Letters are among Civil War historians’ most valued and widely used sources, but as a distinctive form of written expression, they are not well understood. They contain a lot of information about the war, but what kind of information, mediated in what ways?
This question will be answered during the West Virginia University Department of English lecture, “The Civil War Letter as Medium and Genre,” a part of the department’s Jackson Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring a presentation by Christopher Hager, associate professor of English at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut on February 10, 2016 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in room 130 Colson Hall.
Unpublished and uncensored, private letters seem to offer windows on the lived experience of soldiers and civilians. This talk focuses on the correspondence of relatively uneducated, working-class citizens to explore both how letters constrained their writers and how writers reinvented letters.
About the Presenter
Christopher Hager began his career in literary studies as an undergraduate at Stanford, where he wrote a thesis on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest under the direction of the late novelist and critic Gilbert Sorrentino. As a graduate student at Northwestern, he studied 19th American literature in relation to slavery and the Civil War.
At Trinity College, Hager teaches courses in American literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present and co-directs the Center for Teaching and Learning. A recipient of research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, Hager has written articles and delivered lectures on a variety of topics in American history and literature. His first book, “Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing,” won the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Frederick Douglass prize for 2014 and was short listed for the Lincoln prize.
The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be available after.