GCC's Announces the Spring 2013 Civil War Lecture Series

GCC's Notable Civil War Initiative Continues

Batavia, NY- Genesee Community College will continue hosting its free lecture series on the history of the Civil War this coming spring, which is led by Derek Maxfield, a GCC history instructor and historian-in-residence. The three part lecture series will run on Wednesday’s at 7 p.m. at the Batavia Campus, specifically February 6, March 6 and April 3, 2013. All lectures are free and open to the public and pre-registration for each lecture is encouraged by contacting The BEST Center at 585-345-6868.

The first lecture on February 6 will be “Civil War Prisons in American Memory,” led by Dr. Benjamin Cloyd of Louisiana State University. The lecture focuses on how the memory of Civil War prisons has always been contested. Since 1861, generations of Americans struggled with the questions raised by the deaths of approximately 56,000 prisoners of war, almost one-tenth of all Civil War fatalities. During the war, throughout Reconstruction, and well into the twentieth century, a sectional debate raged over the responsibility for the prison casualties. Republican politicians invoked the savage cruelty of Confederate prisons, while hundreds of former prisoners published narratives that blamed various prison officials and promoted sectional bitterness. The animosity reflected a need to identify individuals responsible for the tragedy as well as the stakes involved—how history would remember the Union and Confederate prisons.

On March 6, GCC Professor Garth Swanson presents the “New York’s Forgotten War—The War of 1812 and the Making of the Empire State.” The War of 1812 remains a confusing and little remembered chapter in the history of the United States. New York, as a result of its extensive border with British-controlled Canada, was one of the primary fronts of the war and its residents experienced considerable hardship over the three years of the conflict. In addition, political divisions brought on by the war threatened to tear the state apart internally. Yet, New York quickly emerged from the war stronger and more economically vibrant than ever. In his talk, Professor Swanson will assess the role of New York in the conflict and evaluate the ways the war helped to create a modern New York state.

The third lecture on April 3 features “Myths and More at Gettysburg” with George McGaughney. No Civil War battlefield is more famous (at least in the north) than Gettysburg. To many, it is sacred ground that warrants many visits and careful study, and like any other historical landscape, it is prone to myths and legends. In this talk McGaughney will talk about the basis of those myths and the many discoveries he has made as a frequent visitor. His findings will surprise even the most knowledgeable Civil War buff.

There will be a fourth Civil War lecture in Batavia in May, and also a separate, three-part lecture series is scheduled at the Medina Campus Center. Exact details on these events are still in development.

In addition to the lecture series, a three-day Civil War encampment will take place at the Medina Campus Center from Friday, April 26 until Sunday, April 28. The encampment will include re-enactors in authentic soldier costumes setting up Union and Confederate camps and many other events and re-enactments throughout the weekend.

For further information on the Civil War and the initiative at GCC, check out the Civil War blog at http://civilwaratgcc.wordpress.com/.

For more information, contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email: dsutherland@genesee.edu.

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