Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory & the American Civil War

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2002 - History - 301 pages
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During the past decade and a half, scholars have increasingly addressed the relationship of history and memory. Among American historians, David W. Blight has been a pioneer in the field of memory studies, especially on the problems of slavery, race, and the Civil War. In this collection of essays, Blight examines the meanings embedded in the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War, the nature of changing approaches to African American history, and the significance of race in the ways Americans, North and South, black and white, developed historical memories of the nation's most divisive event.

The book as a whole demonstrates several ways to probe the history of memory, to understand how and why groups of Americans have constructed versions of the past in the service of contemporary social needs. Topics range from the writing and thought of Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to a comparison of Abraham Lincoln and Douglass on the level of language and memory. The volume also includes a compelling study of the values of a single Union soldier, an analysis of Ken Burns's PBS series The Civil War, and a retrospective treatment of the distinguished African American historian Nathan I. Huggins.

Taken together, these lucidly written pieces offer a thoroughgoing assessment of the stakes of Civil War memory and their consequences for American race relations. Beyond the Battlefield demonstrates not only why we should preserve and study our Civil War battlefields, but also why we should lift our vision above those landscapes and ponder all the unfinished questions of healing and justice, of racial harmony and disharmony, that still bedevil our society and our historical imagination.


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The Confluence of History and Memory
Frederick Douglasss Autobiographical Art
African Americans and the Coming of the Civil War
Manhood and Freedom in a Union Soldiers Experience
A Relationship in Language Politics and Memory
Frederick Douglass and the Struggle for the Memory of the Civil War
6 A Quarrel Forgotten or a Revolution Remembered? Reunion and Race in the Memory of the Civil War 18751913
7 The Shaw Memorial in the Landscape of Civil War Memory
Battlefields and the Problem of Civil War Memory
The Memory of Emancipation at the Civil War Semicentennial 19111915
Ken Burnss Dialogue with Historians
11 W E B Du Bois and the Struggle for American Historical Memory
12 In Retrospect Nathan Irvin Huggins the Art of History and the Irony of the American Dream
The Riddle of Collective Memory and the American Civil War

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Page 5 - Historian You who celebrate bygones, Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races, the life that has exhibited itself, Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates, rulers and priests...
Page 17 - You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing!

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About the author (2002)

David W. Blight is Class of 1959 Professor of History at Amherst College and author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

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