More than any other historical episode, the American Civil War on the one hand laid bare the tensions and rifts of the country and on the other hand uneasily cemented its national course, character, and unity. It is therefore not surprising that it has spawned an enormous amount of literary treatments which continue to hold interest. In this seminar we will have a look at some of the most significant texts related to the war throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and analyze how the war has been evoked for a variety of different effects and purposes. To this end we will read and discuss propaganda writings prior to and during the conflict, the sobering poetic reflections of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville right after the war, perspectives of female civilians, nurses, and soldiers, romances of reconciliation during the Reconstruction, the naturalistic masterworks of Stephen Crane and Ambrose Bierce in the late 19th century, the defiant works of the Southern Agrarians in the early 20th century, and late 20th century historical fiction.
- Dozent/in: Martin Holtz