HIST 301
Approaching the Past: The American Civil War Spring 2019
Division II
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How have historians told the story of the Civil War? Even before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court house in the spring of 1865, historians and local communities strove to craft a coherent story of a war that left 620,000 soldiers dead and set formally enslaved people on a long road towards freedom. Civil War historiography began in the 19th century and has been reinvented numerous times in the last century. Biographies of Lincoln, of Generals–Union and Confederate still appear regularly. Historians of gender have tried to capture women’s experiences on the homefront and on the front lines. Histories of battles, of legislation, of the era’s music, literature, and art all fill rows of shelves in Sawyer. We will not attempt to “understand” the Civil War. Rather we will examine a few very different histories of the event. We will read authors who center African Americans and authors who ignore them. We will read a biography and cultural history. We’ll look at new attempts to tell local histories of the war through interactive web sites and film. We’ll also study historical re-enactors, North and South. We will end with an examination of the recent struggles over Confederate Memorials.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3264
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one presentation, one formal paper and/or a book review, a final paper
Prerequisites: restricted to History majors and sophomores planning to major in History
Enrollment Preferences: senior History majors
Distributions: Division II

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