The final two sessions of The Future of Civil War History provided an opportunity for some open exchanges on what had been said and heard over the previous several days. Looking back on the program, I suspect that there might have been a better way to go about this. The penultimate session of “A Letter to the National Park Service” would have been better cast as a true conversation among presenters, and it would have been better placed at the end. The ultimate session was an exercise in frustration for me, for what had happened over the previous several days cried out for assessment, an assessment that could not be met by precirculated position papers that addressed other issues. Thus I felt that my comments, prepared in February, as well as the ensuing discussion, were somewhat out of place given the path the conference took. Fortunately, in my case I could ditch my old paper without consigning it to oblivion altogether by the simple act of posting it on this blog. Given the conversations I had and the impressions I formed over the previous two days, I asked that I be allowed to speak last, and moderator Aaron Sheehan-Dean graciously granted that request.
What was I thinking? Continue reading