A Fire Never Extinguished

2014 Fall Conference

Plenaries

001-CivilRightsFriday evening

The Civil War in American Memory at 150: Legacies in Our Own Time
No event has left a deeper impression on America’s collective memory than the Civil War. Amidst the War’s 150th anniversary, Yale professor David Blight examines the changing nature of Civil War memory and considers how it continues to shape the country’s identity, debates, and sense of purpose.

Saturday

Cultivating Civility and Accounting For Race: American Culture in the Aftermath of The War Between the States
Surrender_of_a_Confederate_Soldier_-_Smithsonian_American_Art_Museum copy
The Civil War, a deadly and costly enterprise that affected so many in the nation, was shaped by the competing forces of honor and dishonor, memory and forgetting, freedom and enslavement. Wesleyan University’s Lois Brown explores these competing forces by asking several questions. What do these striking oppositions reveal about the ways in which the war was won and lost? How are our twenty-first century experiences and accounts of race and culture still informed, undone, and reconfigured by these volatile legacies of loss and acquisition, and victory and defeat?

The Civil War and the Transformation of American Culture and Literature
The Civil War was the most transforming event in American culture. Its memories continue to haunt and inspire people; the nation in certain respects is still fighting it; and it is impossible to imagine what the United States would look like today had it never happened. Harvard’s John Stauffer discusses three crucial aspects of this transformation — the displacement of God as a causal force in society, the masculinization of society, and the “whitening” of society — while also explaining continuities from the antebellum era, prompting “culture wars” that persist today.

How the Civil War Still Matters to American Art
Smithsonian curator Eleanor Jones Harvey considers the legacy of the Civil War in American art, examining recent work by contemporary artists Sally Mann, Dario Robleto, Terry Adkins, and William Dunlap — each of whom have addressed aspects of the Civil War as a means of exploring memory, loss, recovery, and death as conditions of the human experience.

Images: US Deputy Marshals escort six-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in November 1960; Surrender of a Confederate Soldier by Julian Scott, 1873

Learn about the Plenary Speakers


VHC-40-logo_vert_hires2Presented by the Vermont Humanities Council in collaboration with the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, with partnership and support from the National Park Service, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, Billings Farm & Museum, The Bay and Paul Foundations, Fleming Museum, the Friends of the UVM Special Collections, and the Center for Research on Vermont.


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