Presented by Dr. Richard McCaslin – Professor – University of North Texas
Meeting starts at 7:00 PM via Zoom (You will receive a separate invitation)
Reputation is fickle. Some historical figures grow in stature over time. Others, whose flame once shone brightly, are destined to spend the rest of time in obscurity. Why? As an example, Dr. Richard McCaslin will help us unravel the mystery of what happened to one of the most famous poets of the Confederacy – Father Abram J. Bryan. Never heard of him? That’s the point. Join us on Tuesday to hear this fascinating story.
The rise and fall of the reputation of Father Abram J. Ryan as the “Poet Laureate of the Confederacy” makes an interesting test case concerning the impact of myth versus reality. A writer lives in two worlds, his actual life and the one his audience imagines for him in the process of embracing and admiring his work. If his audience thinks it discovers something distasteful, then it can turn away from him and never return. Such is the case of Father Ryan. After being one of the most published Southern authors for decades after the Civil War ended, and the object of numerous loving memorials, he suddenly ceased to be published and today is largely forgotten, with other poets claiming his former title. This presentation will explore his literary career and the adulation for him, which continued long after his death, and offer an explanation for the sudden eclipse of his popularity.
RICHARD B. McCASLIN, TSHA Professor of Texas History at the University of North Texas, is the author or editor of eighteen books. These include Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862, which earned a Tullis Prize and AASLH commendation, Lee in the Shadow of Washington, which won a Laney Prize and Slatten Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer, Fighting Stock: John S. “Rip” Ford of Texas, which got a Pate Award and Bates Award, At the Heart of Texas: One Hundred Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997, which won an Award of Merit from the Texas Philosophical Society, and Saratoga on the Cibolo: Sutherland Springs, Texas, which received a Publication Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society. His Tennessee volume for the Portraits of Conflict series earned the Douglas Southall Freeman Award, and the series received an AASLH commendation. A Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and Admiral in the Texas Navy, he also has commendations from the Civil War Round Tables in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Shreveport for his academic work on the Civil War era.