This documentary film screening, and following panel and audience discussion, will examine the legacy of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, known as the Johns Committee (1956-1965), in current social and political debates concerning public higher education in Florida nearly half a century later. Under the direction of Florida Senator Charley Johns, the Johns Committee was designed by the Florida State Senate to weed out communism and homosexual activity across Florida. The Committee chose the University of Florida in 1958 as its first academic target. Building on the January and February panel discussions about academic freedom and diversity, this event will link to ongoing conversations about political influence in higher education, support for gay and lesbian students, staff, and faculty at UF, and decisions about how to record our collective memory of individuals and events at UF (including the J. Wayne Reitz Union). Following the film screening and four ten-minute presentations, there will be time for a question and answer period and more broad discussion of these issues.
Churchill Roberts, College of Journalism and Communications (University of Florida)
Allyson Beutke DeVito, Author of the film "Behind Closed Doors"
Stacy Braukman, Writer and Editor
Kim Emery, Department of English (University of Florida)
Jim Schnur, Special Collections (USF-St. Petersburg); Department of History (Eckerd College)
Further information on this and associated events can be found in the UF Digital Collections here.
Allyson Beutke DeVito (Panelist) is the co-producer, with Scott Litvack, of the 2000 documentary entitled “Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee.” This documentary served as the creative thesis for completion of their master’s degrees in Mass Communication at The Documentary Institute, formerly at the University of Florida. Ms. Beutke DeVito is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and part-time faculty in the Division of Instructional Communication at the University of Kentucky and in the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University.
Stacy Braukman (Panelist) is the author of Communists and Perverts under the Palms: The Johns Committee in Florida, 1956-1965 (University Press of Florida, 2012). She received a PhD in history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She works as a writer and editor, and lives in Atlanta.
Kim Emery (Panelist) is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Florida. Since joining the UF faculty in 1994, she has taught courses in queer theory, pragmatism and performativity, critical pedagogy, and U.S. literatures and culture. She is the author of The Lesbian Index: Pragmatism and Lesbian Subjectivity in the Twentieth-Century United States (SUNY UP, 2002) and is currently at work on a book about queer theory and the future of the university. She is a past president of the UF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida and a member of the bargaining team that negotiated the historic 2010-2013 collective bargaining agreement .
Churchill Roberts (Moderator) is a Professor in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, where he co-directed the Documentary Institute. He is co-author (with Samuel L. Becker) of Discovering Mass Communication, and he has served as co-director/co-producer of several PBS documentaries, "Giving Up the Canal" (1990), "Campaign for Cuba" (1992), "Last Days of the Revolution" (1994), "Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore" (2001), and "Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power" (2006). His teaching and research interests include documentary film, international telecommunication, and the impact of media on society.
Jim Schnur (Panelist) serves as special collections librarian at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and adjunct instructor of history at Eckerd College. While a graduate student in History at USF, he completed a master's thesis in 1995 that documented the history of the Johns Committee and the political climate that nurtured its actions. Mr. Schnur's research focuses on all aspects of the Committee's history, including attacks against the civil rights movement in Florida, academic freedom violations, and gay and lesbian witch hunts.
Following the 2011-2012 speaker series “Rehumanizing the University: New Perspectives on the Liberal Arts,” the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere invites UF faculty, students, and members of the public to join in this series of panel discussions on academic freedom and activism; racial, gender, and ethnic integration; sexual freedom; dialogues between sciences and humanities; and the impact of market forces at the University of Florida (and North Florida more generally).
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information on "Humanizing Conversations" and "Rehumanizing the University," including video recordings of most events, can be found in the UF Digital Collections here.
The History of Academic Freedom and Activism at UF (panel)
28 January, 6:00-7:30 pm, Smathers Library (East) 1A
Diversifying the UF Student Body, Faculty, and Curriculum (panel)
25 February, 6:00-7:30 pm, Smathers Library (East) 1A
"Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee" at UF (film and panel)
11 March, 5:30 film, 6:00-7:30 pm panel, Smathers Library (East) 1A
The Humanities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fields (panel)
25 March, 6:00-7:30 pm, Smathers Library (East) 1A
Science over Humanities: How Privatization and Vocational Training in
Higher Education Reinforce Social Stratification
Lecture by Sheila Slaughter (University of Georgia)
2 April, 6:00-7:30 pm, Ustler Hall Atrium (2nd floor)
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611