On Tuesday, September 27th, Richards Center affiliates are invited to participate in a manuscript workshop featuring predoctoral fellow Lauren Feldman. Those interested in participating should read the pre-circulated paper beforehand and be willing to participate in a constructive conversation. This event is open to Richards Center affiliated graduate students, pre-docs, post-docs, and faculty.
On Saturday, September 17th, Richards Center affiliates are invited to join Dr. Gregory Downs and Dr. Kate Masur, editors of The Journal of the Civil War Era, to workshop papers with the contributors to an upcoming special issue of the Journal entitled “Asia and the United States in the Civil War Era.” Those who register for the event are expected t0 read the pre-circulated papers and be respectful of the collaborative dialogue between the volume’s contributors. This event is open to Richards Center affiliated graduate students, pre-docs, post-docs, and faculty.
During this Lunchtime Discussion, editors of The Journal of the Civil War Era, Gregory Downs and Kate Masur, will join members of the Richards Center community for an informal discussion about their own research and writing processes as well as their work as journal editors. This event is open to Richards Center affiliated graduate students, pre-docs, post-docs, and faculty.
Gregory Downs is a professor of history at University of California, Davis and the author of three books of history, most recently The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic. He also published a prize-winning book of short stories.
Kate Masur is the Board of Visitors Professor of History at Northwestern University. She’s currently working with illustrator Liz Clarke on a graphic history of Reconstruction in the Washington, D.C., region. Her recent book, Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction (W.W. Norton 2021), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History, won the John Nau Prize, and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick for 2021.
Downs and Masur have collaborated on three amicus briefs for federal courts, including to the U.S. Supreme Court in the current affirmative action case, and a report to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. They co-authored the National Historic Landmarks theme study “The Era of Reconstruction, 1861-1900” for the National Park Service, co-edited The World the Civil War Made (UNC Press 2015); and currently serve as editors of The Journal of the Civil War Era.
On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, Dr. Brian Luskey, Professor of History at West Virginia University, will deliver “Mercenaries or Patriots? Bounty Men in the Union Army,” for an event sponsored by the Richards Center and organized in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Civil War Round Table. The lecture will take place from 7:00pm to 8:00pm at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg and is free and open to the public.
Dr. Luskey is the author of two books, On the Make: Clerks and the Quest for Capital in Nineteenth-Century America (New York University Press, 2010) and Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). At West Virginia University, he teaches courses on antebellum and Civil War America, Abraham Lincoln, American cultural history, and the history of capitalism.
Co-sponsored by the Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center, and organized by Dr. Maryam K. Aziz, Richards Center & African Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow, this Works-in-Progress Paper Symposium will be held virtually on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29, 2022. The theme is “Histories of Healing: An Africana Symposium on Movement and Wellness.” African-descended folks in the Americas have always given serious thought to what activities and materials human beings need to live full lives. Developing strategies to heal and feel well, mentally and physically, reoccurred in Black community building and organizing during the 20th century. Considerations about how to thrive and find joy under systems of oppression centered diverse practices of body movement that were intimately connected to mental and spiritual wellness.
This symposium focuses on connecting scholars whose research provides new thoughts on histories of Black bodies in motion as healing. Practices of African- and Asian descended-movements proliferated the decades that preceded, encompassed, and followed the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Papers will flesh out how movement practices such as karate, yoga, diving, and bachata animated Black life while forcing practitioners to grapple with questions of Diaspora, U.S. cultural imperialism, racial formation, gender, and sexuality. Selected papers will move beyond theorizations of the “body” to explore the myriad ways that historicizing Black peoples’ attention to, and love of movement, captures the relationship of ease and embodiment to “Blackness.” Overall, this symposium aims to bridge the scholarly divide that can separate diverse movement practices and parse out the relationship between the written archive, the oral archive, and the archives inscribed in the techniques passed down in arts of movements.
