The DSU History Program and the Institute of Politics and Public Affairs are proud to present the third annual History Distinguished Lecture. The Distinguished Lecture brings to campus an academic historian, with a substantial record of achievement and innovation in the discipline, to discuss a topic of broad interest to students, staff, faculty, and the Southern Utah community. This year’s lecture will take place Monday, February 10, at 6:00 PM in the Dunford Auditorium. The event is free and open to all.
The 2020 History Distinguished Lecturer is Dr. John M. Coski, Historian at The Museum of the Confederacy (now part of The American Civil War Museum), where he has worked in various capacities since 1988. He earned his B.A. from Mary Washington College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the College of William and Mary and worked summers at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Antietam National Battlefield, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He is the author of several books, most notably The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2005) and Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron (Savas, 1996), and 150 published essays, articles, and reviews. He has delivered more than 250 public talks, conference papers, and panel discussion comments around the country. He has recently begun research toward what he hopes to be a book-length history of Belle Isle, tentatively entitled Belle Isle: Life and Death, Past and Present on America’s Founding River.
The title of Dr. Coski’s lecture will be “The Confederate Battle Flag: A History of America’s Most Controversial Symbol.” Born in 1861 as the battle flag of the Confederacy’s most formidable army, the blue diagonal cross on a red field has evolved into a symbol of the Confederacy itself, of the South as a region, of rebels, rednecks, and racists. Controversies raged throughout the late 20th century over its public display, and events of recent years – especially the 2015 Charleston church murders – have marginalized it even more. When and how did a simple military banner acquire so many different meanings, and why are there such conflicting viewpoints of it?