Taught by the Best: Penn Professor Stephanie McCurry to Lead Summer Seminar for Civil War History Teachers

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@upenn.edu | 215-898-6460June 25, 2012

A group of K-12 teachers, library educators and National Park Service interpreters are headed to the University of Pennsylvania this summer to study the Civil War with one of the conflict’s foremost historians.

The 30 educators will attend a seminar on “Gender, Race and Nation in the Civil War Era,” led by Stephanie McCurry July 22-28.  They won the chance to participate in the seminar in a competition sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York.   

McCurry is a specialist in 19th-century American history, with a focus on the American South and the Civil War era.  She is the author of two books, including Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, published in 2010.  It won numerous awards and was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for History.

McCurry’s seminar will focus on the nation’s social and political transformation in the Civil War era and on the way a war of unprecedented scope reconfigured the United States and remade the terms of political membership in it. 

In interviews and speaking engagements across the country, McCurry has called the Civil War "a crucial political moment for the country" and has called attention to the way in which women “become a force to be reckoned with in the Confederacy.”

Starting with the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case in 1857 and ending with the constitutional amendments of the postwar period, seminar participants will take up the key events and developments in the Union and the Confederacy, secession, the destruction of slavery, African-American enlistment and popular politics in the North and South.

In addition to seminar lectures and discussions, participants will view historical and primary-source documents from the Institute’s Gilder Lehrman Collection, which features more than 60,000 historical documents. They’ll also take a walking tour of Philadelphia and learn about the hsitory of the city in the Civil War.

McCurry teaches a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in American, Southern and women's history and on the comparative history of slavery and emancipation.