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Class builds on lecture series focused on Civil War, on its 150th anniversary

September 3, 2013

In recognizing the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Beloit College’s history department is offering a lecture series and class that focus on this seminal part of American history.

The first in the series of three lectures (all free, and open to the public) is taking place Wednesday at 7 p.m.  in Richardson Auditorium. “Spielberg’s Lincoln and the Roots of Reconstruction, will be presented by Kate Masur, an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

“A class offers students the opportunity to understand a lecture more profoundly by preparing for it beforehand and analyzing it afterward,” says Beatrice McKenzie, the history professor teaching the current half-unit course History of the U.S. Civil War, in conjunction with the upcoming lecture series. “For example, Professor Kate Masur will critique the Spielberg film, Lincoln, in her lecture on Wednesday. In class, students have already been introduced to the historiographic debate Masur is part of, and they have seen the film, critiqued it in writing, and discussed it prior to the lecture. That will provide them a richer understanding both of the history and of Masur’s take on it.”

Masur’s research focuses on how Americans came to grips with the end of slavery, both during the Civil War and after. She is the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (2010) and two award-winning articles on race, culture and politics during the Civil War. Her writing has also appeared in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Above all, McKenzie wants the lectures to leave an impression—that this moment in time had a long-lasting effect.

“I hope Beloiters understand better the war’s lasting impact on veterans, freed people, and other citizens,” she says.  

The following lectures will take place later this month:

  • “More Than Freedom: Black Northerners and the Meaning of the Civil War” by Stephen Kantrowitz, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the relationship between race and citizenship in the era of emancipation is the topic of Kantrowitz’s research. Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.
  • “A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War” by Lesley Gordon, professor of history at the University of Akron; Gordon teaches courses in the Civil War and Reconstruction, U.S. military history, and the Early Republic. Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.

The lecture series is supported by the Richardson Lecture Fund, named in honor of former History Professor Robert “Dickie” Richardson, and the Mellon Foundation Labs Across the Curriculum grant.