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A Late Encounter with the Civil War

Michael Kreyling

Publication Year: 2014

In A Late Encounter with the Civil War, Michael Kreyling confronts the changing nature of our relationship to the anniversary of the war that nearly split the United States. When significant anniversaries arrive in the histories of groups such as families, businesses, or nations, their members set aside time to formally remember their shared past. This phenomenon—this social or collective memory—reveals as much about a group’s sense of place in the present as it does about the events of the past. So it is with the Civil War.

As a nation, we have formally remembered two Civil War anniversaries, the 50th and 100th. We are now in the complicated process of remembering the war for a third time. Kreyling reminds us that we were a different “we” for each of the earlier commemorations, and that “we” are certainly different now, and not only because the president in office for the 150th anniversary represents a member of the race for whose emancipation from slavery the war was waged.

These essays explore the conscious and unconscious mechanisms by which each era has staged, written, and thought about the meaning of the Civil War. Kreyling engages the not-quite-conscious agendas at work in the rituals of remembering through fiction, film, graphic novels, and other forms of expression. Each cultural example wrestles with the current burden of remembering: What are we attempting to do with a memory that, to many, seems irrelevant or so far in the past as to be almost irretrievable?

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

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pp. vii-xii

While I was revising the lectures that would become the basis for this book and my visit to Mercer University in October 2012, I was living on the coast of California, about 120 miles north of San Francisco. It was summer, not a summer of the Deep or the Middle South that I knew but a summer of Sonoma County, California, which I had not known...

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CHAPTER ONE: Remembering the Civil War in the Era of Race Suicide

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pp. 1-27

We use personal and collective memory of the past to help us negotiate the present, to determine who we are by reminding ourselves of who we have been. And those who study both types of memory tell us that we are used by these negotiations as much as we use them. My focus here is what can be referred to as collective, civic, or ritualized...

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CHAPTER TWO: The Last Living Memory

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pp. 28-58

Over fifty- three thousand veterans of the Civil War registered to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1913. Twenty- five years later, in 1938 at the seventy-fifth reunion of the armies who fought at Gettsyburg, approximately 2,000 of the 8,000 to 10,000 living Civil War veterans...

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CHAPTER THREE: The Civil War and Its Afterlife

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pp. 59-94

In the first volume of Will Shetterly and Vince Stone’s Captain Confederacy (2007), the eponymous superhero is a strapping blond hunk in tights, with the Confederate battle flag stretched across his rippling pectorals. He looks like a pickup truck in red, white, and blue spandex. His partner is blonde and buxom Miss Dixie, a Confederate...


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pp. 95-106


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pp. 107-109

E-ISBN-13: 9780820346410
E-ISBN-10: 0820346411
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820346199

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures
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OCLC Number: 871061386
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Late Encounter with the Civil War

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Centennial celebrations, etc.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Historiography.
  • Collective memory -- United States.
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