Proposals are sought for a symposium on technology and the American Civil War, as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s contribution to the war’s sesquicentennial commemoration. It will be hosted by the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, 9-11 November 2012.
Military technology narrowly defined—weapons, equipment, accoutrements—will form a key part of the symposium. We are particularly interested in the way new or newly improved weapons affected the conduct of war at all levels. But that was only part of the story. Technological changes remote from the battlefield also shaped the conduct of war. Agricultural mechanization permitted larger armies to be fed; growing industries provided them with arms and supplies; steam-powered transport helped deploy and sustain them. The beginnings of mass production in some industries, notably smallarms and clothing, made an appearance, as did new techniques of food preservation. So too did photography, telegraphy and various signal devices using flags and lamps, and aerial observation from fixed balloons. Yet here, as with narrower military technology, novelty hardly ruled unchallenged. Horses still mattered more than steam engines and more soldiers still died of disease than wounds.
We seek proposals for papers to be presented in six broad areas: (1) smallarms and tactics; (2) artillery and fortifications; (3) naval technology; (4) logistics and communications; (5) science and medicine; and (6) industry and agriculture. Proposals related to (1) and (6) are especially welcome. In general we prefer broader topics to narrower; attention to continuity as well as novelty; and comparative approaches emphasizing historiography over narrative. We expect to publish a book based on the conference that may serve as a comprehensive introduction to the topic of technology and the American Civil War. Conference presentations will be limited to 20 minutes each, but authors will have ample opportunity to revise and expand their short presentations for publication.
Your proposal should include two elements: (1) an abstract of 200-400 words. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions; and (2) a 1-page CV or résumé including educational history, professional employment history, and a list of significant publications and/or presentations. You may include other relevant information in the CV, as long as you do not exceed the 1-page limit. Proposals should be sent to the symposium organizer, Bart Hacker, at: , no later than 30 June 2012.
Barton C. Hacker
National Museum of American History-4013
Washington, DC 20560-0620
Phone: (202) 633-3924
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