For a number of reasons, 2015 was an exciting year for me. In May I left the high school classroom to pursue other interests here in Boston. It began in September with an invitation to teach a research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society to twelve thoughtful and motivated college students from the college community in Worcester. I am currently pursuing a number of opportunities, but one in particular – assuming the pieces fall in place – will give me the chance to apply my skills as a teacher, researcher, and public historian. Keep your fingers crossed.
The coming year promises to be very busy on the writing front. My book on camp servants and the myth of the black Confederate soldier is coming along, albeit very slowly. I’ve experienced a number of challenges with this project from subject weariness to difficulties finding the right voice. I recently shared the first chapter with my book writing group and their suggestions went far to improving it and giving it a more coherent focus. It’s going to be slow going, but I will eventually get there.
In addition to the manuscript I am working on a book proposal for a collection of essays that will explore the Civil War sesquicentennial in various public history settings. The essays will examine how the Civil War has been interpreted over the past few years and where we go from here given the challenges surrounding our ongoing discussion/debate about Confederate iconography. Contributors will be asked to explore what this means and how it will/should impact their work as public historians. The proposal is almost completed as well as my list of potential authors.
I recently agreed to write a chapter for War is the Remedy: Toward a New Military History, which is being edited by Andrew Bledsoe and Andrew Lang and is slated for publication by the Louisiana State University Press. Other contributors include Jen Murray, Barton Myers, Ken Noe, Earl Hess Brian Jordan and John Hennessy. Back in 2004 I wrote an essay for one of my graduate seminar classes at the University of Richmond on Confederate military executions. I submitted it to the journal Civil War History, but it was rejected. Apart from writing a short narrative piece for Civil War Times, I never went back to it. This project is the perfect opportunity to return to this subject in light of the rich scholarship that has been published on Civil War soldiers over the past decade.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing for The Daily Beast this past year. My editor has been incredibly supportive and has accepted every piece submitted. You can’t beat the exposure and the challenge of crafting a concise informative and entertaining essay for a general audience. And after a 2-year hiatus it is also nice to once again land something in the Atlantic. Look for two additional essays in the not too distant future. The first is a review of PBS’s new drama series, Mercy Street, for TDB as well as a piece on the challenges of interpreting the site of Nat Turner’s Rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia for the Atlantic.
My speaking calendar is beginning to fill up, but there is plenty of time to schedule a talk or workshop. Let me know how I can help. Public speaking has always been a great way for me to meet new people and learn from others who are just as passionate about American history and education.
Finally, I want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. Here’s hoping for a successful new year in all of your endeavors. As always, thank you for your continued support.