James McPherson’s Battle Cry after a Quarter Century

AHA Session 76
Society of Civil War Historians 3
Saturday, January 3, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Murray Hill Suite B (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
James M. McPherson, Princeton University
Judith Giesberg, Villanova University
Lesley Gordon, University of Akron
Michael Todd Landis, Tarleton State University
Daniel E. Sutherland, University of Arkansas

Session Abstract

James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) has passed the quarter century mark.  The now-classic text is a standard read in both undergraduate and graduate courses, and McPherson’s analysis and conclusions have influenced generations of scholars.  It is time to take a fresh look at Battle Cry, and this panel has brought together leading historians to offer their critique.  Judith Giesberg at Villanova University will draw on her celebrated research and offer comments on social and women’s history; Daniel Sutherland at the University of Arkansas has published groundbreaking work on guerillas and the Confederate war effort; Lesley Gordon, an expert on military history, is both a Professor of History at the University of Akron and the editor of the journal Civil War History; and Michael Landis, Assistant Professor at Tarleton State University, is a scholar of antebellum partisanship whose forthcoming book, The Northern Democracy (Cornell, 2014), will examine the 1850s.  James McPherson will also be on the panel, offering rebuttals and reflections on his own work.  We anticipate a lively and productive discussion.  The historiography of the Civil War has evolved dramatically in the quarter century since Battle Cry was published, and this panel will explore the changes, trends, and controversies McPherson's classic work made possible.

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