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Department 1

Civil War Institute


Last year, I attended a Civil War Conference that highlighted what has become known as the “Dark Turn of the Civil War.” Basically, the turn is a shift in focus from the shiny-bugles-and-gleaming-bayonets interpretation of the Civil War to revealing the ugly underside of the Civil War, emphasizing themes of death, destruction, and loss. At the time, I remember thinking, this is a good thing, Civil War history does tend to be overly romanticized as the glorious American tragedy. One panel that bothered me, however, featured a discussion on “Dark Tourism.” I had never heard of Dark Tourism, and I remember being wary of whatever was about to happen. One man on the panel had led ghost tours in Gettysburg; another had worked for a museum exhibit of a Viking village, working with perfumers to recreate the authentic smells of a Viking latrine. [excerpt]


This blog post originally appeared in The Gettysburg Compiler and was created by students at Gettysburg College.