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Oxford scholar visits CCU to discuss Civil War

March 28, 2006

Richard Carwardine, Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford University, will deliver a lecture on Lincoln: Purpose and Power on Tuesday, April 11 at 3 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts at Coastal Carolina University. The event, sponsored by the Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies, is free and open to the public.

Professor Carwardine is England's leading Civil War scholar and one of the world's leading Lincoln scholars, according to Charles Joyner, Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal. The discussion will include the consideration of the role of religion in broader context in Lincoln's life.

Carwardine was awarded the Lincoln Prize April 14, 2004, at the Union League Club in New York for his biography of Lincoln, published the previous year. Raised in the mining valleys of Wales, Carwardine is the first British scholar to be awarded the Lincoln Prize, the largest award for American history in the United States. Joyner serves on the Lincoln Prize Advisory Board.

I regard the prize as the greatest of the honors to which an American Civil War historian could aspire, Carwardine says. It is especially gratifying that the judges thought that a non-American had something fresh to say about one of the most written-about presidents of the United States.

Joyner and Carwardine became friends through BrANCH, the society of British American Nineteenth-Century Historians. Both historians are honorary life members of the society.

The study of American history in Britain has never been healthier, Carwardine says. My own university, Oxford, is expanding its provision of undergraduate and graduate courses and making new appointments to teaching posts.

In an earlier book, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America, Carwardine had argued that scholars could not understand the politics of an era without paying serious attention to religious ideas and constituencies.

As a biographer Carwardine stresses Lincoln's political relationship with evangelical Protestantism. We cannot begin to understand Lincoln, he says, without appreciating his moral relationship to power, even when the evidence itself is so uncertain.