The Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library each will host the scholar-led book discussion series Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War from March - May 2012.
Both institutions received separate grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association to host these community conversations, informed by great works of fiction and non-fiction as well as words written by civilians and combatants during the Civil War.
Each series is comprised of five scholar-led book discussions, following a format devised by NEH/ALA project scholar Edward L. Ayers, a Civil War historian and president of the University of Richmond.
Kansas City Public Library sessions will meet on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, located in Kansas City at 4801 Main St., with discussions led by UMKC History professor Diane Mutti-Burke. Mid-Continent Public Library sessions will meet on Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Midwest Genealogy Center, located in Independence at 3440 Lee's Summit Rd., with discussions led by Drury University English professor Randall Fuller.
Both KCPL and MCPL have reserved copies of all required readings, available for check-out by registered participants. In addition to works by two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors (novelist Geraldine Brooks and historian James McPherson), participants will also read America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries - a collection of first-hand accounts of the war as well as speeches by the likes of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry David Thoreau. Also included are excerpts of works by contemporary historians and authors.
This series is free, but space is limited. Registration is required. Participants are not required to attend all five discussion sessions, but may register for those particular sessions that suit their interests and/or availability.
Prospective participants may register for KCPL sessions online at kclibrary.org/civilwar . MCPL offers online registration at mymcpl.org/events , or prospective readers may register at any MCPL location.
The dates, times, and required readings for the five discussion sessions are as follows:
First session: "Imagining War," featuring discussions of March by Geraldine Brooks and Part One from the America's War anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers.
Second session:"Choosing Sides," featuring a discussion of Part Two from the America's War anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers.
Third session:"Making Sense of Shiloh," featuring a discussion of Part Three from the America's War anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers.
Fourth session:"The Shape of War," featuring a discussion of Crossroads of Freedom by James McPherson and Part Four from the America's War anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers.
Fifth session:"War and Freedom," featuring a discussion of Part Five from the America's War anthology edited by Edward L. Ayers.
Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.