In all of its programs, the Workshop is most interested in those aspects common to all armed conflict: military, cultural, and intellectual mobilization; the use, technology, and justification of violence; the psychological impacts on soldiers, their families, and their societies; the competition for resources; atrocities; the creation of enemy images and propaganda; the defense of ideologies; the political construction of "victory" and "defeat"; demographic and intellectual dislocations; the cultural processes of homecoming, memory-making, commemoration, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
The Cobb Forum: UnCivil Wars
In conjunction with the History Department, the T.R.R. Cobb House, and the Watson-Brown Foundation, the Workshop co-sponsors "UnCivil Wars," an annual conference devoted to the Civil War Era. Senior and Junior Scholars meet in the fall of the odd years; graduate students meet in the fall of the even years. The theme for 2009 was "Weirding the War" -- a "Freakonomics" approach to the Civil War. In 2010, the theme was "Aftermath" -- a study of post-Civil War America in comparative perspective with other war-torn regions throughout human history. In 2011, the conference is devoted to "The Blue, the Gray, and the Green: Toward an Environmental History of the Civil War."
In conjunction with other entities on- and off-campus, the Workshop brings in one leading scholar per semester to discuss the role and consequences of armed conflict and mass political violence in human history. In 2010, the Workshop co-sponsored talks by Michael Fellman, Victoria Bynum, and John Mayfield.
The WSW debuted its film series in March 2011 with a screening of Waltz With Bashir, an animated feature-length reflection on the 1982 Lebanon War. In April we aired The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara. Movie screenings are frequently accompanied by pizza and always followed by expert commentary from faculty members.
W&S Workshops give campus and local faculty and graduate students an opportunity to get constructive criticism and feedback on their research and writing. Meeting in the afternoons over pizza or in the late afternoons with an eye for the restaurants and bars downtown afterwards, each workshop takes a single piece of writing-in-progress and puts it under the common knife.
The Workshop hopes in the near future to partner with other entities on campus to sponsor tours of local battlefields and an annual film series devoted to watching (and analyzing) popular and classic war movies. More information coming soon!
Clemson University historian Paul Anderson led a day-long writer's retreat for graduate students at the T.R.R. Cobb House in Athens. A former journalist, Anderson is the author most-recently of Blood Image: Turner Ashby in the Civil War and the Southern Mind. The retreat was co-sponsored by Georgia Writers' Bloc, a group of history department graduate students who are interested "in exploring our roles as writers and authors within (and extending beyond) the discipline of history. We meet not only to improve the line-by-line quality of our writing, but also to trace and push against the boundaries of the history genre."
On February 24, 2011, the WSW co-sponsored with the Art School a talk by Duke University historian Peter Wood on his most recent book Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer's Civil War. Discovered in an attic in the 1960s, the painting reveals Homer's deep sympathies for the enslaved. "Peter Wood is one of the most curious, original, and rewarding historians of our time and in Near Andersonville all his talents are on full display," notes Harvard historian John Staufer in his review. "Part detective story, part history, and part art criticism, this book is a masterpiece."
On November 12, 2010, the Workshop co-sponsored with the Geography Department and others, "Night Comes to Juarez," a talk by Sarah Hill, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Western Michigan University. Dr. Hill is a specialist in the study of garbage and recycling and is currently at work on: "The Most Amazing Dump in the World," a history of waste management and recycling in Ciudad Juárez. Ciudad Juáerz makes as many if not more goods for American consumers than any other city in North America. It is also the most violent city in the world -- with a killing rate that surpasses cities in countries at war with foreign enemies.
Historian Victoria Bynum joined us as our Gregory Guest Lecturer, October 18-23, 2010. During her stay, she discussed her newest book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (UNC Press, 2010). Dr. Bynum blogs at Renegade South: Histories of Unconventional Southerners, and, indeed, all her work focuses on Southerners misbehavin', from the women who did not act like ladies (Unruly Women, 1992), to Southerners who crossed the color line (Free State of Jones, 2002), to her latest work on Southerners who resisted the Confederacy.
The W&S Workshop sponsored the Second Annual UnCivil Wars Conference, October 22-23, at the T.R.R. Cobb House in Athens, Georgia. Devoted to "Aftermath: War and Its Consequences," the conference brought a diverse array of graduate students of different disciplines and time periods into a productive dialogue that yielded fresh comparative perspectives and insights. The closing address was delivered by John Mayfield, author of Counterfeit Gentlemen: Manhood and Humor in the Old South (UFP, 2009). Click here for the program.
Dr. Judkin Browning joined us in LeConte 102 on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 3:00p for a roundtable discussion of a chapter of his new book, Wearing the Mask of Nationality Lightly: The Effects of Union Military Occupation during the Civil War. An Assistant Professor of History at Appalachian State, Dr. Browning is also the editor of The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865 (UPF, 2009), which Richard M. Reid (University of Guelph) applauds for offering "a rare glimpse into the mind of an ardent Confederate sympathizer living under Union control."
Historian Gavin James Campbell was on campus Friday, August 27, 2010 to talk to graduate students and workshop a part of his latest project -- a dual biography of Niijima Jo (a samurai who traveled from Meiji Japan to the immediate post-Civil War United States to learn the secret of western military capitalism) and Lafcadio Hearn (an American who traveled to Meiji Japan to find an antidote to western pugnacity and alienation). Dr. Campbell, a professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, is also the author of Music and the Making of a New South (UNC, 2003), which Benjamin Filene called a "lively and astute exploration of how southerners coped with fundamental tension and how even their musical 'diversions' were fraught with meaning." (Journal of Southern History, May 2005). (Dr. Campbell's visit was co-sponsored by the Georgia Workshop in the Cultural History of Capitalism.)
On April 26-27, 2010, historian Michael Fellman (Simon Fraser University) spent a two-day residency in UGA's history department, meeting with graduate students and participating in discussions of two of his books: Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (Oxford, 1990) and In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History (Yale, 2010). Professor Fellman's talk, "John Brown: Terrorism in a Slave Society," focused on Brown's ingenious self-transformation from terrorist to martyr during his trial. Dr. Fellman also participated in a panel discussion, "The United States of Terror: Three Centuries of World Experience with State-Sponsored Terrorism."