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Fall symposium to explore American cultural life during Civil War

The Ransom Center announces the 11th Flair Symposium, “Cultural Life During Wartime, 1861–1865” to take place September 18–20.

 

The symposium is organized in conjunction with the Ransom Center’s upcoming fall exhibition, The Making of Gone With The Wind, which opens September 9. In the 75 years since the film’s release, Gone With The Wind and the novel that inspired it have helped shape the way many Americans understand and remember the Civil War.

 

The symposium looks back to the nineteenth century to examine the cultural world of Union and Confederate painters, photographers, musicians, theater companies, and writers. The songs, images, poems, books, and plays that appeared between 1861 and 1865 offer a nuanced perspective on the Civil War that challenges later narratives, both fictional and historical.

 

Historians, literary critics, musicologists, and art historians will gather in Austin to discuss the works of well-known figures such as Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, and Frederick Douglass, as well as works related to “Rose’s War,” an 1865 slave insurrection, and the 1864 “Siege of Atlanta.” Panelists will also reflect on the expanding Civil War canon and the legacy of the war’s cultural productions.

 

Deborah Willis, professor and chair of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, will deliver the keynote address, which is co-sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

To register and view more information, including the full list of panelists and a schedule, visit the Flair website.

Materials on display for musical "Rappahannock County"

Photo by David A. Beloff.
Photo by David A. Beloff.

Rappahannock County, a new musical theater piece about life during the Civil War, will be performed tonight and tomorrow night at McCullough Theater at The University of Texas at Austin. The Ricky Ian Gordon-Mark Campbell work was co-commissioned by Texas Performing Arts to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and draws from diaries, letters, and personal accounts to explore the war’s impact, from secession to defeat, on a community of Virginians.

In honor of the work’s Texas premiere, Civil War-era documents from the Ransom Center will be on display in the Center’s lobby through October 2.

On display is an early edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin and scripts from the first stage-production of the play based on her novel. Both the book and the stage adaptions are credited with fueling the abolitionist cause of the 1850s.

Other artifacts on display include an original Timothy H. O’Sullivan photograph of Civil War Casualties, Field Where General Reynolds Fell, Gettysburg, July 1863; letters to the American poet Walt Whitman from grateful Union and Confederate soldiers whom Whitman visited and nursed in field hospitals; Abraham Lincoln campaign pins and memorial buttons; and documents relating to the production of the film Gone With The Wind (1939), including the “Burning of Atlanta” storyboard.