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Civil War historian addresses women's role during wartime

February 26th, 2012 6:02 pm by staff report

Acclaimed Civil War historian Stephanie McCurry from the University of Pennsylvania will present “Antigone’s Claim: Gender and Treason in the American Civil War,” at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 1 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.

The event, to be held in the Joseph P. Johnson Grand Hall, is open to the public and free to attend.

The talk’s title refers to Antigone, one of the Theban King Creon’s daughters. In Sophocles’ play, Antigone represents the role of women during wartime: the keepers of kinship. This traditional view of women as the promoters of family and kinship changed dramatically during the American Civil War.

From seeking orders of protection at the beginning of the war to being tortured for information about deserters at the end of the war, the perception, treatment and political influence of women changed dramatically.

McCurry is the author of several books about the Civil War. Her book “Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South” was chosen as one of the best Civil War books of 2001 by “Civil War Monitor,” and won the 2011 Frederick Douglass Book Prize.

McCurry’s talk at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is sponsored by the Washington County Public Library System as part of its recognition of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Other aspects of the recognition include “Let’s Talk About It: The Civil War,” a series of five conversations about various aspects of the war; and a traveling exhibit from the Historical Society of Virginia, “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia.” Conversations will be held at the main library every other Saturday through March 31. The traveling exhibit will be in the conference room at the main library Sunday, March 18 through Saturday, March 31.

McCurry comes through the Organization of American Historians, which promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching and presentation of American history and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

The Washington County Public Library is located at 205 Oak Hill St., Abingdon. Its four branches are located in Damascus, Glade Spring, Hayters Gap and Mendota.

For more information about the library, visit or call (276) 676-6222.

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