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Logo for the virtual book talkThe Virtual Book Talk showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes an informal presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience.

These talks are streamed live for registered participants and are recorded for posterity. All previous virtual book talks are available to view on the AAS YouTube channel. Talks typically last 45 minutes to one hour. For more information, contact Kevin Wisniewski, Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives at kwisniewski@mwa.org.

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Spectacle of Grief:
Public Funerals and Memory in the Civil War Era

with Sarah J. Purcell

Thursday, June 30, 2 pm EDT

Approx. 1 hour

Register

This virtual program is free but requires advanced registration. You will be sent an email with a Zoom link and instructions on how to join the program upon registration. Closed captioning is available as an option via Zoom’s live transcription

This illuminating book examines how the public funerals of major figures from the Civil War era shaped public memories of the war and allowed a diverse set of people to contribute to changing American national identities. These funerals featured lengthy processions that sometimes crossed multiple state lines, burial ceremonies open to the public, and other cultural productions of commemoration such as oration and song. As Sarah J. Purcell reveals, Americans’ participation in these funeral rites led to contemplation and contestation over the political and social meanings of the war and the roles played by the honored dead. Public mourning for military heroes, reformers, and politicians distilled political and social anxieties as the country coped with the aftermath of mass death and casualties.

Purcell shows how large-scale funerals for figures such as Henry Clay and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson set patterns for mourning culture and Civil War commemoration; after 1865, public funerals for figures such as Robert E. Lee, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Winnie Davis elaborated on these patterns and fostered public debate about the meanings of the war, Reconstruction, race, and gender.

Sarah J. Purcell is the L. F. Parker Professor of History at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. She is the author of Spectacle of Grief: Public Funerals and Memory in the Civil War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), Sealed with Blood: War Sacrifice and Memory in Revolutionary America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) and The Early American Republic: An Eyewitness History (Facts on File, 2004). She has co-authored several other books, including American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Perspective, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 2020), the first textbook that places U.S. history in a global context. Purcell is dedicated to fostering student research in history, digital humanities, and American studies, and she was the recipient of the 2019 award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences from the Council for Undergraduate Research.

Order this book directly from the publisher at https://www.uncpress.org/

Sarah Purcell


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