Category Archives: Teaching

How Would You Teach Secession?

Today my Civil War class will continue to discuss the background leading up to Lincoln’s election and the first wave of secession that took place between December 1860 and February 1861. My students are pouring through a collection of documents related to the secession conventions as well as speeches by Alexander Stephens and Jefferson Davis. For Monday they will read a selection from Charles Dew’s Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. Continue reading

12 Years a Slave Earns Nine Oscar Nominations

12 Years A SlaveThe movie has been in limited release up til now, but I suspect that with Golden Globe Award for Best Drama and nine Oscar Nominations that this is going to change very soon. This is wonderful news for what is clearly the most important Hollywood movie about slavery to appear in decades. A number of my students have seen the film and they all come back wanting to talk about it. Even given the nature of the violence depicted in this film, I have no doubt that 12 Years a Slave will eventually be used in classrooms across the country. It already is through the textbooks, documents, and other primary sources that history teachers utilize

On a related note, I highly recommend checking out NPR’s ongoing series of conversations from their Race Card Project. I’ve caught most of them on my way to work in the morning. Yesterday I used this discussion at the beginning of my Civil War Memory class on the subject of antebellum slavery.

The Year of the Crater/Upcoming Talks

Commemorating 1864 means, among other things, commemorating and remembering the battle of the Crater. As you might imagine the highlight for me will be the opportunity to speak in Petersburg on the anniversary of the battle itself on July 30. Beyond that I wanted to take a minute to share where I will be discussing the Crater in the next few months both here in Boston and elsewhere.

  • February 7: “Lincoln, Race, and the Battle of the Crater,” Boston Union Club, Boston, MA.
  • February 9: Book Signing and Talk, “Remembering the Battle of the Crater,” Sons of Union Veterans, Concord, MA.
  • February 17: Book Signing and Talk, “Remembering the Battle of the Crater,” University of North Carolina at Pembroke/Workshop with area teachers on digital literacy and the myth of the black Confederate soldier.
  • March 15: Confederates Assess the Battle of the Crater, Longwood University, Civil War Seminar, Longwood, VA.

My calendar is quickly filling up, but I am still open to additional speaking engagements as long as they don’t conflict with my teaching responsibilities. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

“The Plantation Called New York City”

Here is Sanitation Department chaplain, Reverend Fred Lucas’s invocation at New York City Mayor de Blasio’s inauguration on January 1. I honestly don’t know what I think of it. Most of the commentary that I’ve read gives me very little to think about, though I did find Greg Downs’s opinion piece to be helpful. May use it as part of my Civil War Memory class, which I am teaching this semester.