The Civil War in American Culture

The Civil War in American Culture

The Civil War in American Culture

The Civil War in American Culture

Synopsis

The Civil War is an event of great cultural significance, impacting upon American literature, film, music, electronic media, the marketplace and public performance. This book takes an innovative approach to this great event in American history, exploring its cultural origins and enduring cultural legacy. It focuses upon the place of the Civil War across the broad sweep of American cultural forms and practices and reveals important links between historical events and contemporary culture. The first chapter introduces a discussion of ante-bellum culture and the part cultural forces played in the sectional crisis that exploded into full-blown war in 1861. Subsequent chapters focus on particular themes, appropriations, interpretations and manifestations of the War as they have appeared in American culture. Particular topics include:
• Confederate revivalism
• the cultural uses of martyrdom
• the centrality of race
• the War's destabilisation of gender norms
• the War's place in virtual and transnational cultureThe final chapter explores the Civil War's alternative histories and the cultural meanings of the word 'Appomattox'. The reader is presented with an accessible, concise discussion of the Civil War in its many cultural contexts. Key Features:
• multidisciplinary study of the cultural legacy of the Civil War: in literature, film, music, computer games, the internet, role play, material culture, and civic demonstration
• situates race at the heart of the discussion and challenges the culture of denial in which race and slavery are marginalised in Civil War remembrance
• written in a lively narrative voice, deliberately jargon-free
• offers innovative readings of well-known and unexplored cultural material

Excerpt

I take the risk of introducing this study by admitting that at the age of ten years old I wrote my first and only novel, a story about a werewolf who wins the American Civil War for the Union. By day he is a common Federal soldier. By night, when the moon is full, he charges through the Confederate positions and tears them to shreds. Fortunately the manuscript was lost long ago, but since then I have had occasion to reflect upon the impulses that led to such a bizarre fusion of history and cultural expression (such as it was) – in this case, Civil War history with popular horror.

Other, more accomplished, writers have acted on a similar impulse: Harry Turtledove's 1992 sci-fi novel, The Guns of the South, has a band of time-travelling Afrikaners from the year 2013, equipped with AK-47s, winning the Civil War for Robert E. Lee. Abraham Lincoln has been beamed aboard the starship Enterprise and into the company of Marilyn Monroe and the Simpsons, while Ann McMillan's Civil War mysteries – to date, Dead March (1998), Angel Trumpet (1999), Civil Blood (2001) and Chickahominy Fever (2003) – present the suspenseful dramas of a medical sleuth team who owe as much to television's E.R. and Quincy, M.E. as to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. the Civil War dovetails with Homeric epic and romance in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (1997) and Anthony Minghella's film of the novel (2003), while, in examples too numerous to list, the boundary between the genres of the war film and the western is often imperceptible when it comes to the Civil War.

The struggle between the Blue and the Gray continues to be played out in popular monthly magazines and on computers and PlayStations both in and outside of the United States. It has travelled around the globe and has been understood and accepted as an event of great cultural significance, whether in film, literature or battlefield re-enactment. the cultural legacies of the Civil War have been expressed in debates over . . .

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