Maine Humanities Council

Let’s Talk About It Offerings for the Anniversaries of the
American Civil War and Emancipation

The 150th anniversaries of the Civil War and Emancipation are being commemorated around the country in a variety of ways, reawakening interest in the war and the many issues it raises. The Maine Humanities Council’s Let’s Talk About It program has four Civil War related series that interested Maine libraries can offer their communities over the next few years. Click here for an application as a PDF or as a Word document!

Three of these are existing series that have been popular in the past, and one is brand new.

NEW SERIES!

Making Sense of the Civil War

This new series is designed as a succession of five conversations exploring different facets of the Civil War experience, informed by reading the words written or spoken by powerful voices from the past and present. Each session will explore a different topic.

“Making Sense of the American Civil War” was created and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its We the People initiative, which promotes scholarship, teaching, and learning about American history and culture.

Session One: “Imagining War”
Readings:
  • March by Geraldine Brooks [2005]
  • Selections from America’s War anthology
Session Two: “Choosing Sides”
Readings:
  • Selections from America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on their 150th Anniversaries, a new anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers and published by NEH and ALA
Session Three: “Making Sense of War”
Readings:
  • Selections from America’s War anthology
Session Four: “The Shape of War”
Readings:
  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam by James M. McPherson
  • Selections from America’s War anthology
Session Five: “War and Freedom”
Readings:
  • Selections from America’s War anthology

 

Please note: Special funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities allows us to offer libraries all 5 sessions of the series.

OTHER SERIES OF INTEREST:

The Civil War: Fiction

Beginning with the best-selling novel that was said to be one of the causes of the conflict, this series of five novels brings the drama of the Civil War and its aftermath to life. It also reveals, through the insights of major authors, what the Civil War has meant to Americans.

Libraries hosting a full, facilitated series can select 4 of the following texts:

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Civil War: Biographies

This series has works of biography and autobiography that provide an in-depth, personal view of life during the Civil War era. The experience of these Americans—women and men, slave and free, Northern and Southern, famous and unsung—illustrate the close connection between individual lives and the larger events we call “history.”

Libraries hosting a full, facilitated series can select 4 of the following texts:

  • My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
  • With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Oates
  • Collected Black Women's Narratives ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy
  • Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate by Eli Evans
  • Portraits of American Women ed G.J. Barker-Benfield and Catherine Clinton

Rebirth of a Nation: Nationalism and the Civil War

“There is a habit of speaking derisively of going to war for an IDEA—an abstraction—something which you cannot see,” wrote a Southern editor in 1861. “This is precisely the point on which we would go to war. An idea is exactly the thing that we would fight for.”

By 1861 ideas about what America was and what it meant to be an American—the essence of nationality—had become elevated to the plain of irreconcilable principles. Civil war was the result. This series explores how America began to develop itself into into a nation-state.

Libraries hosting a full, facilitated series can select 4 of the following texts:

  • Two Roads to Sumter by William & Bruce Catton
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Ordeal by Fire, Volume II: The Civil War by James M. McPherson
  • Reconstruction: After the Civil War by John Hope Franklin
  • The Private Mary Chesnut: The Unpublished Civil War Diaries edited by C. Vann Woodward