Civil War Institute 2014: Some Final Reflections

I’m still stoked from last week’s Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.  It’s truly an outstanding experience for a student of the Civil War.  Pete Carmichael and his team really outdo themselves each year.  The bring in the best scholars who give outstanding presentations.  The concurrent sessions and the breakout sessions are superb, and my only complaint is that I don’t get to see all of them.  The battlefield tours are first-rate.  Additionally, attendants get to interact with the historians on the faculty.  There is even a structured event set aside specifically for this.  This is called a dine-in.  Dine-ins are held during the dinner hour, and a group of attendees sit with a faculty member and they spend the time discussion a specific topic.  Once again, the big complaint I have is that I couldn’t attend them all.

Not only did we learn a lot during the five days of the symposium, but we heard from some up-and-coming young scholars in addition to established stars of the field.  We had the opportunity to acquire some of the latest scholarship through the Gettysburg College Bookstore.

Another benefit is making and renewing acquaintances and friendships among folks who have the same interest in learning about the Civil War.  There is also an opportunity to meet the future of Civil War History, as a number of high school students get to attend on scholarship, and young scholars in public history get to attend on scholarship as well.

With all the opportunities to discuss and ask questions, anyone who leaves this conference with any questions unanswered has only themselves to blame for not asking those questions.

This year’s CWI symposium was superb.  If you’re a serious student of the American Civil War, you definitely need to attend in the future.

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6 comments

  1. Mike Rogers · · Reply

    Al – I disagree with you, just a little, on your last thought. I think that folks who may not be as serious as you and I, but who are ready to move past Ken Burns, Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote, James McPherson beyond the narrative would find CWI instructional. That’s where I was three years ago and my understanding and curiosity has only been enhanced by CWI attendance. I do think that potential attendees need a basic understanding of the chronology, geography, and personalities of the era.

    1. The thing is, Mike, the price tag is fairly steep, so one has to have a serious commitment to attend.

  2. Mike Rogers · · Reply

    I see your point. Guess I wasn’t thinking about in those terms.

  3. Chuck Paris · · Reply

    Al: Did I miss your further thoughts on the “War of Empire” position that the Sand Creek author took?

    1. Not yet. I’ve finished his book and there will be a review and further discussion coming up.

      1. Chuck Paris · · Reply

        Thanks. I tried to query the author via his new blog but something didn’t work.

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