Common-place Marks Civil War Sesquicentennial

Megan Kate Nelson, Kevin LevinIn between the final day’s sessions yesterday at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Megan Kate Nelson and I met over lunch and cocktails to talk a little business.  Over the next few months we will be co-editing a special issue of Common-place on the Civil War Sesquicentennial and Civil War memory.  The issue is slated for publication in early 2014.  As it stands our approach will be regional with a particular focus on what is currently happening on the ground at various sites, which is broadly construed.  We are trying to cast as wide a net as possible with as many different voices and perspectives as possible.  The nice thing about working with Common-place is that we have a great deal of flexibility both in terms of the number of essays we commission and their length.

While we have a sense of who we would like to write featured essays we could use some help with the book review section.  Given the focus of the issue, we are looking for a broad selection of recently and soon-to-be published books on the Civil War and historical memory.  Of course, we are going to try to get an advanced copy of Carrie Janney’s forthcoming studyin UNC Press’s Littlefield Series as well as Linda Barnickel’s Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory, which I can’t wait to read for the obvious reasons.  Beyond that the floor is open to your suggestions.  What’s out there that you think should be reviewed in this special issue?  Feel free to think a bit outside the box.  Again, we are pretty flexible given the digital format.

The photograph accompanying this post is of your two editors at work.  It’s appropriately dark given that we are still unclear as to what all of this will come to in the end.  We also thought a before and after shot would be appropriate to see if we are still congenial toward one another by the time we reach final publication.  We shall see.  I suspect that as long as there is an occasional cocktail along the way we will be just fine.

Finally, congratulations to Megan.  Her book, Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War was named a Finalist for the 2012 Jefferson Davis prize by the Museum of the Confederacy.  It is certainly well deserved.

4 responses... add one

I’d like to see you review Tom Huntington’s “Searching for George Meade,” a memory study with a quirky format that could either be engaging and thought-provoking or very lame.

Hi Will,

Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve seen it around, but haven’t given it much thought.

Hi Kevin, how about something on transnationalism and CW memory? I’ve always found it interesting that roundtables and re-enactor groups span the globe. In Australia, for instance, there’s a network of these groups, many of which have been active since the 1960s. These groups exist in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the U.K., Germany, and Malaysia, among other places, often with links to groups in the US. The literature on CW memory hasn’t had much to say so far on how or why interest in this particular conflict has been so widespread. Something on this topic might help to put the newish literature on the international dimensions of the CW into conversation with the scholarship on CW memory.

There’s another phenomenon that might (or might not?) be related to this modern remembering of the war; that is, the postwar disaspora of CW vets. Thousands of vets migrated overseas at the end of the war — some were migrants who’d fought in the war and were now returning home, and others were fleeing from postwar economic chaos. I know that hundreds of them came to Australia. I’ve always wondered in there’s a link between reenactor groups and roundtables and these postwar generations of veterans. Either way, i think it would be worthwhile for someone to study the impact of this movement of vets beyond American shores. In ways that no one has yet thought much about, remembering the CW has always been a global phenomenon.

Hi Frances,

This is a wonderful suggestion, which we did not think of. Any thoughts about who could write such an essay?

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