1968-2018 Lessons from Madison

Jerilyn Goodman's picture
June 14, 2018 to June 16, 2018
Wisconsin, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Jewish History / Studies, Film and Film History, Popular Culture Studies


Conference Explores Roots of Mid-West Radicalism and University’s Impact on Counterculture, Anti-War Movement and American Politics

 The Madison Reunion – A three-day conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), will explore how a small, university town became the mid-west epicenter of 1960s counterculture with a significant impact on the anti-war movement and American society at large. The conference will take place from June 14 to 16 at the University’s Memorial Union and at other venues on campus and throughout the city.

In addition to panels focused on the history of mid-western radicalism and the origins of the anti-war movement, there will be discussions about art, culture and science, including the neurological connection between altered states and music, psychopharmacology, and a wide-range of social justice, journalistic and social issues. For a complete list of the panels planned visit: http://www.madisonreunion.com/.

 With more students attending college in the ‘60s than at any earlier time in the nation’s history, not surprisingly, much of the anti-war movement grew on college campuses. “Just as important, a different kind of revolution was taking place on campuses in the sciences, in the arts and in just about every area of intellectual life,” said musician, author and UW grad Ben Sidran who organized the conference. “This was an unprecedented period of change in the country that continues to impact the civic discourse in our nation,” Sidran said.

Panelists from a wide-range of disciplines will participate in the reunion, many with personal connections to Madison in the ‘60s, including: journalists Walt Bogdanich and David Maraniss, filmmakers Errol Morris and Jim Abrahams, poet Ann Lauterbach, actors André de Shields and Peter Coyote, political scientist Katherine Cramer, scientist Richard Davidson, and political activist Margery Tabankin.

Stuart Levitan, author of the book Madison in the Sixties to be released this Fall by Wisconsin Historical Society Press, writes, "Thanks to UW students, and some faculty, Madison was on the cutting edge of culture and politics throughout the decade. Madison had an underground newspaper eight months before Rolling Stone began publication, a lakefront Be-In featuring Allen Ginsberg a month before the Summer of Love, and nude dancers in a counter-culture version of Peter Pan a month before Hair opened. The city also saw the country’s first on-campus riot against the war in Vietnam, the first off-campus riot over lifestyle, and a civil rights narrative that moved from a handful of picketers protesting segregation at southern lunch counters to thousands of students blocking buildings and traffic to demand a black studies department (which they got). Madison is also the last place Bob Dylan stayed before he finally made it to New York for the first time, which, by itself, is a mark of lasting distinction."

 The Madison Reunion offers free events and activities open to the public including exhibits of ‘60s art and artifacts in a number of venues on campus and around the city of Madison, tie-dying parties, live music and dancing, trolley rides and a ‘60s sing-along and ice cream social. All panel discussions and concerts by The Temptations and blues musicians Boz Scaggs, Tracy Nelson and Ben Sidran at the UW Memorial Union are ticketed events. The ‘60s rock band Steely Dan with the Doobie Brothers will also be performing in Madison that weekend.

For more information, visit madisonreunion.com or email info@madisonreunion.com.

Contact Info: 

Jerilyn Goodman University of Wisconsin-Madison '71