Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Forthcoming and Noteworthy-- Did Female Authors Change Pre-Civil War Society's Perceptions of Slaves?

Gender and Race in Antebellum Popular Culture, Sarah N. Roth, Cambridge University Press, 314 pages, 14 black and white illustrations 14 tables, $99.00.  [July 2014]

From The Publisher: 
  • Demonstrates that white women had a vital impact on the political landscape of antebellum and Civil War-era America via their influence on popular culture  
  • Offers a fresh new angle on whiteness studies by focusing on the development of race consciousness among middle-class white women in the mid-nineteenth century 
  • Utilizes novels, short stories, plays, and other popular culture media as historical sources
In the decades leading to the Civil War, popular conceptions of African American men shifted dramatically. The savage slave featured in 1830s' novels and stories gave way by the 1850s to the less-threatening humble black martyr. This radical reshaping of black masculinity in American culture occurred at the same time that the reading and writing of popular narratives were emerging as largely feminine enterprises.

In a society where women wielded little official power, white female authors exalted white femininity, using narrative forms such as autobiographies, novels, short stories, visual images, and plays, by stressing differences that made white women appear superior to male slaves. This book argues that white women, as creators and consumers of popular culture media, played a pivotal role in the demasculinization of black men during the antebellum period, and consequently had a vital impact on the political landscape of antebellum and Civil War–era America through their powerful influence on popular culture.

CWL: Though pricey for a private collection, your local librarian will be able find you a copy through inter-library loan.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New and Noteworthy---The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning Is Both Incisive and Accessible

The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning, Lawrence A. Kreiser and Randal Allred, editors, University of Kentucky Press, 257  pages, bibliographic notes, index, $40.00.

The eleven essays, introduction and afterward offered in The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning are each scholarly, informative and entertaining.  The perspectives and focus of the fourteen authors' essays are both broad and unique. A casual bookstore browser may think that it is another book about reenactors for reenactors but that would certainly be a mistaken impression. The essays chosen and edited by Kreiser and Allred are compelling for the questions they address.

What do we know of how Civil War veterans came to psychological terms with the aftereffects of killing? Where Confederate amputees viewed as whole men who could be married? What value did veterans and early visitors to Chickamauga battlefield park during 1890s place on relics they found there?

If 80% of all Americans receive no historical training beyond high school, then what success can the Gettysburg National Military Park have in placing slavery into the battle and its legacy?  Is the Civil Preservation Trust's rebranding itself as the Civil War Trust, its investment in Internet web pages and mobile phone applications eliminating actual visits to the battlefields that the foundation has preserved?

What does the history of Civil War board games tell us about what the popular culture views as entertainment and hobby? Have Lincoln movies homogenized the president who confessed his own childhood was among the simple annals of the poor? Has Lincoln the lawyer become both a vampire slayer and a pragmatic emancipator in the popular mind?

Does the film Glory offer an honest depiction of Civil War combat? There is indeed one essay on reenactors. How do today's Good Ol' Rebel reenactors understand racism, slavery and their Lost Cause?

Clear, concise and cogent, the essays are both incisive for the scholar and accessible to the general reader. The bibliographic notes appear at the conclusion of each essay and encourage readers and graduate student to realize the dynamic nature of the field pursue new avenues of research in popular culture.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New and Huh?---Angels of The Battlefield and John Beatty's Civil War Memoir

Angels of the Battlefield: The Citizen-Soldier or Memoirs of a Volunteer, John Beatty (Author), Eric Paul Erickson (Photographer, CreateSpace, 322 pp, $13.95

Excerpt: "As we marched through the city my attention was directed to a sign bearing the inscription, in large black letters, 'NEGROES BOUGHT AND SOLD.' We have known, to be sure, that negroes were bought and sold, like cattle and tobacco, but it, nevertheless, awakened new, and not by any means agreeable, sensations to see the humiliating fact announced on the broad side of a commercial house. These signs must come down."

The classic memoir of the man who rose from private to brigadier general during the Civil War and went on to serve in the US House of Representatives. From The TOTC Press Angels of the Battlefield collection, bound with the stunning cover art photography of Eric Paul Erickson, this classic of American memoirs gives an inside look into life as a soldier during the Civil War.