Please join the Richards Center for the first in a new series of virtual book conversations on Wednesday, December 1 at 4pm EST. The 75-minute conversation will feature editors Sean Morey Smith and Christopher Willoughby, and contributors Rana Hogarth, Elise Mitchell, and Deirdre Cooper Owens on the new book, Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery. Former Richards Center Postdoctoral Fellow Sasha Turner will moderate the discussion.
Shakespeare Fights the Civil War
Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University, will deliver the 2021 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lectures. The lectures will take place on Zoom.
Thursday, October 14, 5:30 p.m. EDT: Political Speech and the Rhetoric of War
Friday, October 15, 5:30 p.m. EDT: Shakespeare at War
Saturday, October 16, 4:00 p.m. EDT: National Identity and Cultural Affinity
These lectures examine how warring parties engaged Shakespeare during America’s deadliest conflict. Shakespeare spoke to the cultural and political moment like no other figure. Macbeth and Julius Caesar had something to say about tyranny. The Tempest and Richard II offered a meditation on usurpation. And Henry V and Richard III told of war and its effects on those who waged it. What’s more, Shakespeare played a critical role in the nationalist strivings of both the Union and the Confederacy. Just as each warring party posited itself as the rightful inheritor of the Founding Fathers’ vision, both harkened back to Shakespeare in a similar fashion and for similar reasons. Finally, Civil War-era Americans also turned to Shakespeare for universal truths. Shakespeare, they believed, spoke to abiding concerns, such as the soul of genius, the power of the imagination, and of the heroic individual’s ability to determine an event’s outcome. By elucidating how Unionists and Confederates interpreted Shakespeare and, in turn, how Shakespeare shaped their understanding of war, these lectures reveal how the war’s participants turned to Shakespeare to articulate and justify what they thought and felt about the war and its attendant consequences.
Dr. Sarah E. Gardner is Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia. Her work focuses on the cultural and intellectual history the Civil War era through the early decades of the twentieth century. She is the author of Blood and Irony: Southern White Women’s Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 and Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Southern Renaissance, 1920-1941. Most recently she has co-edited with Natalie J. Ring, The Lost Lectures of C. Vann Woodward and, with Steven M. Stowe, Insiders, Outsiders: Toward a New History of Southern Thought.
In 2020, the Supreme Court held in McGirt v. Oklahoma that the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation remained and therefore Oklahoma lacked criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving tribal citizens. The ruling has since been extended to include the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations. In a virtual format, the panelists will discuss the impact of this decision on the Five Tribes and explore its implications for other Native nations as well. Each speaker will consider some of the ways Native Nations are considering the promises and potentially unfulfilled possibilities at the end of the trail.
Stacy Leeds (Cherokee Nation), is the Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University and Dean Emeritus of University of Arkansas College of Law. Leeds is a former Justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and former Chairperson of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. She is currently a district court judge for Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Doug Kiel (Oneida Nation), is an Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University. He recently published the article “Nation v. Municipality: Indigenous Land Recovery, Settler Resentment, and Taxation on the Oneida Reservation” in NAIS, a case that ended favorably for the Oneida Nation in part because of the McGirt decision. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Unsettling Territory: Oneida Indian Resurgence and Anti-Sovereignty Backlash.”
Chief Ben Barnes (Shawnee Tribe) currently serves the Shawnee Tribe as the elected chief of the Tribal Council. He has also served as the Director of Tribal Gamingfor Miami Nation Enterprises. He advocates for language and cultural preservation. He is the co-author of “Salvaging the Salvage Anthropologists: Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, Carl Voegelin, and the Future of Ethnohistory,” which articulates an important call to scholars to collaborate with Native nations whenever possible.
Dr. Lorien Foote, Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M University, will deliver the 2019 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lectures. The lectures will take place on October 24, 25, and 26 in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, and are free and open to the public. This lecture series is sponsored by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State through the generosity of an endowment by Steven and Janice Brose.
