“Bearing the Torch”: A Conversation with Bob Hutton and Jack Neely
September 26, 2022

Learn more about the University of Tennessee’s hallowed history with author Bob Hutton and journalist Jack Neely as they discuss Hutton’s highly anticipated book Bearing the Torch: The University of Tennessee, 1794–2010.

Join us on Thursday, October 27, at 6:00pm (EDT), for a conversation with historians Hutton and Neely at the East Tennessee History Center.  Following the talk there will be a Q&A, and Hutton will be available to sign books. Purchase your copy of Bearing the Torch at the event or online.

Register to join us at tiny.utk.edu/Hutton by October 26 as seating is limited.

The University of Tennessee has its origins in Blount College, founded in 1794 and named after territorial governor William Blount even before Tennessee was a state. The last scholarly history of the university appeared in 1978, but Bob Hutton’s new book, Bearing the Torch, presents a very different treatment. It seeks nothing less than to be a social history of the university, fully integrating historical context, and allowing the book’s central “character” — the university itself — to emerge among historical themes and concerns. For example, Hutton shows how the school’s development was hampered in the early nineteenth century by Jacksonian notions of laissez-faire, including exceedingly cheap state funding (a theme that emerges often), how the school nearly disappeared as the Civil War raged in a very divided region, how the university found creative ways to resist Reconstruction, how students embraced dramatic social changes during the Progressive era, and how in the Cold War era the school became a successful research institution.

Bob Hutton is associate professor of history and Appalachian studies at Glenville State University in West Virginia. He taught history and American studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for twelve years after receiving his doctorate from Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South (2013).

Jack Neely (’81) is a writer, researcher, and longtime journalist whose award-winning column “Secret History” appeared in Metro Pulse for more than twenty years. He has served as executive director of the nonprofit Knoxville History Project since 2014. He has authored more than twenty books about Knoxville’s distinctive history, including Historic Knoxville: The Curious Visitor’s GuideHistoric BeardenKnoxville’s Old City: A Short History, and Market Square: The Most Democratic Place on Earth.

This event is a partnership with the East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville History Project, the University of Tennessee Libraries, and the University of Tennessee Press.