This Thursday through Sunday (August 8-11) Bowdoin is hosting “The Afterlife of the American Civil War,” an Alumni College weekend filled with hands-on studies of culture, music, art and poetry in honor of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
Bowdoin has a plethora of connections to the Civil War through eminent alumni, faculty, and other historical figures associated with the college—including Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (class of 1852), Oliver Otis Howard (class of 1850), William Pitt Fessenden (class of 1823), and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who began writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin while her husband was a Bowdoin professor.
This year’s Alumni College focuses on Bowdoin’s involvement in the post-war years. The public is invited to attend the keynote lecture delivered by Nina Silber, professor of history at Boston University, who will speak about the the continued relevance of the political, social, and economic issues that tore the nation apart in 1861. The lecture starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 9, in Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center. Silber has worked as a consultant for the Gettysburg National Battlefield, the United States Constitution Museum, and the “American Experience” television series, and has written several books on the Civil War.
“Participants will have the opportunity to work with scholars from multiple disciplines to talk and think about the role the Civil War plays in contemporary political and cultural life,” said Faculty Director of the Alumni College (and Associate Professor of Africana Studies and English) Tess Chakkalakal. “I am particularly pleased that alongside members of the Bowdoin faculty and staff, alumni Martha Hodes (’80) and Dave Thomson (’08) will be able to join us to discuss their current projects on Abraham Lincoln and Oliver Otis Howard.”
The weekend is packed with workshops, lectures, and discussions for the 61 alums who are returning to campus for the occasion. Organized in coordination with the Pejepscot Historical Society’s Chamberlain Days, the series of events will span not only the campus but also the town of Brunswick. Activities on deck range from discussions of Civil War-inspired literature to a lesson in creating Civil War-era photographs to a walking tour of Bowdoin’s Civil War history.