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What Civil War Memoirs Can Teach Us Today with Professor Stephen Cushman

May 17, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Free – $15
Join Professor Steve Cushman as he illuminates how the memoirs of Civil War generals reveal about the writing of American history.

All alumni, parents, and friends are invited to the Virginia Club of New York for a talk discussing The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today by UVA English professor Stephen Cushman.

In December 1885, under the watchful eye of Mark Twain, the publishing firm of Charles L. Webster and Company released the first volume of the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. With a second volume published in March 1886, Grant’s memoirs became a popular sensation. Seeking to capitalize on Grant’s success and interest in earlier reminiscences by Joseph E. Johnston, William T. Sherman, and Richard Taylor, other Civil War generals such as George B. McClellan and Philip H. Sheridan soon followed suit. Some hewed more closely to Grant’s model than others, and their points of similarity and divergence left readers increasingly fascinated with the history and meaning of the nation’s great conflict. The writings also dovetailed with a rising desire to see the full sweep of American history chronicled, as its citizens looked to the start of a new century. Professional historians engaged with the memoirs as an important foundation for this work.

Professor Cushman will discuss these generals’ memoirs as both historical and literary works, revealing how they remain vital to understanding the interaction of memory, imagination, and the writing of American history. He will explain how market forces shaped the production of the memoirs and, therefore, memories of the war itself; how audiences have engaged with the works to create ideas of history that fit with time and circumstance; and what these texts tell us about current conflicts over the history and meanings of the Civil War.

About the Speaker: Stephen Cushman is the Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for forty years. He is the author of three Civil War history texts, as well as seven volumes of verse and two critical studies of American poetry. In 2014 he was named UVA Cavalier Distinguished Professor, and in 2015 he received a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award.

Admission is inclusive of networking receptions featuring beer, wine, and light snacks before and after the panel. There will also be time for questions after the talk. Virginia Club members may reserve a maximum of two tickets at the member rate (complimentary). Not a member yet? Join today!

Please note that the Virginia Club of New York has a no refunds policy, except when an attendee has contracted COVID or is a close contact of someone who has had COVID.


May 17, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Free – $15


Yale Club, Trumbull Room (18th Floor)
50 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, 10017 United States
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