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Poet-Critic Stephen Cushman Will Discuss "Bloody Promenade: Reflections On A Civil War Battle" At U.Va. Bookstore Sept. 30

Sept. 20, 1999 -- Histories, films, novels and reenactments all try to tell or show us what happened. But how can we fully comprehend the elusive and many-sided meanings of the Civil War in American life?

Stephen Cushman, a professor of American literature at the University of Virginia, widely published poet and distinguished teacher who has been obsessed with the war’s complexity for much of his life, will read from and discuss his new book, "Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle" at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at the U.Va. Bookstore. (Parking is available in the Central Grounds Garage, underneath the Bookstore.)

In "Bloody Promenade," published this month by the University Press of Virginia, Cushman examines a single famous battle, The Wilderness, as if through the many angles of a prism to try to understand the Civil War and its larger meanings today.

In doing so, he looks at how others have seen this horrific Virginia battle and gives a sweeping account that pulls in eyewitnesses, contemporary newspapers and magazines, memoirs by participants, studies by historians, and the views of fiction-writers, poets and even today’s reenactors.

Cushman lives 50 miles south of the battlefield, where, on May 5 and 6, 1864, the Union and Confederate armies under Grant and Lee met near an unfinished railroad in central Virginia. The name of the battle suggests the horror of combat at close quarters and an inability to see the whole field of engagement, even at a distance. The battle is remembered for its brutality and ultimate futility, with 26,000 casualties on both sides.

Cushman’s personal narrative is not another history of the battle. "If this book is a history of anything," he writes, "it’s the history of verbal and visual images of a single particularly awful moment in the American Civil War."

Writing in an informal first-person style, he traces his own fascination with the war to a single book, a pictorial history he read as a boy. He shows how the war has had a continuing grip on Americans, in novels from "The Red Badge of Courage" to the recent "Cold Mountain," and in films, songs, poems and paintings.

With maps and brief discussion of the battle for those not familiar with it, "Bloody Promenade" is a unique combination of memoir and cultural criticism that makes it difficult to look at the Civil War in the same way again.

For review copies of "Bloody Promenade" please contact Mary Kathryn Hassett at the University Press at (804) 924-6064.

Contact: Mary Kathryn Hassett, (804) 924-6064 or Bob Brickhouse (804) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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