West Liberty University welcomed the traveling exhibit “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” to campus a few weeks ago and now invites the public to enjoy two special programs that highlight different aspects of the exhibit.

Both programs will be held in the Paul Elbin Library, which is also the site of the 1,000 square foot exhibit on loan from the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office in collaboration with the National Constitution Center (NCC).

CJ Farnsworth

CJ Farnsworth

Special events include:

  • 7 p.m., Sept. 11 presentation by Dr. Jason Phillips, Eberly Professor of Civil War Studies at West Virginia University. Phillips will speak on the South’s view of Lincoln during the Civil War in a program entitled, “Abraham Lincoln in the Southern Imagination.”
  • 3 p.m., Sept. 12 poetry reading with WLU Professors C.J. Farnsworth and Dr. Dave Thomas will present Poetry of the Civil War Era. Audience members will hear voices of strife, solidarity, loss and liberation from literary favorites Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane and many more.

Phillips specializes in teaching Civil War and Reconstruction, Southern history and 19th-century America. He earned his doctoral degree at Rice University, his master’s at Wake Forest University and his bachelor’s degree at University of Richmond.

Dr. Jason Phillips

Dr. Jason Phillips

His first book, “Diehard Rebels: The Culture of Invincibility,” was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2007. He also edited a collection of essays, titled “Storytelling, History, and the Postmodern South,” which Louisiana State University Press published in 2013. His current book project, “Prophecy of Blood,” studies American anticipations of the Civil War to understand how widespread expectations shaped thoughts, actions, and memories of the war.

Farnsworth is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Master’s of Fine Arts program. Her work has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Kenning, Kestrel and Poetry on the Move. She also has been published in WV Living.

Farnsworth also is active in local theater productions. She resides in Wheeling with her husband and son.

Dr. David J. Thomas

Dr. David J. Thomas

Thomas also resides in Wheeling has taught at West Liberty since 1985. He previously served two years as interim chairman of the Department of Humanities and most recently received the Professor of the Year award for the fourth time.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and history at West Liberty and earned a Master’s of Arts in American Literature at Marshall University and a Doctoral of Modern American Literature from West Virginia University.

Thomas is the author of the 1998 book of poetry, “only the trying.” He is known regionally for his poetry reading, and is a frequent guest at Ohio County Public Library Lunch with Books program and the Wheeling Arts Fest.

Using the Constitution as the cohesive thread, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” offers a fresh and innovative perspective on Lincoln that focuses on his struggle to meet the political and constitutional challenges of the Civil War.

Organized thematically, the exhibition explores how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the war—the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties. Visitors will leave the exhibition with a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.

Hours for the Elbin Library during the school year are 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Fridays and noon – 4 p.m., Saturdays. It is closed on Labor Day.

For more on the Lincoln Exhibit, please visit the ALA website, www.ala.org/programming/lincoln. For more information on the Elbin Library or its programming, please call 304-336-8261.