American Studies Lecture Series 2011 on The American Civil War
It is impossible to understand the United States today without studying the American Civil War (1861-1865).
The American Civil War had such a huge and lasting impact on American society, politics, and culture that, 150 years after it started in 1861, it is a legitimate question to ask if the war was ever finished. In a series of thirteen, weekly guest lectures, scholars from the U.S. the U.K., and the Netherlands will address this larger question as they examine various political, social and cultural-historical aspects of the American Civil War. We will look, for example, at the military aspects of what is often characterized as the first “modern” war as well as at the role the new medium of photography played both during the war and in its remembrance. How did the war affect civilians, especially women, and how did the war eventually destroy the institution of slavery? Moreover, we will study how the Civil War is represented and remembered in American literature, reading, for example, Walt Whitman’s and Herman Melville’s Civil War poetry, Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage, and short stories by Thomas Nelson Page and Charles Chesnutt. Finally, we will consider how Hollywood portrayed the war in movies such as Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, and Glory, how the war is commemorated in battle reenactments, and why, even today, the Confederate flag is still a politically-charged symbol that provokes furious controversy.
Among the internationally renowned Civil War scholars who will come to Leiden to contribute to the series, owing to a generous grant from the U.S. Embassy, are prize-winning Lincoln biographer Richard Carwardine (Oxford); Victoria Bynum (Texas State University), who will speak on unionists in Mississippi; Brian Holden Reid (Kings College London), an expert on Gen. Robert E. Lee; Anne Rubin (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), whose recent research has been on Union General Sherman’s March through the South; Daniel Sutherland (University of Arkansas), who will speak on guerilla warfare; Joanne van der Woude (Harvard), on photography and the culture of mourning in the (post-) Civil War Era; Caroline E. Janney (Purdue Univ.), on the role of white southern women as creators of the Lost Cause tradition; and Adam Fairclough (Leiden) on the Civil War in Hollywood film. Immediately preceding the lectures, documentaries and films on the Civil War will be shown.
The lecture series is offered as part of the minor American Studies and as an elective course (10 ects).
For detailed course description, click here.