Civil War-themed Creative Mind Series begins with author & exhibit

by Joe Wyatt
Published November 20, 2019

Focusing on the substantial reverberations of the American Civil War, Amarillo College is kicking off its Creative Mind Series with a lecture by noted author S.C. “Sam” Gwynne, and a photo exhibit courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Success Is AC NewsBoth opportunities stem from AC’s annual Creative Mind Series, now in its 36th year, which in 2019-2020 revolves around the theme “Reverberations of Conflict: The Legacy of the Civil War.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.

Additionally, an ancillary exhibit of photographs – also free – titled “Ruins of the Civil War,” is on display now through Jan. 8 at AC’s Southern Light Gallery in the Ware Student Commons on the Washington Street Campus.

Gwynne was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 book Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Tribe in American History. At the lecture, he will discuss themes in his latest book – Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War. The author also is scheduled to meet with AC students, faculty and staff at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 6 at The Underground (in the Ware Student Commons on the Washington Street Campus) to discuss the writing process. Retired AC faculty member Mike Haynes (journalism) will host the conversation.


While the Civil War itself is fascinating, we chose the theme of ‘reverberations’ in order to explore how conflicts at the heart of the war continue into the present,” said Eric Fauss, assistant professor of social sciences and coordinator of the Creative Mind Series.

“For example, the nation is still divided over what the war meant and was fought for, as seen with debates over whether or not to continue to display monuments to the Confederacy and Confederate soldiers.

“Although the war destroyed the institution of slavery, the country has not yet fully realized the promise of equality for African Americans, the great hope of the Reconstruction Era; the struggle continues,” he said.

René West, assistant professor of photography and curator of AC’s Southern Light Gallery, said images in the ongoing photo exhibit were selected from the Civil War Collection at the Library of Congress.


While there are many well-known photographs of fallen soldiers and battlegrounds, this exhibition is focused on the ruins and devastation to cities and to make visual what happens to a country’s infrastructure,” West said.

“These photographs look back at another time in history when the nation’s people were deeply divided. The cost was an estimated 620,000 lives, roughly 2 percent of the population, which today would represent 6 million Americans.

“An honest look at the past and how it relates to the present seems like a worthy discussion,” she said.

Fauss says the Creative Mind Series will continue during the spring semester at AC with at least two more events – hopefully another lecture and a panel discussion – which are still in the planning stages.