Recommendations

Hey everyone! Today I just want to share with y’all a few other Civil War bloggers that I enjoy reading. So, if you wanna learn about aspects of the Civil War apart from education go check them out!

The first blogger is Yeezy who focuses on the various contemporary effects that the confederate flag has on the United States. They discuss many different aspects of the flag as it relates to modern culture, including films, music, and sports.

The next blogger is Girl from Nowhere. This blogger wrote about specific films that primarily address slavery. I enjoyed this blog, not only because it discussed films, but the writer was able to portray their own enthusiasm for the topic which made me want to read more.

The last blogger that I recommend you guys go check out is civilwar0226. I really like this blog because they discuss a lot of recent issues with racial tension in the US. The writer presents the information in a way that draws the reader in and makes them feel more connected with the story.

-Leya

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A Self-Study

For my last post, I have a confession.

At the start of this blog series, I was a lost writer. My original interest was not wholly genuine and the research was largely self-seeking. I wanted to see how differences in history lessons today could be linked to rifts leftover from the Civil War partially because I thought it was my most intriguing idea and partially because I thought it could be easy.

The topic I began to run with was huge and quickly led me to a crossroads with many paths to choose from. My first posts were a little scattered as I struggled to carve out a clear focus. Some hardly dipped below the surface of what my eventual analysis post would cover. I do not mean to discredit their content – I think the broader topics in my short posts (school segregation, teacher salaries, and dialect maps) add to the qualitative aesthetic of my analysis. But a goal of mine then became to use this messy beginning to create a blog with a synergetic nature – where the analysis only has the most impact when viewed in light of the other posts. However, as this analysis post approached, my position as a writer began to shift – I was starting to become uncomfortable.

I watched as my ideas connected  and sparked and soon found myself entrenched in some heavy articles. The differences in educational standards I pursued led me to some of the darkest parts of our country, places I feel ashamed on behalf of, including the websites for hate groups that actively seek to stomp out the voices of the weak in place of fear and bigotry. Other research began to surface that showed how the nation I am living in is not the one I thought it was, that many more people are affected by classroom outcomes than I had realized.

It was then that it happened.

In the midst of research on school diversity and teaching outcomes, I found myself in the story. I was caught off guard as I realized the issues I’ve covered aren’t happening in some far off land or distant place, but they are happening to me, they are happening to us. In the midst of all the stories and studies and articles and interviews it is so easy to take myself out of the equation, to view the research from the outside, and then be able to walk away from it. But this blog has made me challenge exactly that. It made me question, deeply, who I am as a person, and more than that: not only as a person, but as a middle-class, white male in America. In all honestly I think so little about some of these problems that have shaped the lives of those around me. With everything I’ve learned, I can no longer be the boy blinded by his upbringing, but must be the one who is aware of the very real issues around him. While I cannot entirely attribute this blog to my newfound understanding of my position of privilege, I can wholeheartedly say that it has left an unexpected impact on me.

I started out with goals larger and far more general than I had realized at the time; because even the way that students are taught about the Civil War is connected to the actual war itself. That dark moment in our history is not through – yet. I have given all of this to my readers, messages bottled up in posts and tossed into the vastness of the Internet, in the blind hope that something I’ve written will strike them in such a way that they too will find themselves. I understand the blogging world a little better now: the urgency, the focus on identity, the way bloggers lay their posts out in a beautiful, unsuspecting array. They all have a message to share and blogging is a way to do just that.

This platform has allowed me to create an inviting tone writing as some silly persona, but make no mistake that the language and concision I use is by accident. It is to convey my single, clear message: Our education system today breeds students who are susceptible to some of the compelling arguments made by the worst of the racists. We need to reform it so that our students, our future, do not leave as victims of murky fabrications, but can walk away shining through the darkness with truth.

(Photo courtesy)

 

Hands Still Raised – Implications

Up to now, the focus of my project has been to understand how just one part of our shared history is taught differently in classrooms of the United States. What I haven’t answered is where exactly a discrepancy in the cause of the Civil War leaves us. You may be wondering how such seemingly minute details squeezed between textbook pages about battles fought so long ago could have any relevance today – and you have all the right to. What type of effect could be produced when two teachers give slightly different interpretations to students on the subject?

Unfortunately, it seems to be a large one. Combined with the myth of the Lost Cause, the fight for “states’ rights” has become a launching pad that white supremacist and neo-Confederate political groups to hinge upon. They are able to build upon and intensify the educational rift, emerging even now as Confederate sympathizer groups who refuse to let the conflict come to an end. Presenting American students with a fractured view of our history allows for bad actors to divide us even today.

So, you may be wondering, do your textbooks encourage white supremacists to rally and protest for the Confederacy still today?

No.

Are they playing a part in the larger issues of race in America?

Yes.

(Picture courtesy)

Self-Analysis

At the beginning of this blog project, I set out to look into the negative impacts that the Civil War had on education during the Civil War. As I began researching my topic further, I realized that there were also many positive effects of the Civil War on education. Investigating both the positive and the negative effects on education allowed me to discuss a broader range of aspects related to education. Writing for this blog has improved certain aspects of both my writing and research capabilities.

Focusing on my writing, this blog project has decreased my tendency to repeat information within one post. Rather than stating an idea then making it clear later, I learned to make my point clear to the reader within one sentence. This helped with the concision of the information that I used to explain my topic to the readers. The research process taught me how to narrow down information that I wanted to use in the blog. I became less focused on finding articles that pertained exactly to my topic which allowed me to look at the broad topic of an article and find out how it related to my research.

