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A Fire Never Extinguished: How the Civil War Continues to Shape Civic and Cultural Life in America

October 24, 2014 | By Federal/State Partnership Staff

Every week since October 15, 2010, the Vermont Humanities Council has emailed subscribers The Civil War Book of Days, an account of events in the Civil War 150 years ago that week. All issues are collected online. As of this date, they number 211. With the Civil War Book of Days, the Vermont Humanities Council seeks to tell "what may be  America’s greatest story— the Civil War— in new, personal, and compelling ways that promote greater and deeper understanding for all. The story is both inspiring and heartbreaking."

Each year the VHC holds an annual fall conference which, this year, is about the long-lasting effects of the Civil War on American life. This two-day conference, "A Fire Never Extinguished: How the Civil War Continues to Shape Civic and Cultural Life in America," will take place at the University of Vermont, November 15-16, 2014. Presented in collaboration with the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, it explores the influence that the War had and continues to have on literature, visual art, race, memory, and politics. Although the sesquicentennial of the Civil War ends in five months, the presentations and discussions at the conference, "will seek to identify lessons vital to American democracy that still can be learned from the War and its aftermath."

The conference schedule includes plenaries that address the topics of "The Civil War in American Memory at 150: Legacies in Our Own Time" by Yale University's David Blight; "Cultivating Civility and Accounting For Race: American Culture in the Aftermath of The War Between the States" by Lois Brown of Wesleyan University; "The Civil War and the Transformation of American Culture and Literature" by Harvard's John Stauffer; and "How the Civil War Still Matters to American Art" by Smithsonian curator Eleanor Jones Harvey.

With funds provided by The Bay and Paul Foundations, the Vermont Humanities Council is able to offer full conference scholarships for 20 Vermont educators.

The Vermont Humanities Council has a variety of other programs about the Civil War. In addition to The Civil War Book of Days and this year's fall conference, the Council offers events, speakers, and reading and discussion programs. In addition, research kits can be downloaded to help find Civil War sites throughout Vermont. The website is filled with links to Civil War resources, including bibliography and photographic collections.