Preview the Contents for June 2024

Preview the Contents for June 2024

Volume 14, Number 2
June 2024


Kate Masur and Gregory Downs

Jase Sutton

“We Died Here Obedient to Her Laws”: The Reception of Sparta in the Lost Cause and Confederate Memorialization”

Although scholars have explored many aspects of the Lost Cause, few have focused on the presence of classical analogies in its many iterations. Citing Confederate monuments, memorial speeches, and other sources, this essay explores previously under-analyzed classical reception in Confederate memorialization. It argues that white southerners invoked the ancient Spartans frequently to reinforce specific elements of the Lost Cause mythology. Comparing Confederate soldiers to Spartans, especially in the context of the Battle of Thermopylae, upheld a key Lost Cause belief in the superiority of the Confederate soldier while also deflecting blame for the Confederacy’s military loss solely onto the factor of overwhelming U.S. numbers and arms. Former Confederates also identified Confederate women as Spartan to emphasize their loyalty and sacrifice to the South during the war—another major aspect of the Lost Cause. By referencing the classical world in such a manner, postwar white southerners continued a rich antebellum tradition of citing antiquity to defend conservative southern values.


Sarah Handley Cousins

Disability in the Civil War Era: A Roundtable

This essay features a discussion between several scholars of disability in the Civil War era on the major themes and issues within this small field. The panelists, including both historians and literature scholars, reflect the interdisciplinary nature of disability studies and make the case for why disability analysis is critical to understanding of the Civil War era. Disability, they argue, enriches our studies of slavery and freedom, military service, federal power and bureaucracy, the home front and veteranhood. The panelists also consider paths for future research, such as increasing our use of material history and exploring disabled lives during Reconstruction.



Brian Luskey

The Union’s Culture Industry

The cultural history of the Civil War North has flourished over the last two decades. Scholars have impeccably analyzed wartime texts and images to clarify northern citizens’ and soldiers’ shared ideological and emotional commitments. Yet these historians have not fully reckoned with the interconnected nature of culture production in genres such as blackface minstrelsy, lithography, illustrated newspapers, photography, and theater through which northerners made, circulated, used, and experienced culture commodities. This economic system of culture production often created or illuminated social conflict and ambiguous cultural meaning. The culture industry, a concept that has animated debate among historians of popular culture for decades, holds great potential for Civil War historians to open up new perspectives on the experiences of Union soldiers and citizens and the ways in which they did cultural work to make the meanings of class and self-making, race and emancipation, gender and the household, and the war itself.