Civil War amputations topic of Reeder Distinguished Lecture

civil war 10.53.48 PM.pngThe real story behind the gory amputations associated with the Civil War is the topic of the inaugural Robert W. Reeder I Distinguished Lecture in Nineteenth Century History at Youngstown State University.

“Disability and the American Civil War,” a free, virtual presentation 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18, features Sarah Handley-Cousins, clinical assistant professor of History and associate director of the Center for Disability Studies at the University of Buffalo.

Register here. This event is sponsored by the Reeder Endowment, YSU Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Melnick Medical Museum, and Office of Veterans Affairs.

“From Gone with the Wind to Mercy Street, Civil War pop culture is full of gory amputations, while magazines and newspapers from the war era are littered with patriotic stories, illustrations, and songs full of sentimental praise for the sacrifices of the ‘empty sleeves,’” said Amy Laurel Fluker, the Robert W. Reeder I Professor of History at YSU.

“Indeed, amputation has become shorthand for Civil War disability, but that shorthand leaves an awful lot out.”

In the presentation, Handley-Cousins discusses how reevaluating definitions of disability can shift what we think we know about the bodily toll exacted by the Civil War. Handley-Cousins is the author of Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North, published by the University of Georgia Press in 2019. She’s also a producer of "Dig: A History Podcast" and editor of the history blog "Nursing Clio."

Fluker, who specializes in the study of Civil War memory, was named the Reeder Endowed Professor of History last year.