Community Conversations Series explores the Civil War in Tennessee

Dec. 17, 2013

This spring, Maryville College’s Community Conversations Series will explore “Volunteers Divided: The Civil War in Tennessee” with a presentation, a one-man play and a bus tour.

The series gets underway Feb. 6.

Community Conversations is an annual lecture series conducted to facilitate conversations and discussions between members of the entire Maryville College community, citizens of Blount County and surrounding areas, College alumni and prospective students.

The spring series is also part of Maryville College’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Series, which was formed in 2011 to put together programming that explores how the Civil War affected multiple populations in East Tennessee, address traditional narratives and myths of the war, and examine the war’s lasting legacy in the region.

Taylor to discuss Civil War slave refugee camps

Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor, associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky, will present “On the Frontlines of Freedom: The Story of the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps in Tennessee and the Nation” on Feb. 6.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in Fayerweather Hall’s Lawson Auditorium.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially exempted Tennessee, but the state was hardly exempt from the long and tangled history of slave emancipation,” Taylor said. “Turning attention to life on the ground, in the hastily erected camps of fugitive slaves (“contraband”), in places like Grand Junction and Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga, this talk will describe the very first wartime encounters between Tennessee’s refugees from slavery and its occupying Union soldiers. These encounters launched the real work of securing freedom in everyday life – but also reveal that the path from Union occupation to slave liberation would be anything but a straight one.”

Taylor is the author of The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005), as well as a co-editor, with Michael Perman, of Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Cengage, 2010). She currently serves on the advisory board of the Society of Civil War Historians. Taylor is writing a book about the experiences of the men, women and children who fled slavery and took refuge in Union lines during the U.S. Civil War.

One-man show adapted from Civil War book

Bobby Funk, professor of theatre at East Tennessee State University, will perform “Co Aytch: Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier” at 7 p.m. Tues., April 1 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Haslam Family Flex Theatre.

The performance is free and open to the public, but a printed ticket from the Clayton Center Box Office is required for admission.

Funk adapted the play from the book Co. Aytch by Sam. R. Watkins. Born in 1839 in Columbia, Tenn., Watkins left his home during the Civil War to enlist in Company H of the First Tennessee Regiment. In the war, he would fight in almost every major battle fought by the Army of Tennessee.

The production is set in a lecture hall in 1882. Funk plays Watkins, who has been invited to the lecture hall to talk about his experiences in the war.

“I take the audience through the war from its beginning to surrender,” Funk said.

Funk earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre and speech education from Western Carolina University, and he received his master of fine arts degree in acting and directing from the University of Carolina-Greensboro. He was also studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He is the author of the book The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors. He has worked professionally as an actor and director off-Broadway and in regional theatres around the country.

Bus tour will explore “The Civil War in Cades Cove”

Dr. Aaron Astor, associate professor of history at Maryville College, will lead “The Civil War in Cades Cove: A Bus Tour in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” on Sat., April 19. Tickets for the bus tour are sold out.

“The Civil War was a defining moment for the people of Cades Cove, bringing conflict and chaos to a peaceful community,” Astor said. “This tour will explore how the residents of Cades Cove endured four difficult years of guerrilla war, raids and privation.”

Astor, a Civil War scholar who recently authored Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri, holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American History from Northwestern University. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ online series “Disunion,” and co-chairs Maryville College’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee.

For more information about the spring Community Conversations Series, please contact Dr. Kelly Battles, chair of the Community Conversations Series Committee, at 865.273.8877 or kelly.battles@maryvillecollege.edu.