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Remixing the Civil War

Meditations on the Sesquicentennial

Edited by Thomas J. Brown

In 1961, the historian and poet Robert Penn Warren remarked that "the Civil War is, for the American imagination, the great single event of our history." This volume reconsiders whether, fifty years later, Warren’s claim still holds true.

Essays from specialists in art, literature, and history examine how contemporary culture represents and interprets the Civil War. They look at the works of more than thirty artists and writers as well as multiple movements—political and social—to reveal the many and provocative ways in which Americans engage the Civil War today. The book includes chapters on the place of Abraham Lincoln in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, controversies over the symbolism of the Confederate flag, and the proliferation of "Juneteenth" observances.

Remixing the Civil War pays special attention to the works of African Americans and white southerners, for whom the Civil War was a revolutionary and defining moment. Such prominent scholars as Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr., W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Kirk Savage, and Elizabeth Young explore the works of major artists and lesser-known figures, including Bobbie Ann Mason, Kara Walker, Dario Robleto, and John Huddleston. The authors find that Americans today openly and playfully manipulate familiar images of the Civil War to explore the malleability and permeability of traditional social categories like national identity, gender, and race.

This collection continues the conversation Warren began fifty years ago, although taking it in unorthodox and challenging directions, to offer fresh and stimulating perspectives on the war’s presence in the collective imagination of the nation.

About the Author

Thomas J. Brown is an associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina and editor of The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration: A Brief History with Documents and Reconstructions: New Perspectives on the Postbellum United States.

Endorsements

The nation needs this kind of jarring, probing look at all the fragmented artistic expression that the Civil War continues to stimulate.

- David W. Blight, Yale University

Reviews

Most of the essays in Remixing the Civil War offer rich analytical insights on how and why the Civil War continues to provide a critical touchstone for so many Americans in so many different genres.

- Nina Silber - Civil War Monitor

This collection of essays highlights more than ever how Civil War remembrance and commemoration continue to inform the present in unexpected and meaningful ways and show no signs of stopping.

- Virginia Magazine

Remixing the Civil War... pushes the boundaries of cultural history by examining American collective memory during the sesquicentennial.

- Matthew E. Stanley - Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

The breadth of the themes and variety of methodologies of the essays in this collection are to be applauded. Courses on Civil War memory, modern art, and popular culture will find much to inform them and challenge their vision of the war’s enduring meaning in this volume.

- Caroline E. Janney - Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
Johns Hopkins University Press
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