Paradoxical Pedagogies: Civil War Narratives and the Progressive State, 1890-1917

TitleParadoxical Pedagogies: Civil War Narratives and the Progressive State, 1890-1917
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsVincent, Jonathan
Book TitleThe Health of the State: Modern US War Narrative and the American Political Imagination, 1890-1964
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York

This chapter considers Civil War representation in turn-of-the-century America as it helped acclimate citizens to a culture of social regulation and incorporation over the earlier esteem for liberal voluntarism and laissez-faire. Coextensive with the progressive reform movement, dramatizations of military discipline and collective loyalty became a mnemonic for America’s social rejuvenation, equating wartime concessions to sacrifice, regimentation, and professionalization—Northern and Southern—as examples of a maturing, masculinizing national character, an “identity of interest.” Figuring war as “reality,” and thus conveying the anticipatory readiness to struggle with such continuously oncoming ordeals, Progressive Era militarization convened the necessary futurity, as a temporality of self, able to eschew the citizen-soldier tradition for the promises of public incorporation in an expansive national “wholeness.”

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