Alumna, Stephanie McCurry, discusses Civil War and the South

The Confederacy was not only challenged militarily by the might of the Union, but politically by two groups of people that Southern leaders took for granted, a Binghamton University alumna and University of Pennsylvania professor said at a lecture on April 28.

“For slaves and white women, people whom the (Confederate) government had expressed no previous interest, the Civil War posed more than a test of political commitments,” Stephanie McCurry said. “It was a profoundly transformative event. For them, the war was a moment when time itself opened up and they stepped into the making of history.”

McCurry, who received her doctorate in history from Binghamton in 1988, is a specialist in 19th-century history, with a focus on the American South and the Civil War. Her first book,Masters of Small Worlds, won numerous awards, but her latest book, 2010’s Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, has brought McCurry even greater acclaim. Just last month, the book was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

“I really am delighted to be back here in Binghamton,” she said. “(History) was a wonderful department to be in then and I’m sure it still is now.”

McCurry’s book and talk are especially timely in light of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial. She began her lecture – an overview of Confederate Reckoning – by describing how South Carolina and other states opted out of the Union.

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