to educate and inspire scholars of the craft.

Saturday, March 4
8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Grand Horizon Ballroom, UCLA
$30 Conference registration/$20 Optional catered lunch

On June 26, 2017, Freemasons throughout the world will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first grand lodge in England – considered to be the landmark date from which the fraternity’s origins are measured. Although the values and rituals established by the earliest Masons are still at the heart of Freemasonry, it is an ever-evolving craft that has been inspired and transformed by the societies to which it has expanded as the years passed. Freemasonry has endured for centuries, but it remains a living craft that is handed down from generation to generation of good men seeking a more enlightened existence.
* Explore the foundation of the first grand lodge: Is the 300th anniversary historically accurate, or is the "history" we ascribe to based on legends handed down through the ages?
* Learn how a religious revolution sparked the fraternity's embrace of religious diversity, subjectivity, and rationalism.
* Study the Masonic rites in 18th century France, how they affected candidates, and how these historic ritual experiences reflect upon today's rituals.
* Discover how studying Freemasonry and government in early Mexico may offer insight into Masons' incentives to protect democratic societies.
* Gain a better understanding of how Prince Hall Masonry has come to be recognized throughout most of the United States.
Presenters include:
Said Chaaya, Ph.D. is a historian of the modern Middle East. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the UCLA History Department's Freemasonry and Civil Society Program.
Kenneth Loiselle, Ph.D. is a historian of 18th-century France with a particular interest in the history of Freemasonry. Loiselle is an associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an affiliated researcher at the Center for the Contemporary and Modern Mediterranean at the University of Nice in France.
Andrew Prescott, Ph.D. is professor of digital humanities at the University of Glasgow. From 2000-2007, he directed the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. He has also served as a librarian and archivist at the University of Wales Lampeter and as head of the Digital Humanities Department at King's College in London.
Cécile Révauger, Ph.D. is professor emeritus of English studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University in France. She is the author of five books which have been translated into multiple languages, including, "Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz, Inner Traditions," 2016. She is also the director of "Monde Maçonnique" - a collection on Freemasonry.
María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, Ph.D. was a visiting professor at the UCLA History Department from 2010 to 2016. She has published several articles and book chapters on Mexican Freemasonry, the origins of the political party system in Mexico, and the formation of public opinion.
Susan Mitchell Sommers, Ph.D. is professor of history at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She is the author of "Parliamentary Politics of a County and Its Town: General Elections in Suffolk and Ipswich in the 18th Century" (2002) and "Thomas Dunckerley and English Freemasonry" (2012). 

Register at the website HERE.


On the plus side, it's good to see Andrew Prescott and Susan Mitchell Sommers there with their new research that poses new questions and presents uncovered evidence about the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, questioning the 1717 date.

On the negative side, it's disappointing that Cécile Révauger is being given more respectability than she deserves. I've seen and heard her in person with her open, contemptuous dismissal of anyone questioning her unsourced and/or questionable suppositions and conclusions. Her answer when questioned (by a HIGHLY respected, published, and eminently qualified fellow PhD several years ago in Scotland) about an unsupported and just plain wrong statement that formed a portion of her presentation was a dismissive wave of the hand and the sentence, "It is a well known fact." 


Dr. Oscar Alleyne's blistering back and forth exchanges with her in the most recent issue #34 of the Journal of the Masonic Society, following his scathing review in Issue 33, only reinforce my own (admittedly surface) personal observation of her methods. She makes too many superficial, cultural and 'historical' declarations and errors masquerading as sophisticated pronouncements to be taken seriously as a researcher regarding Prince Hall and African-American Freemasonry. Unfortunately, her book will become a future reference for academics for no other reason than the fact that no one else more rigorous or qualified than a white French woman filled the gaping void on the subject of an American, male organization within a minority community, that demands far deeper understanding of a complicated social relationship. That's a damn shame. 

I know this all sounds like jealous or misinformed whinging from a hack who writes For Dummies books, but I've read many of the same resources she has, and the scholars who questioned her have, too. So, while I really wanted to recommend her book, if only out of desperation for a scholarly treatment of the subject, I just can't in good conscience do it, and I am not happy that she's being trotted out for events like this, both in the US and internationally. It would be like me trying to publish a book striving to be the definitive text about the cultural and historical implications, causes, and effects of Laïcité based on what "everybody knows" and reading the Introduction to a Lonely Planet Paris tourist guide book.

Another disappointment is that John Hairston is not included in the lineup for the Conference, in light of his own new documentary research about the formation of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Unlike Révauger, his book really IS rigorous and important. But perhaps the speakers had been set in place before his book came out late last year. And I suspect John doesn't have enough respectable letters after his name for such a tony venue. I CAN recommend his work HERE: Landmarks Of Our Fathers.

2 comments:

  1. Well. Cecille does her research in several languages, has held a professorate, and has supervized a number of theses and mentored some good students. She certainly is a spirited presenter -- nobody ever fell asleep during one of her talks. And she has a self deprecatory sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there do you know if there is a place to get the conferences and presentations of the 300 Years of Freemasonry: Its Meaning as Its Founding and Today conferences? Thank you

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