Gone With the Wind to Lexington?

Who knows, but in the meantime check out the excellent Washington Post article on the Museum of the Confederacy by Neely Tucker.  From the article:

Today, while the Museum of the Confederacy goes begging, the brand-new, $13 million American Civil War Center — a museum that looks at the war from three perspectives (Southern, Northern and black) — is a gleaming testament to what might be called a more modern memory of the past. It’s only a few blocks away, on the banks of the James River at the city’s Civil War-era gun foundry, a National Park Service site.

It’s on an eight-acre campus — 10 times the size of the Museum of the Confederacy site. The center’s prime backers include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson. Just six months old, it’s already packed with school kids coming to learn about the Confederacy as a flawed participant in the Civil War, not as the Great Defender of (white) Southern Heritage.

You walk into the bookstore at the Museum of the Confederacy, then the one at the Civil War Center, and the first differences you notice are the black faces on the shelves in the latter: Nat Turner. "Slave Nation." Harriet Tubman. "Remembering Slavery." There were 4 million black people in the 11 slave-owning states at the start of the Civil War, and by war’s end, 500,000 had fled to the North — one out of every eight men, women and children — looking for something, anything, other than the genteel world of the gallant South.


Confederate Heritage Month is Upon Us

Apparently the blogger at Old Hickory has taken a shine to this site.  In acknowledgment of Confederate Heritage Month a number of my entries were featured on today’s post.  Thanks for the kind words and vote of approval


Wyoming 6th Graders Learn About the Civil War

I’ve commented on this before, but I do find it curious that there is such excitement whenever a history class visits with reenactors.  There are no doubt reenactors who study their craft and who have given thought to educational outreach.  More often than not, however, I’ve read story after story of entertainment as a substitute for serious learning.  In this case we have a class of sixth graders who are quite capable of struggling with some of the core issues of the war.  Instead here is what we get:

"It got pretty loud," said Levi Kretch, 12, who, like everyone else, plugged his ears when the cannon fired.

Bob Mullen, in Yankee navy blue, showed the students a cannon round that fired much like a shotgun shell. "One of these hit you, I don’t think there’s much hope for you," he said.

Outside, another cannon volley sounded and again the children were thrilled. "Whoa . . . cool," one exclaimed from the group.

"Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?"

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Academic Conferences are the Worst

Sutherland Professional conferences are an incredible bore.  I attended a conference this past weekend where I had my first opportunity to moderate a panel.  We had four papers to fit into a 75 minute slot so I needed to be tough on the speakers in order to leave sufficient time for questions.  The panel title was broadly drawn around Nineteenth-century America" so it was somewhat difficult to keep the Q&A focused on questions that could be addressed by all of the presenters.  I find academic conferences to be absolutely draining.  There is nothing natural to have to sit in a seat for 75-90 minutes at a time and have others stand up in front of you and read a paper or read from a Powerpoint screen.  And remember we do this three or four times a day for the duration of the conference.  After roughly 100 years of this why haven’t we been able to modify the framework in ways that are more conducive to learning and scholarly exchange? 

What I find even more disturbing are those presenters that are completely oblivious to the fact that a panel does not revolve around themselves.  I listened to one presenter who went 15 minutes over her alloted time without a care in the world.  The moderator tried to flag the speaker down but to no avail.  Something happens to people when they present; it’s as if the universe itself is reduced to their own mental space.  I actually find myself wanting to jump up and literally strangle presenters who engage in this behavior.  Whenever I present a paper I make sure to time it down to the second.  I have no interest in droning on and on and I would be disappointed to learn that I stole time from someone else who also spent valuable time preparing their talk.

I have the perfect solution to deal with these types.  Whenever a speaker goes over the alloted time the audience stands, points, and lets out that screeching noise that is used in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  That’ll do it.


Distorting the Past neo-Confederate Style

[Hat-Tip to Civil Warriors]

Check out this excellent online paper which analyzes the apparent manipulation of an image of black Union soldiers:

In this paper we discuss a graphic example of Blight’s contention by examining a Civil War-era posed studio photograph of black Union soldiers with a white officer. We maintain that this photograph has been deliberately falsified in recent years by an unknown person/s sympathetic to the Confederacy. This falsified or fabricated photo, purporting to be of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards (Confederate), has been taken to promote Neo-Confederate views, to accuse Union propagandists of duplicity, and to show that black soldiers were involved in the armed defense of the Confederacy. As of the date of this website this photograph is being sold on the web by an on-line retailer, www.rebelstore.com, which promotes itself as “The Internet’s Original Rebel Store,” and advertises this photograph as a legitimate photo of “Members of the first all Black Confederate Unit organized in New Orleans in 1861.”

Read on