Civil War’s imprint on Southern culture focus of 2013 Natchez Conference
For more than 150 years, America’s Civil War has influenced not only military leaders and historians but also legions of creative people, said Carolyn Vance Smith of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez, Miss.
“How creative people have reacted to the war will be the focus of the 24th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, Feb. 21-24, 2013,” Smith said.
Smith and Copiah-Lincoln founded the award-winning, annual conference in 1990. It is now sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln, Natchez National Historical Park and Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Headquarters will be at the Natchez Convention Center in downtown Natchez.
“The conference will take place during the middle of the sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War, 1861-1865,” Smith said. “The agenda is full of references to the war in the fields of fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, film, music, painting, sculpture and re-enacting.”
In addition, the NLCC will explore physical references to the war in Natchez houses, churches, cemeteries and other sites, Smith said. “The great conflict between the North and the South indeed ended in 1865, but its impact continues to resonate,” she said. “Some of the world’s most powerful books, films, music and artistic creations are based on this war.”
Keynote speaker on the evening of Feb. 21 is LSU professor and author William Cooper, whose program is called “1863: Year of Crucial Decisions.” Cooper is author of Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era and We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861. Cooper’s program is sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi
Library Commission and the NLCC.
The MHC, which has partially funded the Natchez conference each year since 1990, will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the 2013 NLCC, with Feb. 23 named “Mississippi Humanities Council Day.”
Other speakers, most of whom are noted authors, and their topics include:
- Jay Watson, University of Mississippi professor, “Faulkner’s Civil Wars”
- Gaines M. Foster, LSU professor, “Celebrating the Sesquicentennnial? Complexities and Ambiguities in Remembering the Civil War”
- Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas professor, and C.B. Claiborne, Texas Southern University professor, “Reading/Seeing Between the Lines: Fact and Fiction in ‘Miss Jane Pittman’ and Subsequent Slave Narratives”
- J. Parker Hills, military historian of Clinton, Miss., “Art of Commemoration: Vicksburg National Military Park”
- Jefferson G. Mansell, historian with the Natchez National Historical Park, “Now Occupied for Public Use: The Houses of Natchez Behind Enemy Lines”
- R. Lee Hadden, Civil War re-enactment expert of Sterling, Va., “Re-enactment: History by the People, of the People, and for the People”
Also on the program are three Civil War-inspired films. These are:
- e_SHrSCold Mountain, with discussion led by James Wiggins, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez, Miss.
- e_SHrSThe Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, with discussion led by Wiggins and Graham
- e_SHrSMargaret Mitchell: American Rebel, a Georgia Public Broadcasting film about the author of Gone with the Wind
In addition, on Feb. 24 will be tours of sites associated with the Civil War.
The Feb. 24 morning tour is of two National Historic Landmark mansions, Longwood and Rosalie. Under construction when war broke out, Longwood has stood unfinished for decades because northern workmen stopped their work in 1861 to return home. Rosalie, with its commanding view of the river, was Union headquarters during the war.
The Feb. 24 afternoon tour is of four sites, which include:
- Forks of the Road, where slaves were bought and sold until 1863
- The Burn, a mansion inside the Union’s Fort McPherson, now home of Bridget and Glenn Green
- Natchez City Cemetery, where people associated with the war are buried
- Natchez National Cemetery, where Civil War forces lie buried
Music of the Civil War is the theme of a concert Feb. 23 at Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church, sponsored by the NLCC, Natchez Festival of Music and University of Southern Mississippi. Additional music inspired by the war will be performed Feb. 22 after lunch at the Carriage House at Stanton Hall by re-enactors Jim Woodrick and Tim Waltman, both of Jackson, Miss.
An awards ceremony Feb. 23 will honor three outstanding writers, two of whom will win the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. One is Jesmyn Ward, University of South Alabama professor and author of Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, which won the 2011 National Book Award.
The other is Curtis Wilkie, University of Mississippi professor, award-winning writer for The Boston Globe and author of The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial Lawyer, Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South and Arkansas Mischief.
Winning the Horton Foote Award for Special Achievement in Screenwriting is John Lee Hancock, Los Angeles, formerly of Longview, Texas, screenwriter of A Perfect World, Hard Time Romance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Doctors, The Alamo, The Rookie and The Blind Side.
Receiving the Thad Cochran Humanities Achievement Award Feb. 22 is Cora Norman, Crossville, Tenn., director emerita of the Mississippi Humanities Council. Presenting the award is Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
A major social event that is free and open to the public is a 90th birthday party Feb. 21 honoring William F. Winter, Jackson, Miss., former governor of Mississippi and president emeritus, Board of Trustees, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Winter has served as director of proceedings at every NLCC since the conference began in 1990. Hosting the party at The Briars and Briarvue, overlooking the Mississippi River, are property owners Kristy and Leon Atkins, the NLCC, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Historical Society and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Other social events include a reception at Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture and a gala benefit reception and supper honoring award winners and speakers at the mansion Magnolia Vale, beneath Fort McPherson at river’s edge, now home of David and Betty Paradise.
Most of the conference is free of charge. Ticketed events are a luncheon at the Carriage House Feb. 22 ($25); a reception at Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture ($10); a benefit reception/supper at Magnolia Vale Feb. 23 ($135, with $100 tax-deductible); a concert Feb. 23 ($10); a morning tour of two mansions Feb. 24 ($20); and a guided afternoon tour Feb. 24 ($25).
Up to 2.6 Continuing Education Units are available by emailing Beth.Richard@colin.edu or calling (601) 446-1103.
Information about the NLCC and tickets are available by visiting http://www.colin.edu/nlcc, emailing NLCC@colin.edu or calling (601) 446-1289 or toll-free (866) 296-NLCC (6522).
East Baton Rouge Parish Library: http://www.ebrpl.com/.
Livingston Parish Library: http://www.livingston.lib.la.us/.
Ascension Parish Library: http://main.ascension.lib.la.us/.
West Baton Rouge Parish Library: http://www1.youseemore.com/WBatonRouge/default.asp.
Iberville Parish Library: http://www.iberville.lib.la.us/.
West Feliciana Parish Library: http://wfplibrary.org/.
Audubon Regional Library: http://www2.youseemore.com/AUDUBON/.
Lafayette Public Library: http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org/.
St. James Parish Library: http://www.stjames.lib.la.us/.
St. John the Baptist Parish Library: http://www.stjohn.lib.la.us/.
St. Charles Parish Library: http://www.myscpl.org/.
Jefferson Parish Library: http://www.jefferson.lib.la.us/.
New Orleans Public Library: http://nutrias.org/.
St. Bernard Parish Library: http://www.stbernard.lib.la.us/.
St. Tammany Parish Library: http://www.sttammany.lib.la.us/home_flash.html.
Melinda Palacio, author of How Fire is a Story, and Lucrecia Guerrero, Tree of Sighs, will sign copies of their books in a joint appearance 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at Maple Street Book Shop Healing Center location, 2372 St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans.
Items for Book Events were provided by the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.