Introductions: Why Does the Civil War Era Have a Hold on American Historical (Part 1 of 27)

YaleCourses The Civil War and Reconstruction (HIST 119) Professor Blight offers an introduction to the course. He summarizes some of the course readings, and discusses the organization of the course is discussed. Professor Blight offers some thoughts on the nature of history and the study of history, before moving into a discussion of the reasons for Americans’ enduring fascination with the Civil War. The reasons include: the human passion for epics, Americans’ fondness for redemption narratives, the Civil War as a moment of “racial reckoning,” the fascination with loss and lost causes, interest in military history, and the search for the origins of the modern United States. 00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction 03:09 – Chapter 2. Course Texts and Structure 10:47 – Chapter 3. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Promissory Note” 15:31 – Chapter 4. Books and the Purpose of History 22:00 – Chapter 5. Why Study the Civil War? 38:46 – Chapter 6. Whitman’s “Democracy” and Conclusion Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

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