American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

July 2018—NEH Summer Institute on the Visual Culture of the Civil War and Its Aftermath

Published December 18, 2017

Next July, the American Social History Project will once again host a two-week NEH Summer Institute for college and university faculty on the Visual Culture of the American Civil War and Its Aftermath. 

The fourth iteration of our institute will focus on the Civil War era's array of visual media--including prints, photographs, cartoons, illustrated newspapers and magazines, maps, ephemera, and the fine arts—to examine how information and opinion about the war were recorded and disseminated, and the ways visual media expressed and shaped Americans' understanding, North and South, free and enslaved. Guided by a team of three faculty that represents the range of work in the field, institute participants will hear daily lectures and presentations by noted historians, art historians, and archivists, and take part in hands-on sessions in major New York museums and archival collections. These institute activities will introduce participants to the rich body of scholarship that addresses or incorporates Civil War-era visual culture, encourage them to explore avenues for further research in the field, and assist them in developing their own research and/or teaching projects. Reading assignments preceding and during the institute will prepare participants for full engagement in discussions and activities. And time will be provided to prepare individual projects, undertake research in local archives, and meet with the three principal institute faculty members as well as guest speakers.

The institute will meet from July 9 to July 20, 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center (34th Street and Fifth Avenue) and other archival and museum sites around the city, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York Historical Society, and New York Public Library. Faculty and visiting speakers include: Jermaine Archer, Lynne Zacek Bassett, Amanda Bellows, Louise Bernard, Joshua Brown, Sarah Burns, Keith Davis, Gregory Downs, Matthew Fox-Amato, Amanda Frisken, Lauren Hewes, Barbara Krauthamer, Turkiya Lowe, Maurie McInnis, Megan Kate Nelson, Kirk Savage, Susan Schulten, and Scott Manning Stevens.

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 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 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 two weeks of 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 or postal mail no later than March 1, 2018 (postal mail must be postmarked by March 1).

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

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 2012 and 2014 institutes, and soon the 2016 institute, features video lectures and related picture galleries, primary documents, and print and multimedia bibliographies.

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