Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War
When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1863, he reportedly greeted her as "the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War." To this day, Uncle Tom's Cabin serves as a touchstone for the war. Yet few works have been selected to represent the Civil War's literature, even though historians have filled libraries with books on the war itself.
This volume helps teachers address the following questions: What is the relation of canonical works to the multitude of occasional texts that were penned in response to the Civil War, and how can students understand them together? Should an approach to war literature reflect the chronology of historical events or focus instead on thematic clusters, generic forms, and theoretical concerns? How do we introduce students to archival materials that sometimes support, at other times resist, the close reading practices in which they have been trained?
Twenty-three essays cover such topics as visiting historical sites to teach the literature, using digital materials, teaching with anthologies; soldiers' dime novels, Confederate women's diaries, songs, speeches; the conflicted theme of treason, and the double-edged theme of brotherhood; how battlefield photographs synthesize fact and fiction; and the roles in the war played by women, by slaves, and by African American troops. A section of the volume provides a wealth of resources for teachers.
About the Author
Colleen Glenney Boggs is professor of English at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation, 1773-1892 (2007) and Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity (2013). She is working on a monograph tentatively entitled "Civil War Substitutes: How the Military Draft Changed American Literature."
"[This] book stands as an implicit refutation of Whitman's famous claim that 'the real wars will never get into the books' and of Daniel Aaron's more recent description of 'the unwritten war.' More important, it provides numerous points of access for instructors of this growing field." —Randall Fuller, University of Tulsa
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