CWL has no idea what is going on here. John Beatty's memoir was published in the Time-Life Civil War Library about 25 years ago. Has it been puffed up with color photographs of hot chicks?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New and Noteworthy---Civil War Campaigner, Number 1 April/May 2010

Civil War Campaigner is a new publication that is available in a print or digital edition that bears a striking resemblance in layout style and editorial content to Civil War Historian magazine which gave up the ghost late last year.

Covering a wide range of topics related to Civil War era cultures, the magazine benefits both military and civilian reenactors. Number 1 April/May articles cover the material, military, and political cultures of the era. Also, reenacting on and the preservation of historic sites is a focus. The magazine has photographs on nearly every page; there is a single page with text only. That's helpful when the article is how to load and fire a musket from a prone position, clay smoking pipes of the 1860s and Federal painted haversacks. Many of the photographs of textiles and the smoking pipes are large and the details are visible.

Unfortunately there are instances when references are incomplete or non-existent. In Setting forth information on Antietam battlefield farms, the articles' bibliography cites newspapers with no dates and an essay from a collection of essays. If a reader wished to locate Elise Manning-Sterling's essay on the cultural impact of the battle of Antietam battle on an agrarian landscape, there is no indication that her work appears in Archaeological Perspectives on the American Civil War edited by Clarence R. Geier and Stephen R. Potter (2000).

In its 105 pages there is little advertising. Several of the articles appear to be brief but are loaded with details. In particular the article on the 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago is allocated two pages of which about 1/3 is text. Reading the article, a reenactor will be able to gather and grasp the pertinent facts and be able have a brief conversation on the topic during a living history event. So though short the article seems satisfactory regarding the intent of the magazine.

Civil War Campaginer magazine's annual subscription for six issues is $14.95. Visit the website. CWL is a pleased subscriber.

Text by CWL.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New This Month---The Hated President

The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President Larry Tagg, Savas Beatie Publishing, 30 photos and illustrations, 456 pages, $32.95

Today, Abraham Lincoln is a beloved American icon, widely considered to be our best president. It was not always so. Larry Tagg's The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln is the first study of its kind to concentrate on what Lincoln's contemporaries actually thought of him during his lifetime. Be forewarned: your preconceived notions are about to be shattered.

Torn by civil war, the era in which our sixteenth president lived and governed was the most rough-and-tumble in the history of American politics. The violence of the criticism aimed at Lincoln by the great men of his time on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line is simply startling. Indeed, the breadth and depth of the spectacular prejudice against him is often shocking for its cruelty, intensity, and unrelenting vigor. The plain truth is that Mr. Lincoln was deeply reviled by many who knew him personally, and by hundreds of thousands who only knew of him.

Boisterous and venomous enough to be good entertainment, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln rests upon a wide foundation of research that includes years of searching through contemporary newspapers. Tagg includes extensive treatment of the political context that begat Lincoln's predicament, riding with the president to Washington, and walking with him through the bleak years of war and up to and beyond assassination. Throughout, Tagg entertains with a lively writing style, outstanding storytelling verve, and an unconventional, against-the-grain perspective that is sure to delight readers of all stripes.

Lincoln's humanity has been unintentionally trivialized by some historians and writers who have hidden away the real man in a patina of bronze. Once readers learn the truth of how others viewed him, they will better understand the man he was, and how history is better viewed through a long-distance lens than contemporaneously.

The bicentennial of Lincoln's birth will be celebrated in 2009 and will be the biggest year ever for public interest in Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission created and funded by Congress will "inform the public about the impact Abraham Lincoln had on the development of our nation." The year will also witness the release of Steven Spielberg's long-awaited movie on President Lincoln. Of all the Lincoln books slated for publication, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln will be the "must-read" title for general readers and scholars alike.

Born in Lincoln, Illinois, Larry Tagg graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A bass player/singer of world renown, Larry co-founded and enjoyed substantial commercial success with "Bourgeois Tagg" in the mid-1980s. He went on to play bass for Todd Rundgren, Heart, Hall and Oates, and other acts. He currently teaches high school English and drama in Sacramento, California. Larry is the author of the bestselling book The Generals of Gettysburg, a selection of the Military Book Club.

