See You in Class: the Confederate Battle Flag: the Contentious History of an American Symbol by John M. Coski

When: Thu., April 20, 5:30-7 p.m. and Thu., April 27, 5:30-7 p.m. 2017

The June 2015 Charleston church murders renewed a national public debate about the meaning of the Confederate battle flag and its proper place on the American landscape. Although the 2015 debate may have been unprecedented in its intensity, it was hardly new. The Confederate battle flag has been the focus of controversy and debate since the mid-20th century, when it emerged as a widely-used pop culture icon and a symbol of white supremacy and resistance to racial integration. How did a flag that was born in 1861 as a distinctive banner to be used in battle by the Confederacy’s primary field army become such a lightning rod in the 20th and 21st centuries? This two-part class will explore the full history of the Confederate battle flag, from its Civil War origins to today. The class will use lectures, document discussions, and case studies to trace the evolution of the flag’s multiple meanings and the implications of those meanings for its place in modern culture. Dr. John M. Coski is historian at the American Civil War Museum. He is author of The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2005).