february/march project: confederacy mythology & the dunning school

I’ve been actively following and participating in the Ta-Nehisi blog at the Atlantic for the last eight months or so in the most thoughtful, in-depth discussions of slavery and the Civil War I’ve ever found on the web.  Check out the discussion and buy a copy of their special Civil War Sesquicentennial Editon (newstands only!)

While the Reconstruction talk has been slim (thusfar) I felt like I should take a hard look at the revisionist history that influenced so much of Americans’ feelings about that time and still carries today. So I’m not really looking to learn about the Reconstruction Era itself (see Eric Foner’s work) but rather to study the heyday of the Lost Cause myth-making and national amnesia.  I drop the term “Dunning School” as a shorthand to the “Birth of a Nation” feelings about Reconstruction, so I think it’s high time I actually read the book.

Here’s the reading list for FEB:

The Leopard’s Spots – Thomas Dixon 1902

The Clansman – Thomas Dixon 1905

Reconstruction, Political and Economic 1865-1877 1907

The Tragic Era: The Revolution after Lincolm 1929

The first two books are the notorious, racist inspiration for Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (which I have seen twice: once in a rare revival showing in Seattle and once in a film class as an undergraduate).  I’m curious about the actual books themselves both as distorted history and popular fiction of the time.

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2 responses to “february/march project: confederacy mythology & the dunning school

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