Thursday, October 24, 6:00pm EDT: “The Sternest Feature of War”: The Ritual of Retaliation
Friday, October 25, 6:00p, EDT: Barbarians in a Civilized War: Retaliation and Servile Insurrection
Saturday, October 26, 4:00pm: “Present Difficulty and Future Danger”: Retaliation and Free Black POWs
The three lectures will cover civilization and savagery in the American Civil War, retaliation, and the conduct of campaigns. Every military campaign of the American Civil War included a ritual of retaliation. In these incidents, a commander charged his opponent with violating the customs of civilized warfare among western nations. The commander stated that if he did not receive a satisfactory response to his charge, he would retaliate, often threatening to execute prisoners of war that had been set aside for the purpose. During these negotiations, military commanders and the Lincoln and Davis administrations drew the lines that they believed should not be crossed in civilized warfare. Retaliation shaped how the Union and the Confederacy conducted their military campaigns, yet there has been no scholarly study of the practice. The Brose Lectures will use the rituals of retaliation to help the audience understand the cultural construct of “civilization” in the nineteenth century and its relationship to military practice in the Civil War.
Dr. Foote is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M University. She is the author of four books on the American Civil War and numerous articles and essays. Her books include The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy (2016), which was a 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Manhood, Honor, and Violence in the Union Army (2010), which was a finalist and Honorable Mention for the 2011 Lincoln Prize. In addition to numerous publications, her digital humanities project Fugitive Generals: A Digital Investigation of Escaped Union Prisoners maps the escape and movement of 3000 Federal prisoners of war. She is the co-editor, along with Earl J. Hess, of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Civil War.
The post-Civil War world witnessed an explosion of rights demands by a wide range of women—more than at any point in U.S. history. Yet we have little history of this. Instead, the conventional story focuses on women’s suffrage as the main event, eclipsing the many other rights campaigns women launched. This workshop aims to foreground those other rights demands and spur new thinking about how we might narrate this complex expansion in women’s claims upon dignity and equality.
On Friday, September 20 and Saturday September 21, 2019, the Richards Center, along with the Department of African American Studies, the Africana Research Center, the Department of History, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Penn State University Libraries, hosted Women’s Rights and the Post-Civil War World. Tera Hunter delivered the keynote lecture, “‘Confronted by Both a Woman Question and a Race Problem’: African American Women, Slavery, and Post-Civil War Rights” on Friday evening the Foster Auditorium. Scholars, including Lori Ginzberg, Kimberley Reilly, Charlene J. Fletcher, Tiffany Hale, Cathleen Cahill, Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Felicity Turner, and Lisa Tetrault, gathered on Saturday to share and discuss papers with workshop participants.
Dr. Stephen Kantrowitz, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will deliver the 2018 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lectures. The three lectures, entitled Citizenship and Civilization: A Ho-Chunk History of the Civil War Era, will take place on November 1, 2, and 3 in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, and are free and open to the public. This lecture series is sponsored by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State through the generosity of an endowment by Steven and Janice Brose.
Thursday, November 1, 6:00 p.m.: Hiding in Plain Sight: Native Americans and the History of American Citizenship
Friday, November 2, 6:00pm: “The Habits and Customs of Civilization”: Citizenship and Belonging in the Ho-Chunk Diaspora
Saturday, November 3, 4:00 p.m.: Conquered Citizens: Ho-Chunks and Settlers in Post-Removal Teejop
This lecture series will ask, how did Native Americans shape the emergence of national citizenship in the 1860s, and how did national citizenship reshape Indian life? How were jurisdiction and allegiance in the Civil War era mediated by notions of “civilization”? Citizenship and Civilization explores these questions through the removal, diaspora, defiance, and creativity of Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk people, the settlers who sought to displace them, and the officials and politicians who oversaw the confusing and often violent world of the mid-nineteenth-century Midwest.
Dr. Kantrowitz is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his scholarship and teaching focus on race, politics, and citizenship in the nineteenth century. His publications include More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889 (Penguin, 2012), which was a finalist for both the Lincoln Prize and the Frederick Douglass Prize; Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy (UNC Press, 2000), which won several scholarly awards and was a New York Times Notable Book; articles in The Journal of American History, Boston Review, and other periodicals; and an edited collection on the history of African American Freemasonry, All Men Free and Brethren (Cornell University Press, 2013). He has been a Fulbright Distinguished Chair of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and an OAH Distinguished Lecturer. He is currently a Senior Fellow at UW-Madison’s Institute for Research in the Humanities.
