Reporting by ECW Correspondent Katie Tercek
There are but a handful of tickets left for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge (and that’s not just marketing hype, either—we’re nearing capacity!).
“This years theme is turning points of the American Civil War,” said Symposium co-organizer Dan Welch. “What were those pivotal moments that took the war and the war effort in a different direction? It’s a direct tie into Emerging Civil War’s publication efforts through Southern Illinois University Press.”
He’s referring, of course, to Turning Points of the American Civil War, part of ECW’s “Engaging the Civil War” Series with SIUP. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can order one in advance. Copies will also be for sale at the Symposium.
Ed Alexander, one of this year’s symposium speakers, will address the topic, “Grant Crosses the James.” Alexander explained that the speakers try to show more compelling presentations that are not just educational and interesting, but visually pleasing.
“More and more we are experimenting with different ways to incorporate multimedia into it,” he said. “Last year we did some Facebook LIVE broadcasts. I usually try and throw some animated maps in there that I create just to make the presentation a little bit more lively.”
Alexander added that some speakers incorporate PowerPoints, but not necessarily video. As for the Emerging Civil War’s digital presence, they are still working on expanding it.
“We do try and maintain an online presence. I think, the way we style our blog and use the ability on WordPress to have tags and labels, people are able to pretty much Google anything from the Civil War, and one of our articles will pop up on the first page or two on Google,” Alexander said.
Alexander explained Emerging Civil war has been trying to improve on sharing more with the general public by networking with different organizations, but continues to still focus on catering to the current audience.
“I think attendees appreciate it because a lot of the trend in civil research is doing more social history, and it’s probably for the best that historians are starting to look at those aspects, but at the end of the day people‘s interest in the Civil War started because they enjoyed learning about and visiting battle fields, and talking about leaders,” Alexander said. “You can’t just completely ignore the thing that got everyone interested in the subject. We have always kept that as a focus.”
On Friday, guest speaker, Bert Dunkerly will give an overview of presentation about turning points. Dunkerly is a NPS Historian for Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Aside from the “usual suspects,” Welch said, Dunkerly “will also highlight turning points that people don’t think may have been turning points.”
Also on Friday, keynote speaker Scott Hartwig, former supervisory historian at Gettysburg National Battlefield, will talk about the Antietam campaign as a turning point.
A Friday night panel will cover various topics related to the theme. Welch explained that the speakers are diverse content experts with different aspects, beliefs, and ideologies.
On Saturday, a whole day is dedicated to lectures on the theme’s subtopics. Seven speakers will share their perspectives on major turning points of the war. “Some of the topics are in the book, some are not,” said Welch. “We also have essays in the book written by some historians, but we’ll have other historians address those topics as part of the speakers line-up. We really wanted to mix things up and offer a lot of perspectives, which is one of the things ECW is always trying to do.”
Sunday, ECW’s Chris Mackowski will give a guided tour that focuses on the death of Stonewall Jackson, which was a turning point for the Confederate Army.
The symposium will be held on August 3-5, 2018. Tickets are on sale through the Emerging Civil War website. The admission price is $155.00 per ticket, which includes all the events, plus appetizers on Friday evening and lunch on Saturday. Order tickets here.