With trimester exams completed I am now looking forward to my spring break week and the opportunity to recharge before the final push toward the end of the year in May. I hope to get in a bit of writing on the Crater manuscript and a solid week of jogging. On Tuesday I head up to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to visit with Prof. Mark Snell’s seminar, “The American Civil War in Memory and Remembrance” at Shepherd University. I first met Mark Snell back in 2005 at the annual meeting of the Society for Military History in Charleston. Mark chaired a panel on the Civil War and memory that I took part on that also included Ken Noe and Keith Bohannon. Since then we’ve remained friends. I very much appreciate Mark’s enthusiasm and support of this blog from the beginning as well as his encouragement of my own research. In addition to teaching history, Mark is the director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University. The Center is currently engaged in a number of projects, but I do want to take a minute to plug their annual conference which will take place this year in Petersburg in June. I am very excited about it since I am once again joining a stellar faculty that includes among others, Earl Hess and Will Greene. Check it out if you have a chance.
Mark has assigned my blog as regular reading throughout the semester and he thought it might be worth having me visit with his students to discuss various issues related to the format and its place in the profession and the broader culture. While I’ve discussed the role of blogging extensively over the years on this site, and even addressed a group of academic historians last year, this will be my first opportunity to engage undergraduates who may not be headed down an academic track. In preparation for that trip I’ve been perusing the archives for a few posts in which I discuss how blogging fits into my career.
What follows is a 2008 interview that I did with a graduate student at the University of Richmond who was enrolled in a Public History course.
1. What motivated you to create this website/blog? What, if anything, inspired or challenged you to create this website/blog?
Answer: I began blogging back in November 2005. At the time there were only two or three Civil War blogs, but it was Mark Grimsley’s Blog Them Out of the Stone Age which inspired me to throw my hat in the ring. What I liked about Mark’s blog was that it introduced a wide spectrum of topics related to military history to a diverse audience. It worked to bridge the divide between more casual readers of military history and scholars working in the field. I’ve tried to do the same thing with Civil War Memory. I see myself as occupying a unique position as both a high school history teacher and Civil War historian. In addition, my interests extend beyond military themes which remains the preoccupation of most Civil War enthusiasts and while I did not have specific goals in mind when I first started blogging I did hope to introduce and discuss questions and issues that are often overlooked in certain circles. These include the topics of memory, race/slavery, social/cultural history and even subjects beyond the Civil War entirely.