In 2017, the Richards Center partnered with the Department of African American Studies and the Penn State Libraries to host a two-day conference titled Rethinking Violence in African American History: History, Memory, Trauma. Nan Woodruff, Professor of African American Studies and Modern U.S. History, organized the conference, which grew out of her research into the legacies of racist violence since the Civil Rights era. The conference explored the impact of racial violence from Reconstruction through Jim Crow segregation and from the Civil Rights movement to the present. Participants included social activists, Penn State faculty, and visiting scholars from the fields of history, anthropology, political science, and law whose collective work expose the historical dimensions of racial violence in U.S. history and the terror it created. Associate Professor of History and African American Studies Crystal Sanders, Richards Center director and Ferree Professor of Middle American History William Blair, and Woodruff presented papers drawn from their current book projects. Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law at the Northeastern University School of Law, delivered the keynote address, “Racial Violence, Rendition, and Radical Lawyering: 1930-1960.” Dianna Freelon-Foster, a longtime Civil Rights activist, gave the closing address, advocating for the use of history to effect social change in the present.
The conference comes at a time of growing public discourse over racism in state violence and the criminal justice system. Dr. Woodruff noted that “racial violence has been central to U.S. history since the founding of a country built on African slavery. The legacies of racial violence and terror continue to resonate in our society as revealed in the persistence of state violence, the incarceration state, and growing racial inequality.” Rethinking Violence in African American History places the contemporary discourse on racial and state violence in a historical context and focuses on the recovery of the legacy of violence and trauma that can be found in the historical memories of African American communities, families, and individuals.
In 2015 the Richards Center joined with the University of Calgary in organizing an international conference, Remaking North American Sovereignty: Towards a Continental History of State Transformation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. The conference took place from July 30 to August 1 at Canada’s renowned Banff Centre, an incubator for artistic, cultural, and intellectual projects. Convening amidst the 150th anniversaries of the end of the U.S. Civil War (1865), Canadian Confederation (1867), the restoration of the Mexican Republic (1867), and the prosecution of wars and signing of treaties between these states and Native Americans, the conference discussed shared patterns of change that remade the North American map in the 1860s. More than 60 leading scholars attended from Canada, England, Mexico, and the United States to pioneer a hemispheric approach to studying the profound social, political, and governmental transformations that took place throughout the continent in the Civil War era. As the conference organizers explained, the event allowed scholars the opportunity to examine “the real interconnections across the continent” to see “an inter-related struggle to re-define the relationship of North Americans to new governments.” Plans are under way to publish material from the conference in various venues, including in a special issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era titled Crises of Sovereignty in the 1860s.
Co-sponsor Frank Towers, Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary, noted that “the event exceeded expectations for all involved” and thanked the Richards Center for “playing the lead role in funding the conference” and making it possible.
The Richards Center’s co-sponsorship of the conference was made possible through the NEH’s We the People challenge grant.
The World the Civil War Made, a groundbreaking conference on Reconstruction, served as the 2013 Brose Lectures. The conference brought fifteen leading scholars of the Civil War era to University Park to bring fresh insights to our study of Reconstruction. Marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of Eric Foner’s trailblazing work, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, the conference assessed a generation of Reconstruction scholarship inspired by Foner’s book and its emphasis on the revolutionary transformations of the post-war period. By wrestling with the concepts of revolutionary change and continuity, the conference provoked well-developed debates that challenged conventional understandings of Reconstruction and its legacy, while laying out pathways for future research.
Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winning historian Steven Hahn kicked off the conference with a keynote address that reconsidered the extent of change and the persistence of continuity occasioned by Reconstruction.
The conference participants’ revised and expanded papers subsequently appeared in The World the Civil War Made, edited by Gregory Downs and Kate Masur. The twelve essays collected in the volume explore how Reconstruction re-shaped politics and governance throughout the nation following the Civil War. The World the Civil War Made was published in September 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press as part of The Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Book Series.