Blood and Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 / Edition 1

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During the Civil War, its devastating aftermath, and the decades following, many southern white women turned to writing as a way to make sense of their experiences. Combining varied historical and literary sources, Sarah Gardner argues that women served as guardians of the collective memory of the war and helped define and reshape southern identity.

Gardner considers such well-known authors as Caroline Gordon, Ellen Glasgow, and Margaret Mitchell and also recovers works by lesser-known writers such as Mary Ann Cruse, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Varina Davis. In fiction, biographies, private papers, educational texts, historical writings, and through the work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, southern white women sought to tell and preserve what they considered to be the truth about the war. But this truth varied according to historical circumstance and the course of the conflict. Only in the aftermath of defeat did a more unified vision of the southern cause emerge. Yet Gardner reveals the existence of a strong community of Confederate women who were conscious of their shared effort to define a new and compelling vision of the southern war experience.

In demonstrating the influence of this vision, Gardner highlights the role of the written word in defining a new cultural identity for the postbellum South.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A prodigious work of scholarship."
American Historical Review

"Cogently argued and beautifully written. . . .Blood & Irony is an important book that will undoubtedly stimulate much debate in the years to come."
Georgia Historical Quarterly

A welcome addition to a new body of scholarship.

Civil War Book Review

"Gardner accomplishes her task with remarkable sensitivity, examining the complexities of women's writings without losing sight of their reactionary tendencies.

Laura F. Edwards, The North Carolina Historical Review"

A welcome addition to the growing scholarship on women and the creation of historical memory.

Civil War History

A very readable account of the Southern female writers who for decades after the Civil War entertained American readers.

Washington Times

An impressively researched and thoroughly contextualized argument. . . . Highly recommended.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807857670
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 848,654
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah E. Gardner is associate professor of history at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

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Table of Contents


Introduction. Everywoman Her Own Historian
Chapter 1. Pen and Ink Warriors, 1861-1865
Chapter 2. Countrywomen in Captivity, 1865-1877
Chapter 3. A View from the Mountain, 1877-1895
Chapter 4. The Imperative of Historical Inquiry, 1895-1905
Chapter 5. Righting the Wrongs of History, 1905-1915
Chapter 6. Moderns Confront the Civil War, 1916-1936
Epilogue. Everything That Rises Must Converge


Loula Kendall Rogers, 1865
Loula Kendall Rogers
Illustration from Chapin's Fitz-Hugh St. Clair
Illustration from Chapin's Fitz-Hugh St. Clair
Illustration from Chapin's Fitz-Hugh St. Clair
Illustration from Williams's Who's the Patriot?
Mary Noailles Murfree
Illustration from Glasgow's Deliverance
General James and Helen Dortch Longstreet, 1901
Ellen Glasgow
Illustration from Glasgow's Voice of the People
Illustration from Glasgow's The Battle-Ground
Illustration from Glasgow's Deliverance
Mary Johnston
Illustration from Johnston's The Long Roll

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