Saturday, September 16, 2017 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
John Majewski / UC Santa Barbara
As nearly all Americans certainly know, the American Civil War was fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865. After a long standing controversy over slavery and state's rights, war broke out in April 1861, when Confederates attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln was elected. The nationalists of the Union proclaimed loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States of America advocating states' rights to perpetual slavery and its expansion in the Americas. The North and South quickly raised volunteer and conscription armies that fought mostly in the South over four years. The Union finally won the war when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the battle of Appomattox, which triggered a series of surrenders by Confederate generals throughout the southern states.
Four years of intense combat left 620,000 to 750,000 soldiers dead, a higher number than the number of American military deaths in World War I and World War II combined, and much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed. The Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, and 4 million slaves were freed. That's the standard narrative you'll hear from most historians. In fact The Civil War is arguably the most studied and written about episode in American history. This class will focus on the untold stories and alternative theories that you probably never learned in high school or college!
John Majewski is the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and Professor in the Department of History. Professor Majewski was a member of the Letters and Science Faculty Executive Committee and the Committee on Research, and served for five years on the campus Program Review Panel. He has received a Howard Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship, the Hubbell Prize for an article on Civil War History, an Andrew Mellon Research Fellowship from the Virginia Historical Society, as well as the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003. He is the author of “Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Imagination of the Confederate Nation.”
Alison Gash / University of Oregon
Few at the Founding could have ever imagined the Supreme Court becoming one of the most powerful policymaking institutions in the United States. Yet today, the Court has the power to sidestep public opinion, upend federal legislation, constrain state governance, and even bring down the President. Professor Alison Gash will take us back to the Court's humble beginnings, charting how the Court amassed its power. As we walk through the Court's history, meandering through landmark decisions, she will use her research on law and social policy to highlight the importance of understanding the Court not only as a legal actor but also as a significant source of policy innovation and paralysis. Through this lens, Professor Gash will demonstrate why the Court's makeup–its personalities and its relationships–can make or break American public policy.
Professor Gash will also discuss in some detail the recent hard fought confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and whether the politics of Kavanaugh's and other recent Court nominations may well end up eroding the "checking" capacity of the Court. Professor Gash will discuss the Kavanaugh nomination within the context of increasing partisan discord over Supreme Court nominations and the implications of this increased partisanship on the Court's ability to "put politics aside" when adjudicating over specific cases or upholding "the rule of law." As she will discuss, the founding fathers went to great lengths to insulate the federal judiciary from the passions of partisanship and majority will in order to preserve its power to hold politics accountable to a more durable set of principles and values. To what degree will this be damaged if Court nominations and nominees become vulnerable to the same partisan strife that characterizes the political world? If that happens, who will check politics?
Alison Gash is a political science professor and a member of the Provost’s Teaching Academy at the University of Oregon, where she has received several fellowships and grants for her teaching. She was recently awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Professor Gash has also taught at Berkeley, where she received the Commendation for Excellence in Teaching two years in a row. She is the author of “Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights.” Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Slate, Politico, and Washington Monthly.
Seth Lerer / University of California at San Diego
What four books are a must for every lover of literature? Award-winning teacher, Professor Seth Lerer will explore this question with participants in an intimate seminar devoted to exploring the riches of literary expression. We will discuss such renowned classics as 1984, David Copperfield, Catch 22, and Invisible Man.
Professor Lerer will show how these fascinating works help us understand some of the most pressing concerns today, including the nature of religious faith, questions of personal identity, even the quest for the American Dream. Participants will be encouraged to develop their own list of "essential reading," as Professor Lerer helps them acquire the skills necessary for enriching their encounters with books of all kinds.
Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature and former Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on literature and language, most recently on Children’s Literature, Jewish culture, and the life of the theater. He has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. His book, “Tradition: A Feeling for the Literary Past,” appeared in 2016, and his most recent book, “Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage,” was published in 2018.