American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Apply Now — June-July 2021 NEH Summer Institute, Visual Culture of the American Civil War and Its Aftermath

Published November 20, 2020

This July, the American Social History Project will once again host an NEH Summer Institute for college and university faculty on the Visual Culture of the American Civil War and Its Aftermath. The institute will be a ten-day remote program taking place between June 28 and July 14, 2021.

Postponed this year due to Covid-19, the fifth iteration of our institute will focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction era's array of visual media--including prints, photographs, cartoons, illustrated newspapers and magazines, maps, ephemera, monuments, and the fine arts. The institute will examine how information and opinion about the war and its aftermath was recorded and disseminated, and the ways visual media expressed and shaped Americans' understanding, North and South, free and enslaved. Due to continuing restrictions regarding face-to-face meetings, this will be a remote institute in which participants will view lectures by and interact with noted historians, art historians, and archivists. In addition, they will participate in new “behind the scenes” virtual sessions with curators and staff in major museums and archives. A team of three institute faculty that represents the range of work in the field will introduce participants to the rich body of new scholarship that addresses or incorporates Civil War and postwar visual culture, prompt them via individual remote conferences to do further research, and help them to use visual evidence to enhance their scholarship and teaching. Reading assignments preceding and during the institute will prepare participants for full engagement in discussions and activities.

The institute will meet over ten days between June 28 and July 14, 2021. Faculty and visiting speakers include: Jermaine Archer, Amanda Bellows, Louise Bernard,  Joshua Brown, Sarah Burns, Gregory Downs, Matthew Fox-Amato, Amanda Frisken, Lauren Hewes, Dominique Jean-Louis, Barbara Krauthamer, Allison Lange, Turkiya Lowe, Maurie McInnis, Susan Schulten, Scott Manning Stevens, and Dell Upton.

While scholars and teachers specializing in U.S. history, American studies, and art history will find the institute especially attractive, we encourage applicants from any field who are interested in the Civil War and Reconstruction era and its visual culture, regardless of your disciplinary interests. Independent scholars, scholars engaged in museum work or full-time graduate studies are also urged to apply. You need not have extensive prior knowledge of the Civil War, Reconstruction or visual culture or have previously incorporated their study in any of your courses or research. However, your application essay should identify specific ways in which a ten day concentration on the topics will enhance your teaching and/or research. In addition, please describe a research or teaching project you will develop during the institute. The ideal institute participant will bring to the group a fresh understanding of the relevance of the topic to their teaching and research.

Completed applications must be submitted via our online application system or e-mail no later than March 1, 2021. Applications sent via postal mail will not be accepted.

Full details and application information are available on the ASHP/CML Institute website. For further information, please contact Institute Director Donna Thompson Ray at

Thanks to a supplementary NEH grant, many of the institute’s resources and activities are available online on The Visual Culture of the American Civil War website. The site, which currently includes sessions from our past institutes, features video lectures and related picture galleries, primary documents, and print and multimedia bibliographies.

Image: Currier & Ives. The first colored senator and representatives - in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States. United States, 1872. New York: Published by Currier & Ives. Photograph.

Latest ASHP NewsCivil War Summer Institutes