The Blue and the Grey - The American Civil War

Ref: C2342722

The American Civil War (1861-1865) was the result of long-standing differences between the northern and southern states. Eleven states seceded from the American Union and formed the Confederacy. It was in many ways a modern war and had an immense impact on American society. Historians and others continue to debate the wars events, causes and legacy even today. This course aims to examine many aspects of the American Civil War, and wherever possible interrogate the surviving evidence to be found in letters, diaries, newspapers and maps from the period. Among other topics we will look at the impact the conflict had on Britain and whether there was ever any chance of Britain joining in the conflict. The course will also consider how the conflict has been portrayed in more recent literature and film.

Course aim

This course will examine the causes, key events, personalities and the legacy of the American Civil War (1861-1865). It saw a traumatic loss of American lives, and historians and others continue to debate it to this day.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • demonstrate an increased knowledge of the key events and personalities of the American Civil War
  • use historical sources such as letters, diaries, newspapers, maps and photographs to illustrate this topic
  • discuss whether the war between the states was inevitable or whether it could have been averted
  • explain the impact of the American Civil War on Britain and give examples of such episodes as the Trent affair and the building of the Confederate ship Alabama on the river Mersey.
  • discuss critically the ways in which the story of the American Civil War has been portrayed in popular culture, e.g. the novel and subsequent movie Gone with the Wind

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • The emphasis will be on student enquiry of source material (provided) combined with group discussion. Each session wil feature hand-outs to assist further study and learning.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • A notebook and pen would be useful, A folder in which to store the hand-outs issued each session would also be helpful.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Browsing Library shelves and/or the internet on the American Civil War should be useful;.or perhaps investigating a personality such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or Ulysses S. Grant might be one way into the topic.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • The tutor will be happy to discuss possibilities for further studies with course members.

Download full course information sheet

The Blue and the Grey - The American Civil War

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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