History | American Civil War
A369 | 12481 | Bennett
Above class open to undergraduates and EDUC MA's only
Since the end of the Civil War in 1865, Americans have been
horrified and fascinated by the conflict. The war radically changed
the lives of people in the United States—more than 600,000 people
died, the institution of slavery was abolished, and warring states
had to learn to function as a unified country. Beginning immediately
after the war, various groups used the memory of the Civil War for
their own purposes. From emancipated slaves to the United Daughters
of the Confederacy, from courthouse monuments to Gone with the Wind,
from the Lost Cause to “good ol’ boys,” people have debated what the
Civil War meant in the past and what it means today.
This course will explore the causes and issues of the American Civil
War, the experience of war for soldiers and those at home, and the
continuing relevance and changing meanings of the war in American
society. How do stories about the past influence how people think
about their own lives and their place in society? Why do symbols and
images of the Civil War continue to evoke an emotional response?
Course content will consider issues of race, citizenship, and
regional identity. Although topics will include some military
history, the course will focus primarily on the cultural, social,
and political ramifications of events.
The class will help students learn to think historically, to
understand how the past influences the present and the future, to
critically analyze documents and images, and to present ideas
clearly. Required readings include two short texts; additional
readings will be available on e-reserves. Students will be evaluated
through two exams, response papers, in-class writing assignments,
and active class participation.