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EXI509: The Study of America's Civil War

This course provides students an opportunity to work on a multi-institutional digital archive project while studying the Civil War era.

This course provides students an opportunity to work on a multi-institutional digital archive project while studying the Civil War era. Partnering with the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, the National Parks Service (NPS), and the University of Georgia's College of Environment and Design, this class encourages students to conduct original archival research in primary sources while developing a robust understanding of the historical issues surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction. Preliminary work in the classroom will introduce students to the major debates and the most recent scholarship concerning the Secession Crisis through Reconstruction. Some fieldwork and archival research will take place during this time. Once a body of knowledge is gained, students will begin focusing their research on New England's Civil War dead buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery. The "Gettysburg in History and Memory: Soldiers Stories Digital History Project" will enable students to blend their interest in history and digital mediums while gaining theoretical knowledge about issues involved with the field of digital humanities. Working with teams of college students, professional historians, NPS rangers, and professionals in the field of digital humanities, course participants will help to develop an electronic archive detailing the impact the American Civil War had on communities whose members were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. The study will focus on the lives of soldiers in their localities prior to the war and the changes experienced by families in the aftermath of this destructive episode in America's past. Through this collaboration, students will have the opportunity to conduct research and deliberate the best documentary methods available to recreate the footsteps of fallen soldiers at Gettysburg and other historically relevant sites. In detailing this intimate social history and recreating it through the powerful medium of a digital archive, participants will encounter numerous challenges including: curatorial issues of public history, design thinking in representing the past, information retrieval, material culture, geographical considerations in shaping the past, textual evidence, and relationships between macro and micro data. Through this collegial endeavor, students will come to a greater appreciation of the historian's task in fairly and accurately representing the past through our present digital age. During PEA's spring break, students will have the opportunity to travel to historic sites, including Gettysburg and its Civil War Institute, to undertake fieldwork and conduct research in team settings for a week. (Cost of travel will be paid for by the Academy.) Students unable to go on this trip will work on a research project. Appropriate release time for travel/research will be given during the term. This course earns a credit from the history department but does not fulfill the U.S. or non-U.S. History requirement.