“Playing at War:” A Pre-AHA 2022 Recorded Roundtable Conversation

“Playing at War:” A Pre-AHA 2022 Recorded Roundtable Conversation

Editor’s note: As part of the SCWH Outreach Committee’s effort to promote the work of early career scholars, this pre-AHA 2022 recorded roundtable showcases four contributing authors and two co-editors from the forthcoming edited collection, Playing at War: Identity & Memory in American Civil War Video Games (LSU Press).

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This recorded roundtable conversation convenes the co-editors and four contributing authors from the forthcoming edited collection, Playing at War: Identity & Memory in American Civil War Video Games (LSU Press), that analyzes the varied ways in which American Civil War-themed video games depict conceptions of American identity and historical memory. In an online roundtable discussion the editors and authors explore how their respective chapters and the overall volume contextualize the creation, reception, and evolution of video games and their content in relation to prevailing, competing, and evolving historical memories of the Civil War era in popular culture. Dr. Katherine Brackett delineates how Civil War era video game manuals tend to disregard current historiography to perpetuate vintage myths and understandings of that era in an often-deliberate appeal to the prevailing cultural identity and historical memory of the typical white, male Civil War gamer. Dr. Jonathan S. Jones discusses how Red Dead Redemption 2, a story of violence in the American West, sends an anti-racist message for players to learn about and reject Lost Cause and neo-Confederate ideologies, a timely message into today’s political context. Aaron Phillips explores how Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood (2009) engages the dynamic relationship between irregular violence in the American West and the legacies of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Dr. Kathleen Logothetis Thompson expounds upon the relationship between video game design, research accuracy, and compelling gameplay. Collectively, these four authors, in conversation with editors Patrick A. Lewis and James “Trae” Welborn, demonstrate the complex relationship between Civil War Era video games and shifting conceptions of martial identity and historical memory within American popular culture. In so doing the roundtable charges historians working outside historical game studies to engage more deeply and directly with video games as an important cultural medium in modern American society.

Moderators:

  • Dr. James “Trae” Welborn III, Associate Professor of History, Georgia College & State University
  • Dr. Patrick A. Lewis, Director of Collections & Research, Filson Historical Society

Panelists:

  • Dr. Katherine Brackett, Research Assistant Professor, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Dr. Jonathan S. Jones, Assistant Professor of History, Virginia Military Institute
  • Aaron Phillips, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Alabama
  • Dr. Kathleen Logothetis Thompson, Independent Scholar & Adjunct Instructor of History, Pierpont Community and Technical College (Fairmont, WV).

See the full conversation here.

Hilary N. Green

Hilary N. Green is an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama. She earned her M.A. in History from Tufts University in 2003, and Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. Her research and teaching interests include the intersections of race, class, and gender in African American history, the American Civil War, Reconstruction, as well as Civil War memory, African American education, and the Black Atlantic. She is the author of Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890 (Fordham, 2016).

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