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News Release — April 21, 2014

Ransom Center Symposium to Explore American Cultural Life During Civil War

The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, announces the 11th Flair Symposium, "Cultural Life During Wartime, 1861–1865" to take place Sept. 18–20.

The symposium is organized in conjunction with the Ransom Center's upcoming fall exhibition, "The Making of 'Gone With The Wind,'" which opens Sept. 9. In the 75 years since the film's release, "Gone With The Wind" and the novel that inspired it have helped shape the way many Americans understand and remember the Civil War.

The symposium looks back to the 19th 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 at The University of Texas at Austin.

The exhibition "The Making of 'Gone With The Wind'" is drawn from the film producer David O. Selznick's archive—the largest collection at the Ransom Center—and tells the compelling and controversial story of the production of the 1939 film. The film's depictions of race, violence and cultural identity in the South during the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction continue to both compel and trouble audiences around the world. The exhibition will reveal surprising stories about the making of this quintessential film from Hollywood's Golden Age and illustrate why it remains influential and controversial 75 years after it was released.

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

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Alyssa Morris
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