Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Cultural Life During Wartime 1861–1865

Images from the Ransom Center's Parnassus Preserved and Theater Biography Collections.

Download the symposium flyer

The Harry Ransom Center presents

Cultural Life During Wartime, 1861–1865

the eleventh biennial Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium

September 18-20, 2014

During the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, the Harry Ransom Center's exhibition The Making of Gone With The Wind will tell the compelling and controversial story of the production of David O. Selznick's 1939 film. In the 75 years since its release, Gone With The Wind and the novel that inspired it have helped shape the way many Americans understand and remember the Civil War. This is in keeping with a broader trend: Twentieth-century depictions of the war have become so powerful and pervasive that they have obscured the representations of artists and writers who lived through the war itself.

For its eleventh biennial Flair Symposium, the Ransom Center will look back to the nineteenth century to examine the cultural world of Union and Confederate painters, photographers, musicians, theater companies, and writers. The songs, images, poems, books, and plays that appeared between 1861 and 1865 offer a nuanced perspective on the Civil War that challenges later narratives, both fictional and historical.

Historians, literary critics, musicologists, and art historians will gather in Austin to discuss the works of well-known figures such as Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott and Frederick Douglass, as well as works related to Rose's War, an 1865 slave insurrection, and the 1864 Siege of Atlanta. Panelists will also reflect on the expanding Civil War canon and the legacy of the war's cultural productions.

Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair of Photography & Imaging at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, will deliver the keynote address, which is co-sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies.


The Flair Symposium, held biennially at the Ransom Center, honors the ideals set forth by Fleur Cowles and her landmark Flair magazine.

The Flair Symposium is generously supported by the Fleur Cowles Endowment Fund. The Ransom Center gratefully acknowledges additional support for Cultural Life During Wartime, 1861–1865, from its co-sponsors at The University of Texas at Austin:

John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies
Department of English
Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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