Dr. David Bulla, interim chair of the Department of Communication, and Dr. Debra van Tuyll, professor of Communication, won Awards of Excellence for research at the 25th Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression on Nov. 3.
Held at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and sponsored by the George R. West, Jr. Chair of Excellence in Communication and Public Affairs, the symposium celebrates and examines the work of 19th century journalists and journalism practices.
Bulla presented a paper titled, “’More than a Skirmish’: Press Coverage of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates,” and van Tuyll presented another titled, “The Fire-Eating Charleston Mercury: Stoking the Flames of Secession and Civil War.” Both papers are slated to appear in a book about the Antebellum press, an anthology of similar research put together by David Sachsman, renowned scholar of the 19th century press and current West Chair at UTC.
“It’s a great honor,” said Bulla, who joined the university earlier this year.
Well-versed in the subject of media literacy, Bulla said the research he and van Tuyll do is important not only because it preserves the country’s rich journalistic history but because it also highlights journalistic trends relevant to today’s political climate.
“Some scholars refer to Lincoln as a dictator—a ‘constitutional dictator’—something the press of the times were quick to point out, on both sides of the divide,” Bulla said. “We’re living in a very divisive time in American history, and it’s important to remind ourselves just how fragile our First Amendment rights—our right to a free press—really are.”