CWL: Larry Tagg's The Generals of Gettysburg is an essential book for aspiring Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide exam takers. CWL looks forward to putting this on the summer reading stack.

For a Reader's Review: James Durney

Text Source: Savas Beatie Publishing

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CWL--Contested Historical Landscape: Gallagher on The Civil War in Contemporary Films and Art

"Introduction" in Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War, Gary Gallagher, University of North Carolina Press, 2008, pp. 1-16.

Interpretative traditions created by the war's participants have appeared in popular culture since the 1960 Civil War centennial. The Lost Cause Tradition describes the Civil War as a nation-building experiment by the South as a patriotic and admirable struggle against a monolithic North and not as a slave-holders' rebellion. The importance of slavery in the secession movement is minimized and the importance of the original intent of the Constitution is elevated.

The Union Cause Tradition frames the war as an effort to maintain a democratic republic in the face of the slaveholders' treason that threatened the Founders' republic and the future of democracy in a world that was still ruled by kings and queens. The Emancipation Cause Tradition views the war as primarily as struggle to liberate 4 million slaves/unpaid workers and remove the negative influences of those invested in slavery, such as the slaveholders and to a degree 'doughface' Northern Democrats.

The Reconciliation Cause Tradition, best represented by the 1993 film 'Gettysburg', extols American virtues that both sides held and manifested during the war. This view exalts the restored nation and dismisses the role of African-Americans during and after the war. Elements of these traditions are held in common. The Union and Emancipation Traditions despise the Confederacy. The Reconciliation and Lost Cause Traditions believe the Confederacy was a valid expression of American democratic republicanism.

Gallagher's book focuses upon the expressions of these four traditions since 1985. He views the post-Centennial era of 1965 to 1985 as lacking in expressions of the Civil War in popular culture. The resurgence of popular expressions of the Civil War stems from several conditions. The chronological distance from the Viet Nam War, the elevation of patriotism during the Reagan presidency, the promotion of the 125th/1988 anniversary of the war, and the surprise of 12,000 reenactors performing for an audience of 140,000 spectators at Gettysburg each advanced Civil War themes into popular culture. Galvanizing incidents include the Disney Corporation's commercial assault on the Manassas National Military Park and the commercial success of James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom; both occurred in 1988.

Coverage of these last three events in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today, as well as U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, suggested that 1988 was emotionally charged for history buffs. Media programming which both cultivated the existing market and expanded public interest in the American Civil War was the 1990 PBS series The Civil War that was created by Ken Burns. Eleven one-hour segments with 40 million viewers jolted both the imagination and wallets of Civil War buffs and those unaware of the war. The companion book massively promoted; Civil War sites of the National Park Service saw more visitors.

Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative and Michael Shaara's Killer Angels became a bestsellers though were written during the decades of 195os, 1960s and 1970s. Before Ken Burn's series was aired, Shelby Foote's trilogy sold about 15,000 in 15 years; in six months after the conclusion of Ken Burn's series 100,000 copies of Foote's trilogy was sold. The dormant Confederate battle flag, frequently part of state flags and high school halftime programs, became offensive in the eyes of many in the 1990s. The release in 1989 of the film Glory brought the valor of African-Americans soldiers into popular culture.

In Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War, Gallagher examines 14 films which have Civil War themes and were made between 1989 and 2006. " . . . films undeniably teach Americans about the past---to a lamentable degree in the minds of many academic historians," states Gallagher. Additionally, Gallagher reviews 2,750 commercial advertisements from 1962 through 2006 in Civil War themed magazines.

Gallagher found two key themes in commercial films and advertisements. Hollywood is increasingly shunning The Lost Cause Tradition and the Emancipation Tradition is becoming more influential. Conversely, in the Civil War art marketplace The Lost Cause Tradition is predominant. A second key theme is the weak presence of The Union Tradition in movies and art. Disappearance of The Union Cause is indicative of the loss of nationalism as a motivating force in American culture.