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Union University Dept of History

Department News

History Lecture Series Will Feature Civil War Historian on October 2

Aug 19, 2014 -

The Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lecture Series will feature prize-winning Civil War historian Elizabeth Varon on October 2, 2014. Varon, the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of History at the University of Virginia, will present two lectures during her visit to Jackson. Her first lecture, titled “Reaping the Whirlwind: Disunion Rhetoric and the Coming of the Civil War,” will be at 1:40 p.m. in Salon II of the Carl Grant Events Center. At 7:15 p.m., she will talk about “Legacies of Appomattox: Lee’s Surrender in History and Memory” in the G. M. Savage Memorial Chapel. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Nationally acclaimed for her scholarship on the American Civil War and nineteenth-century Southern history, Varon is the author of four books related to these subjects. Her most recent publication, Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2013), won the Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize of the Austin Civil War Round Table and reached the level of Finalist for the Jefferson Davis Award of the Museum of the Confederacy. In 2008, the University of North Carolina published her work Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859; it was the first volume in the series “Littlefield History of the Civil War Era.” Her book Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy, published by Oxford University Press in 2003, earned the Virginia Historical Society’s Richard Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginia Biography and the People’s Choice Award of the Library of Virginia/James River Writers Festival; it also received the Lillian Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council and the Wall Street Journal honor of being one of the “Five Best Books” on the “Civil War away from the battlefield.” Her first book, We Mean to Be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), was named a Finalist in the Virginia Center for the Book Non-Fiction Award.

In addition to her books, Varon has had other scholarly achievements. She has written a number of book chapters and journal articles, and her doctoral dissertation was awarded the Lerner-Scott Prize for Best Dissertation in U.S. Women’s History by the Organization of American Historians.

Varon earned her B.A. at Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. at Yale University. She began her teaching career in history at Wellesley College, and then taught at Temple University before moving to the University of Virginia in 2010.

Previous Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lecturers have included: Pulitzer Prize-winning authors David Hackett Fischer, Daniel Walker Howe, and Gordon Wood; Bancroft Prize winner Edward Ayers; and Gerhard Weinberg, who won the 2009 Pritzker Military Literature Award of $100,000 for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.