New Year Update

A Merry Christmas and and Happy New Year,  Image number:SIL7-189-01

Greetings all!

Some of you have probably noticed there hasn’t been much activity here lately. I’m sorry about that but other commitments have been piling up and I just haven’t had time to keep things humming along here on Civil War Pop. I already mentioned my new job (more about that below) but I also have two book contributions due over the next six month. One will stay a secret for now, but the other is a chapter for a textbook on Music and Warfare in American History.

Some folks think writing for textbooks is a drag and I can see their point, but I’m pretty excited about this one. The book subject is right in my wheelhouse and my chapter, on music in Civil War armies, is a topic I could talk about all day. I always enjoy writing for a popular audience, so the chance to write about this under-studied topic in a way that’s accessible to students is a welcome one.

My new job as Research Historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is busy but great, and I plan to writing a little more about my experiences as a public historian on this blog. After all, museums are “pop” too. As with my writing, there are a few things I’m doing that I can’t talk about yet. Suffice it to say, my first two months have been occupied with a variety of tasks that utilize different skills: planning and writing an exhibit, building an online exhibit out of an existing physical one, organizing an academic conference, and starting a recurring history discussion group.

The latter project is the furthest along and starts next week. It’s called the Illinois History Forum, an open program to learn about and discuss different aspects of Illinois’s history as we gear up for the state Bicentennial in 2018. We’ll meet at noon on the second Thursday every two months and each meeting has a central text (usually a book, but I’ve worked in an exhibit and film too) with a moderator who specializes in the topic. We’re starting with Lincoln on January 12, reading local historian Richard Hart’s book (co-written with Bonnie Paull), Lincoln’s Springfield Neighborhood. Dick himself is leading the discussion and I think it will be a good event. The book covers Lincoln’s social network here in Springfield, which should give everyone a good frame of reference. I’m facilitating each meeting and I’d love to see this series get big attendance and foster some really good discussions. This is the stuff I miss doing in the classroom and a presidential library is an ideal setting for this sort of interactive program.

Anyway, with all this going on the blog will be a little more sparse for a while. It’s not like I haven’t had ideas. I mean, we just elected a president who practically embodies the importance of popular culture in history. But, to paraphrase Khan Noonian Singh: time is a luxury I don’t have.

kirstie alley

Hope everyone has a great 2017 and I’ll be back with more Civil War Pop before too long.

Additional Dispatches:

  • My brother bought me Ultimate General: Civil War for Christmas. It’s only early-access, so I’m not going to post a review until the game is complete, but I already have lots of opinions. Curious to find out what others think about it.
  • I’m not going to do a “Top 10 Most Popular Posts” piece this year in part because the overwhelming favorite was Free State of Jones and Historical Accuracy. This was my discussion of director Gary Ross’s extreme efforts to make Free State of Jones historically authentic and it went a little viral, thanks mostly to author Vicki Bynum. Ultimately, I thought his efforts were good for the film, but others disagreed.
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