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Nation's Leading Historians to Headline OU "Teach-In on the Civil War"

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Nation's Leading Historians to Headline OU "Teach-In on the Civil War"



CONTACT: OU Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701

NORMAN – Award-winning historians Ed Ayers and John Wilmerding will headline the University of Oklahoma’s “Teach-In on the Civil War,” which is open to the public, on OU’s Norman campus on Monday, March 10. They will be joined by four additional leading historians who will share their perspectives on this era in American history during the daylong events. 

“The day long Teach-In will give members of the OU family and supporters of the university a chance to hear from some of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful writers and historians about the period and events of the Civil War,” said OU President David L. Boren. “It is a rare chance to learn about the history which has shaped us as a people.”

Ayers, who will speak at dinner on the topic of “Where Did Freedom Come From?,” is one of the nation’s leading scholars on the history of the American South. He has authored or edited more than 10 books, including The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize and named the best book on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South.

He is also the president of the University of Richmond. In addition to his administrative responsibilities and scholarly pursuits, Ayers also remains active as a teacher. For his outstanding work in the classroom, Ayers was named the 2003 National Professor of the Year for Research and Doctoral Universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Support and Advancement of Education (CASE). He also received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in 1991 and was named the 2002 recipient of the James Harvey Robinson Prize for Outstanding Aid to Teaching History by the American Historical Association.

Wilmerding will speak at the luncheon on “Visualizing the Civil War: Three American Artists.” Over the course of his career, Wilmerding has become one of the most widely known and respected authorities on American art. He has authored several books on various artists and their portrayal of historical moments in American history, including Fitz Henry Lane, John F. Peto, Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. He is also a member of the American Philosophical Society and also serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Wilmerding is a professor of American art at Princeton University.

**The Teach-In will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St., with the first talk, “The Seductiveness of Turning Points: How Important was Gettysburg?” by Gary Gallagher, who has authored or edited more than 30 books, including The Confederate War, Lee and His Generals in War and Memory and The Union War, as well as Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty and Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War. He is a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

The next session will be held in the same location, at 10:30 a.m. on the subject of “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural,” by Ronald White, author of the New York Times bestseller A. Lincoln: A Biography, as well as Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural and The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln through His Words. White has lectured at the White House and has been interviewed on the PBS “News Hour.” He is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The noon luncheon address, “Visualizing the Civil War: Three American Artists,” will be presented by Wilmerding in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom of Oklahoma Memorial Union, 900 Asp Ave. 

The afternoon sessions, which will be in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in Catlett Music Center, will begin at 2 p.m. and feature Joan Waugh, a historian specializing in the Civil War, Reconstruction and Gilded Age eras, who will speak on “U. S. Grant at the Civil War Sesquicentennial.” Waugh has written books, including U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth and Civil War and Reconstruction, 1856 to 1859, as well as The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture and Wars Within A War: Controversy and Conflict Over the American Civil War. She is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The following session will be held in the same location at 3 p.m. talk on “Lincoln’s Four Roads to Emancipation” by Allen Guelzo, author of the New York Times bestseller Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, as well as Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America and Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. He is also the director of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College.

A panel discussion moderated by Kyle Harper, director of OU’s Institute for American Constitutional Heritage and recipient of the James Henry Breasted Prize, will be held at 4 p.m. in the same location and will feature all of the day’s speakers, including Wilmerding and Ayers.

The event will conclude with a dinner in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom of Oklahoma Memorial Union featuring an address by Ayers on “Where Did Freedom Come From?”

Reservations are required for the lunch and dinner sessions.  For more information and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Office of Public Affairs at (405) 325-3784 or email For information regarding the Teach-In and a complete schedule of events, please visit the website at

**The 9:30 a.m. session has been changed to now include Vernon Burton, a prolific author and scholar from Clemson University, who has authored or edited 20 books and more than 200 articles. His topic will be "From the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address to the March on Washington." 

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