Genesee Community College has finalized its four-part spring lecture series on the history of the Civil War. All are scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Batavia campus in Room T102. They are free and open to the public. Pre-registration for each lecture is encouraged by contacting The BEST Center at 345-6868
On Feb. 6 -- "Hanging Henry Wirz: Debating the Meaning of 'War Crimes' during the American Civil War" will be presented by Carole Emberton, assistant professor of History at the University of Buffalo.
Her presentation will explore how the concept of "war crimes" emerged in response to Wirz's trial as commandant of Andersonville Prison. The debate over Wirz's guilt as well as other atrocities committed during the war, including the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre and even the act of secession itself, reveal the anxiety produced by the war's immense devastation and the struggle to control its meaning for future generations. It also highlights the importance of mid-19th Century developments in international law pertaining to the rules of war and justice for those who violate them.
On March 13 -- Stephen McKinley Henderson will speak about "Story-Line Acting" and his experiences as an actor in both film and on stage. The audience will be particularly interested in his role as Abraham Lincoln's personal valet in the film "Lincoln," which was recently nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
Henderson is a professor of theater and dance at the University of Buffalo. He was nominated for the Tony Award in 2010 for his work on the Broadway production of "Fences" with Denzel Washington, and he has appeared in Steven Spielberg's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." He also appeared in the comedy "Tower Heist" and the HBO series "The Newsroom."
On April 3 -- A lecture titled "Myths and More at Gettysburg" with George McGaughey.
No Civil War battlefield is more famous (at least in the North) than Gettysburg. To many, it is sacred ground that warrants many visits and careful study, and like any other historical landscape, it is prone to myths and legends. In this talk, McGaughey will discuss the basis of those myths and the many discoveries he has made as a frequent visitor. His findings will surprise even the most knowledgeable Civil War buff.
On May 1 -- The Spring 2013 Lecture series in Batavia concludes with GCC Professor Garth Swanson presenting the "New York's Forgotten War -- The War of 1812 and the Making of the Empire State."
The War of 1812 remains a confusing and little remembered chapter in the history of the United States. New York, as a result of its extensive border with British-controlled Canada, was one of the primary fronts of the war and its residents experienced considerable hardship over the three years of the conflict. In addition, political divisions brought on by the war threatened to tear the state apart internally. Yet, New York quickly emerged from the war stronger and more economically vibrant than ever. In his talk, Professor Swanson will assess the role of New York in the conflict and evaluate the ways the war helped to create a modern New York State.
(In addition to the lecture series, a three-day Civil War encampment will take place at the Medina Campus Center from Friday, April 26 until Sunday, April 28. The encampment will include reenactors in authentic soldier costumes setting up Union and Confederate camps and many other events and reenactments throughout the weekend.)
For further information on the Civil War and the initiative at GCC, check out the Civil War blog at http://civilwaratgcc.wordpress.com/.