07:20 PM to 10:00 PM R
David King Hall 2054
Section Information for Spring 2018
Reconstruction Era scholars have recently moved away from Eric Foner’s notion that postwar US policy in the South was an unfinished revolution. Newer interpretations are more pessimistic, and illustrate less faith in the idea that change can happen quickly or that entrenched power can be un-entrenched effectively in a generation or less. In the introduction to the The World the Civil War Made, editors Kate Masur and Greg Downs lay out many of the ways that current scholarship has illustrated the complexities and contradictions inherent in the study of the Reconstruction Era. It was an era in which the federal government became increasingly powerful, but also one in which people on the ground, including former slave and rebels, western settlers, and Natives were able to resist or overthrow its actions. The rise of liberal individualism and the freedom of contract were hallmarks of the period, but recent scholarship has shown how events on the ground resulted in more regionally focused, pragmatic understandings of rights. We will take these complexities and inconsistencies as our starting point and trace them through the late nineteenth century as we survey some of the best new works, as well as classic texts in the time period.
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