American History Seminar

About the Seminar

The Civil War in AmericAn Memory

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is pleased to announce a multidisciplinary seminar for full-time faculty members in history and related fields on “The Civil War in American Memory.” The seminar will be of particular interest to faculty members who may be called upon as resources and experts when questions arise over what should be done with controversial historical statues and markers on their campuses and in their communities. The seminar, cosponsored by CIC and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, will be held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. There is no fee to participate. Room, board, and books will be covered, along with a portion of travel expenses, thanks to a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This seminar will assess the historical memory of the most divisive event in American history—the Civil War. Seminar participants will consider secondary works on Civil War memory, discuss theoretical texts on the nature and significance of collective memory across time and cultures, and dive deeply into three anniversary moments in this history of the memories: the 50th (1911–1915); the 100th (1961–1965); and the 150th (2011–2015). The seminar also will consider the recent and current crises and debates over Civil War monuments and symbols from the 2015 massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, to the recent protests and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and beyond. Readings will include works of history and primary documents. Above all, the seminar aims to provide a forum in which to comprehend and analyze why the slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction epoch has remained an unending dilemma in American historical consciousness.

The seminar is made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Faculty Seminar Report

CIC's Faculty Seminars: Promoting Professional Growth

By Thomas Falkner
February 2019

Faculty Seminar report coverCIC recently asked Thomas Falkner, an experienced evaluator of CIC’s programs and the former provost of McDaniel College, to take an in-depth look at one seminar, “The Civil War in American Memory,” that took place at Yale University in June 2018 and was led by David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. Falkner’s report demonstrates that a relatively small amount of money can significantly strengthen faculty development and enhance teaching, especially when faculty members’ dedication both to their students and to their fields of expertise is unwavering.

PDFDownload the report on CIC’s Faculty Seminars: Promoting Professional Growth.

Seminar Leader

David W. Blight headshotDavid W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. Blight is the author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, which received numerous awards including the Bancroft Prize, the Frederick Douglass Prize, and the Merle Curti Prize; American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, which received the Anisfield-Wolf award for best nonfiction book on racism and human diversity; and A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation. His other books include Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War; Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee; and the edited volumes, When This Cruel War Is Over: The Civil War Letters of Charles Harvey Brewster; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. DuBois. Blight was elected a member of the Society of American Historians in 2002. Since 2004, he has served as a member of the board of trustees of the New-York Historical Society. He also has served on the board for African American Programs at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. Blight was on the board of advisors to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was involved in planning numerous events to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. He has led or co-led many seminars for CIC faculty members on slave narratives and the scholarship and public history of slavery.

Current Status

A total of 25 participants were selected by competitive nomination.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status

A total of 25 participants were selected by competitive nomination.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Nomination Information

Up to 25 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. All full-time faculty members in history and related fields at CIC member institutions are eligible. A faculty member who wishes to participate must be nominated by the chief academic officer of the nominee’s institution. Each institution may nominate more than one individual, and faculty members of any academic rank may be nominated. The nomination deadline is January 14, 2019.

Selection of participants will be announced by February 15, 2019.

To submit a nomination online, please refer to the brochure and nomination form:

Location and Expenses

The seminar will take place at Yale University and housing will be provided on campus. Room, board, and books will be covered by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Participants or their institutions will be expected to provide transportation to and from New Haven, although CIC will provide participants with a stipend of up to $300 to be used toward travel-related expenses.

Contact Information

​Questions regarding the seminar on American history should be directed to Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at or (202) 466-7230.