2020-2021 Webinars

2020-2021 Webinars

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of conferences and public talks, the editors of the Journal of the Civil War Era organized a series of webinars with historians to discuss new books and research in Civil War era scholarship. The webinars are free, registration required, and the recordings are posted on the JCWE’s YouTube channel. Below you can find recordings of our past events.


May 12, 2021

Kevin Waite, West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire

From the press: When American slaveholders looked west in the mid-nineteenth century, they saw an empire unfolding before them. They pursued that vision through war, diplomacy, political patronage, and perhaps most effectively, the power of migration. By the eve of the Civil War, slaveholders and their allies had transformed the southwestern quarter of the nation–California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Utah–into an appendage of the South’s plantation states. Across this vast swath of the map, white southerners extended the institution of African American chattel slavery while also defending systems of Native American bondage. This surprising history uncovers the Old South in unexpected places, far west of the cotton fields and sugar plantations that exemplify the region.

Slaveholders’ western ambitions culminated in a coast-to-coast crisis of the Union. By 1861, the rebellion in the South inspired a series of separatist movements in the Far West. Even after the collapse of the Confederacy, the threads connecting South and West held, undermining the radical promise of Reconstruction.

April 14, 2021

Alaina E Roberts, I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land

From the press: Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of “40 acres and a mule”—the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I’ve Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from.

In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land that had been taken from others.

March 17, 2021

Kenneth Noe, The Howling Storm: Weather, Climate, and the American Civil War

From the press: In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the Civil War with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. Events such as floods and droughts affecting the Confederate home front constricted soldiers’ food supply, lowered morale, and undercut the government’s efforts to boost nationalist sentiment. By contrast, the superior equipment and open supply lines enjoyed by Union soldiers enabled them to cope successfully with the South’s extreme conditions and, ultimately, secure victory in 1865.

Taking into account  meteorological events, such as El Niño and La Niña, Noe rethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses. His work considers how soldiers and civilians dealt with floods and droughts that beset areas of the South in 1862, 1863, and 1864. In doing so, he addresses the foundational causes that forced Richmond to make difficult and sometimes disastrous decisions when prioritizing the feeding of the home front or the front lines.

February 11, 2021

Christopher Bonner, Remaking the Republic: Black Politics and the Creation of American Citizenship

Dr. Bonner’s book centers free black Americans in the legal transformations of the United States during the mid-nineteenth century. Black people from across the antebellum free states used citizenship in their public demands for rights and protections, and their political work helped spur and shape the development of citizen status. African American protest helped to make citizenship a legal status that connected individuals to the federal government through a bundle of rights and obligations. The book links antebellum black politics to Reconstruction-era constitutional developments and considers the ways black people grappled with the limits of formal legal change.

January 14, 2021

Natalie Ring and Sarah Gardner, The Lost Lectures of C. Vann Woodward

From the press: This collection presents two sets of lectures that Woodward delivered at mid-century, LSU’s Fleming Lectures in 1951 and Cornell’s Messenger Lectures in 1964 along with one lecture taken from Yale’s Storrs Lectures in 1969. These lectures reflect Woodward’s life-long interest in exploring the contours and limits of nineteenth-century liberalism. The editors draw on correspondence, Woodward’s personal notes, and unpublished essays to chronicle his failed attempts to finish a much-awaited comprehensive history of Reconstruction, which he saw as the natural outgrowth of the Messenger Lectures. The letdown involving the latter project is all the more significant given that he had come to imagine the book as a companion to the Origins of the New South, one of the most lasting pieces of scholarship in the field.

December 3, 2020

Dr. Alexandra J. Finley, An Intimate Economy: Enslaved Women, Work, and America’s Domestic Slave Trade

Alexandra Finley’s recently published An Intimate Economy adds crucial new dimensions to the boisterous debate over the relationship between slavery and capitalism by placing women’s labor at the center of the antebellum slave trade, focusing particularly on slave traders’ ability to profit from enslaved women’s domestic, reproductive, and sexual labor. She spoke with the JCWE editors about how women’s work was necessary to the functioning of the slave trade and its spread and how slavery reached into the most personal spaces of the household, the body, and the self.

October 30, 2020

Nineteenth-Century Governors’ Papers: A Roundtable

Nineteenth-century governors’ papers are a treasure-trove of everyday experiences because Americans of all backgrounds regularly contacted their governors with complaints and requests. This roundtable includes representatives for the Civil War Governors of Kentucky (CWGK), the Civil War & Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi (CWRGM), and the Civil War & Reconstruction Governors of Alabama (CWRGA) projects. They discussed the insights their collections offer historians and how the collections are challenging historiographical norms.

October 8, 2020

Dr. Aston Gonzalez, Visualizing Equality: African American Rights and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century

The fight for racial equality in the nineteenth century played out not only in marches and political conventions but also in the print and visual culture created and disseminated throughout the United States by African Americans. African American activists seized on advances in visual technologies–daguerreotypes, lithographs, cartes de visite, and steam printing presses–to produce images that advanced campaigns for black rights. Aston Gonzalez talked about how African American visual artists helped build the world they envisioned and how they employed networks of transatlantic patronage and travels to Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa to address the pressing concerns of Black people in the Atlantic world.

September 9, 2020

Dr. Scott Hancock: Civil War History: A Call to Action

The spring and summer of 2020 saw renewed protests against monuments and memorials to the Confederacy and its leaders. We believe historians can play an important role in the ongoing, broad-based conversation about the history and memory of the Civil War Era. Dr. Hancock joined us to discuss how historians can engage the public at national and state parks and other public history sites to demonstrate good history.

August 26, 2020

Dr. Tera Hunter: Emancipation During the Civil War 

This year, amid renewed discussion and celebration of Juneteenth, many people have questions about slavery’s destruction during the Civil War. Dr. Hunter spoke with the JCWE editors about how enslaved people fought for their own freedom and that of their families; the relationship of the Emancipation Proclamation to Juneteenth; why there were so many emancipations; and the importance of gender and the family in the experience of emancipation.

August 19, 2020

Dr. Thomas J. Brown: Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America 

The many Civil War monuments that dot the American landscape continue to incite controversy. Dr. Brown discussed who built these monuments and why; what Civil War monuments tell us about American culture; and how the monuments’ meanings have changed over time. His book, Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America (UNC Press, 2019), won the 2020 Tom Watson Brown Book Award.

August 13, 2020

Dr. Stephanie McCurry: The Confederate States of America 

What was the Confederacy and what did it stand for? These are important questions in both history classrooms and public debate. Dr. McCurry discussed what Confederate leaders believed they were doing when the seceded from the United States; the challenges they faced both internally and externally; the experiences of Black and white women in the Confederacy; and the role of women in the history of war.

July 23, 2020

Dr. Nicole Myers Turner, Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia

How did African Americans develop religious institutions in the wake of slavery? How did Black churches connect with electoral politics? Dr. Nicole Myers Turner joined us to talk about her highly original study, which used digital humanities methods to map and analyze Black peoples’ religious and political engagement in the Southside region of Virginia and uses . A digital version of her book, with enhanced maps and charts, is available here.