Ken Burns to Speak at Bucknell University

January 30, 2018

Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will speak at Bucknell University on Monday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Burns is widely considered among the most accomplished documentarians, with numerous acclaimed works including The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz. Burns will begin the event with remarks on his most recent project, The Vietnam War, before taking selected questions from the audience during a conversation moderated by Bucknell President John Bravman. 

Presented by the Bucknell Forum, the event is free and open to the public, although tickets are required. 

Burns has been making films for nearly 40 years and has directed or produced a number of acclaimed documentaries, including Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, Huey Long, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, The WarThe National Parks: America's Best Idea, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Jackie Robinson and Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War. 

Burns's films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including 15 Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations. At the 2008 News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Named Most Influential
A December 2002 poll conducted by Realscreen magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North as the "most influential documentary of all time," and named Burns and Robert Flaherty as the "most influential documentary makers" of all time. 

"Burns is not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period," wrote David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun in March 2009. "That includes feature filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. I say that because Burns not only turned millions of persons onto history with his films, he showed us a new way of looking at our collective past and ourselves." 

Wynton Marsalis has called Burns "a master of timing, and of knowing the sweet spot of a story, of how to ask questions to get to the basic human feeling and to draw out the true spirit of a given subject." 

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Burns as its 2016 Jefferson Lecturer, the highest honor the federal government confers for "distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." In doing so, the NEH stated, "Ken Burns, the acclaimed filmmaker, has conveyed more history to more Americans than perhaps anyone. Working with primary materials such as diaries, letters, official records, and historical sound and imagery, he has elevated a distinct style of filmmaking and culled a vast ensemble of authentic voices to fill out a broad and compelling narrative of the American experience." 

Burns's future projects include films on the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, Benjamin Franklin, the American Revolution, the history of crime and punishment in America, Leonardo da Vinci, Lyndon B. Johnson, civil rights, Winston Churchill, and the history of American innovation and technology, among others.

Event Information
Current Bucknell students, faculty and staff may receive up to two free tickets at the Weis Center box office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the day of the event. A valid Bucknell University ID is required to receive advance tickets. Use of multiple Bucknell IDs to pick up additional sets of tickets is prohibited.

A limited number of seats are available for our alumni community. Alumni who are interested in attending should contact

Tickets will be available for the general public at the Weis Center box office beginning at 6 p.m. on the evening of the event. All individuals may receive up to two free tickets, depending on availability. The Weis Center lobby will open at 6 p.m. with doors to the auditorium opening at 6:30 p.m.

Individuals should be seated by 7:15 p.m., as unoccupied seats will be released at this time. An ASL interpreter will be signing at the event for the deaf and hard of hearing community. If attendees need this service, they are asked to contact for seating arrangements. Questions regarding this event should be directed to the Division of Communications by calling 570-577-3260 or by emailing

This event will be recorded and broadcast on WVIA-TV, the local PBS network affiliate. Airdates and times will be announced at a later date.

About the Bucknell Forum
Since 2007, the Bucknell Forum speaker series has featured nationally renowned leaders, scholars and commentators who have examined various issues from multidisciplinary and diverse viewpoints.