MLA Proseminar: The American Civil War and Its Aftermath
Few events in American history carry the weight of meaning and interpretation of the American Civil War. At that crucial moment, 1861-1865, a war of unprecedented scope drove a process of state building and slave emancipation that ultimately reconfigured the nation and remade the terms of political membership in it. It also left a great deal unsettled in its wake, opening up a battle for cultural and political legitimacy that was waged, often through violence, in the immediate postwar years. This graduate level course invites students to engage a series of issues about nation, state, and citizen presented forcefully in the United States in the context of the Civil War and to think about the nature and significance of that event in the history of the nineteenth-century world. It will use a mix of primary and secondary sources, and draw on texts in history, literature and gender studies to provide students with the broadest possible introduction to the study of culture and politics in this critical period.