Civil War historian to speak at annual history lecture


Civil War historian Elizabeth R. Varon will speak on the Appomattox surrender at the 18th annual Carls-Schwerdferger History Lecture, Thursday, Oct. 2.

Varon will discuss “Reaping the Whirlwind: Disunion, Rhetoric and the Coming of the Civil War” at 1:40 p.m. in the Carl Grant Events center and “Legacies of Appomattox: Lee’s Surrender in History and Memory” at 7:15 p.m. in the G. M. Savage Memorial Chapel. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Varon is a professor of American history at the University of Virginia. Her specialties include the American South, the Civil War era, women’s gender history and intellectual and cultural history.

Varon will sell two of her books after her evening lecture. Her most recent book, “Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the War,” will be available in hardcover and “Disunion: The Coming of the American Civil War 1789 – 1895” will be available in paperback. Varon is the author of two additional books, various journal articles and the co-author of a fifth book.

The Carls-Schwerdferger history lectures began after a visiting professor that was evaluating the department suggested they host small lectures in 1993.

The lectures began small, but in 1997, the first official Carls-Schwerdferger lecture was held. The department hosted Jack Green, John’s Hopkins 18th century American history specialist.

“[The lectures] give people an opportunity to come into contact with someone you oftentimes read about in newspapers and journals but you never get to see them face to face,” said Stephen Carls, university professor of history and department chair. “It’s an opportunity to meet a prominent historian in person. There is something different about actually seeing the person face to face. It heightens the experience.”

The Carls-Schwerdferger lectures have continually brought award winning, prominent scholars to speak at Union, including three Pulitzer Prize winners. Other notable speakers include Edward Ayers, winner of the Carnegie Foundation U.S Professor of the year award in 2003 and Pauline Maier, president of the Society of American Historians and 2011 recipient for the George Washington Book Prize.

The topics of the lectures vary, and oftentimes correlate with anniversaries of historical events, such as the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War in 2015.

Lectures are planned almost a year in advance to guarantee a speaker’s time. The lecture for next year has not been planned yet, but there is a list of possible candidates.

Image courtesy of Submitted Photo
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Rebecca Morris is the managing editor for the Cardinal & Cream. She is a public relations major with a minor in photojournalism, class of 2015.