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The Visual Culture of the American Civil War

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“The Visual Culture of The American Civil War” is a two-week college and university faculty institute for thirty participants on the visual culture of the American Civil War.  Scholars associated with the American Social History Project at the City University of New York (ASHP-CUNY) lead this institute. Historical images—contemporary photographs, paintings, and ephemera (illustrated newspapers, political cartoons, sheet music covers, etc.) —are used to illuminate how the war was recorded and presented and how visual media expressed and shaped America’s understanding on both sides of the conflict.  Presenters in week one include historians Bruce Levine (University of Illinois, Urbana) on the study of visual culture; Martha Sandweiss (Princeton University) on photography; Alice Fahs (University of California, Irvine) on the visual landscape of the Civil War era; Joshua Brown (ASHP-CUNY) on illustrated newspapers as visual reportage; Peter H. Wood (Duke University) on selected wartime and Reconstruction paintings; and art historian Deborah Willis (New York University) on early images of African Americans.  In week two, historian Michael Sappol (National Library of Medicine) discusses Civil War medical images; independent scholar Robert Samuel West explores commentary through the political cartoon; historian Jeanie Attie (Long Island University) and graphic arts curator Georgia Barnhill (American Antiquarian Society) consider pictorial ephemera, and art historian Kirk Savage (University of Pittsburgh) discusses shaping the memory of the Civil War through late nineteenth-century public sculpture and monuments.   Readings include Louis P. Masur, The Civil War: A Concise History; Peter H. Wood, Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War; Alan Trachtenberg, Reading American Photographs: Matthew Brady to Walker Evans; and Deborah Willis, Picturing Us:  African American Identity in Photograph.


Dates: July 9-20 (2 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Location: New York, NY

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.