History | American Civil War-Perspectives
A300 | 0384 | O'Hara


In 1861, the United States entered into a bloody civil war that
lasted 4 years and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and
millions of dollars worth of destruction. This conflict not only
forcibly resolved long festering questions over slavery, politics,
economics, and sovereignty, it also ushered in a new era of total
war with widespread devastation, and it served as a crisis of gender
and conscience for both men and women anxious to prove their
bravery, loyalty, and courage. At the same time, people struggled to
understand the scale and significance of the conflict and make
meaning out of both the war and its aftermath.

This course is a study of not only the politics and battles of the
American Civil War but also the social and cultural history of the
conflict. Through various themes we will explore how the war
altered, re-established, or otherwise importantly defined the social
lives of Americans. We will study how people came to terms with the
social realities of warfare, how the war altered both homefronts,
and how new cultural understandings of technology, religion, race,
and citizenship emerged from the war. In addition to the conflict
itself, we will examine how following generations came to understand
the history, narrative, and significance of the conflict and how
they have recreated and remembered the war. As suggested in the
title of the course, we will be examining the history of the Civil
War from a variety of perspectives.