Mark Runge, a teacher at Clayton Bradley Academy, will present Graffiti Houses of the Civil War on Thursday, November 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Sharon Lawson Room.
Runge will discuss and show photos of houses and other buildings that were used as hospitals for ill or wounded soldiers. The men who stayed in these houses found a way to leave their mark, in case they did not recover and were buried nearby; They wrote their names, brief bits of biographical information, or rough pictures on the walls.
From the press release:
In East Tennessee, Runge says there are at least three known “graffiti house” locations.
“Civil War graffiti exists in an arcane intersection of Outside Art and military history,” says Runge, a war veteran who earned two Bronze Service Stars while serving with the 5th Combat Engineers in Iraq. He will present his findings from a week-long workshop this year of an intensive study of Civil War graffiti which was fully funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop grant.
Runge says that he “will show examples of graffiti left by both Union and Confederate soldiers, attempt to explain the marks left (and those that are conspicuously absent), and propose ideas explaining why the marks are still there to be read a century-and-a-half later.”
During the workshop Runge attended, the focus of his research was on an individual soldier in order to personalize the war experience that involved thousands. “Beyond the general meaning and making of the graffiti,” Runge adds that, for this library presentation, he “will trace the war records and the pension records of a Union soldier whose account personalizes America’s most personal war.”
Tracing the journey of an individual soldier helps divine motivations for why a soldier enlisted in the Civil War, how he might have understood the war and the interaction between military and civilian life and the larger question of the origins of the war and its impact on society as well as the individual world of each soldier.
In addition, Runge will describe and show photographs of locations he visited during the workshop. He will also mention some known locations of graffiti houses in Tennessee.
Runge currently teaches in the STEAM Lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math Lab) at Clayton-Bradley Academy and is also an artist who has had extensive training and works in varied media including building Appalachian dulcimers and banjos. He studied art in China and Israel and holds a BA from the Maryland Institute and an MFA from the University of South Florida.
Free and open to the public, the program is sponsored by the Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville. For further information about library programs or services, call the library at 982-0981 or visit the website at www.blounttn.org/197.