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May 27, 2023

Essay 1: Civil War and Reconstruction
Calvo
AMH 2020
Due May 14, 11:59pm
15% of final grade

 

This essays asks students to consider manifestations of American memories of the Civil War and
Reconstruction.
To complete the assignment’s objectives it is important for students to address the topics in a
systematic, well-organized writing format. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
As noted in the module introduction, often times the narratives and beliefs that “laymen and
laywomen” construct about historical events are rooted in the “academic” literature surrounding
that event. That is, the “professional scholarship” that historians have contributed to the
discourse often times “trickle down” into the popular historical imagination.
For this essay, students will complete a couple different tasks.
First, after an introductory paragraph that presents the subject more broadly and what the essay
will attempt to do, students will identify two specific arguments/narratives/beliefs/perspectives
presented by historians about the Civil War and/or Reconstruction. The arguments, narratives,
etc., can be found in the readings organized for the module. It’s important to clearly identify
who the historian is and what their argument is. Students should spend one individual paragraph
discussing in full the historian’s argument. The discussion of two historians’ argument should
fill body paragraphs 1 and 2. One paragraph for each historian (argument/narrative).
Second, students will match the two historians’ arguments identified in body paragraphs 1 and 2
to an image/monument/film/painting/engraving (some sort of cultural expression) and explain in
full exactly how the image, monument, etc. illustrates the argument presented in the
historiography. The second part of the assignment should fill body paragraphs 3 and 4. One
paragraph discussing each work of art and how that work of art expresses the argument.
Finally, a short, formal conclusion that summarizes your findings.
Structure of Essay
For example (use this an organizational model):
Introduction: presentation of subject and description of what your essay intends to do—try to
incorporate some details to give your reader a clue of what to expect in the body paragraphs.
Body Paragraph 1: Let’s say you find the “Lost Cause” narrative interesting. Explain the idea in
full.
Body Paragraph 2: Let’s say you find the “Second Revolution” narrative interesting. Explain the
idea in full.
Body Paragraph 3: You have discovered a clear illustration of the “Lost Cause” narrative in a
monument located somewhere in the South. Explain the message of the monument, the belief
system that the monument is attempting to convey, details about the monument, and most
important, how the monument reflects the “Lost Cause” narrative. Connecting the narrative
expressed in the art, monument, film, etc. to the argument embedded in the “Lost Cause”
narrative is the most important part of the paragraph.
Body Paragraph 4: You have discovered a clear illustration of the “Second Revolution”
narrative/argument in a painting found in a museum. Explain the message of the painting, the
belief system that the painting is attempting to convey, details about the painting, and most
important, how the painting reflects the “Second Revolution” narrative. Connecting the narrative
expressed in the art, monument, film, etc. to the argument embedded in the “Second Revolution”
narrative is the most important part of the paragraph.
The point of the essay is to connect the academic literature to manifestations of historical
memory in popular expressions.
Conclusion: summarize your findings.
6 paragraphs total.
Be practical about your selections, for both categories. Some historian’s arguments are complex
and not easily matched to a monument or painting. Some works of art are not easily matched to
the scholarship.
Use the below urls to learn about cultural expressions of Civil War and Reconstruction
monuments.

Disclaimer: As many of you know, the controversy related to Civil War monuments was central
in the American political discourse not that long ago. Some of the websites below offer a
particular perspective on the subject. Some students might want to explore other websites on the
subject that are not listed here. Be aware of what that perspective is and how it might influence
the articles written about Civil War memory.
Our course is designed, and the readings associated with the first module are intended to
encourage students to recognize that history is filled with many perspectives and that historians
are always debating these perspectives.
The professor/department/university/administration/etc. does not endorse any of the ideas or
arguments associated with any of the historians you will read for this module (or any of the
modules), or any of the perspectives presented in the below websites. Use your own judgment.

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