Overall, this blog project taught me to scrutinize one topic and find various dimensions to it to discuss. Although my topic went in a different direction than I originally thought it would go, I was able to look at more than just one aspect of education during the Civil War. I think that if I had more time with the topic, I could have further examined the effects that the Civil War had on education as it pertains to today. I only touched on this connection briefly, but I think that there are many aspects to it.

-Leya

Hasta la Vista: A Self-Analysis Post

Going into this blog, I really only knew of Birth of a Nation and 12 Years a Slave in regards to Civil War film. Obviously I knew that other films about the Civil War existed, but I did not know in what capacity they existed in. By that I mean, I did not know the full realm of topics these movies covered. Birth of a Nation is famously inaccurate throughout the entirety of the movie and is credited by many for the re-birth of the Ku Klux Klan. In the more recent years, 12 Years a Slave provided an almost 180 flip in accuracy and quality. But there are many movies in between the two endpoints I based my analysis on. In the early and mid 20th century, the films made in the attempt to portray the time period of the Civil War were racist. They were racist in the story they told and how they chose to tell it. Birth of a Nation was not the only movie that was like this either. Other well known examples would Gone with the Wind and Cold Mountain. However, as time progressed I learned that filmmakers began to tell the other side of the Civil War. Not only did I learn a great deal about how the Civil War has been represented in film, I also learned how to watch a movie analytically. I learned how to be specific in where to look for evidence of my theory. I began to understand how to watch in a movie for the important themes and details filmmakers do not always bring to light. I really enjoyed this project because I think I really learned how to search for sources and how to search within those sources for the most relevant and valuable information.This project showed me how truly segregated our country was in the early 20th century and how racist the film industry remained for so many years. It also made me value the art of a great film even more than I did prior to this project.

thnks fr th mmrs – A Self-Reflection

First and foremost, I would like to say that this was a very eye-opening project, and one that I really enjoyed!

Over the course of this blog project, I feel like I was able to hone down on my writing skills as well as my ability to appeal to a broader audience. I think I was able to achieve this in the ways I structured the posts, that being my short posts focusing on one specific artist/photographer and my long post being a more in depth analysis of how art was influenced by the Civil war in general and vice versa. In structuring the posts this way, I believe I was able to give the readers a good mix of material that related to the Civil War and yet was different enough each week to keep it interesting.

In continuation, I feel that my research skills improved as well throughout the course of this project. Due to the type of posts I was creating, I had to research information for every post, not just the long ones, and in doing so I was able to learn more about my topic that I maybe otherwise would not have. In researching, I also learned more about how to glean out information from scholarly sources that were different from the straight research articles I was used to. Since my topic focuses heavily on art, many of my sources were actually artists statements derived from museum themselves, such as the MET and the SAM, so I had to really cultivate my skills of extracting necessary information without getting caught up in the details of each piece.

In addition, the use of the analysis also helped me tremendously in cultivating concise yet powerful writing skills as well as allowing me to make an argument on a topic that I got to choose, and was therefore passionate about. However, that also came with its struggles, as due to my immense love of art, I found it difficult to step back and write to a general audience. In the beginning I struggled with this, as I tended to go overly in depth with meanings behind details within paintings, (which I found fascinating but soon learned that not everyone else did), as displayed in my first short post “weekly spotlight: Winslow Homer.” I soon realized that I was writing more for myself and with my own interests in mind rather than trying to appeal to a general audience, and so I changed by angle of approach. Instead of babbling about art and how amazing it was to me, I tried to show the audience and let the images speak for itself. I began adding more images to each post, in an attempt to draw in the reader more, and added less analysis about the picture itself but instead wrote about how the picture was received by society during the time. I think that in doing this I bored the reader less, and (hopefully) caused them to if not get excited over the power of art, to at least understand its importance in causing change. I think I was able to accomplish this with my analysis post, “Reality Check: How Art and Photography Shaped the Civil War,” and in my implications post as well.

Overall, this project was something I really enjoyed as I got to learn about history through the lens of art, which in turn made it fascinating to me and caused the information to have much more of an impact. I think that by letting each person chose what topic they wished to pursue, it really made this project enjoyable rather than a laborious assignment, and personally I think I learned more about the Civil War and its many elements this way than I would have if we did some sort of traditional assignment.

 

 

Foundational Cracks (Theory Post)

My main topic of investigation for this project has been to understand the differences in how the Civil War is taught in different regions of the US. In particular, I sought to find differences in how the reasoning for the start of the war (a traditionally touchy subject) is explained and who decides this explanation.

The claim that I have developed from this research is that the different teaching guidelines contribute to long-term fundamental differences in understanding American history. While such small divergences may seem trivial, I have been led to believe that they are factors in the bigger problems in American society today.

My warrant for this claim is that Civil War education is almost solely delivered to students by lower and middle school teachers, teachers who are held as trustworthy and unquestionable by the students. So the thought that they could be imparting such strong, biased views in a public education atmosphere challenges such foundational beliefs in ourselves that it is almost incompatible to believe they could be wrong. By this ethos, students grow up without challenging their beliefs and blindly accept the Civil War lessons put before them. When confronted later in life by issues that build on these discrepancies, it is much easier to believe the opposing viewpoint is wrong than see a favorite teacher as biased and possibly racist.

Blogs on the Periphery

In all the time invested into building this blog, I have come across some great resources and other writers working in tangent to me. The impact of the Civil War has rippled into practically every aspect of life, and these following writers are investigating some great areas.

Writing on The Antebellum Times, blogger Old Gregg has contributed some really insightful pieces about early racism in American baseball in connection to the Civil War. He shares some perspectives and sources I had never considered before and is definitely worth a look!

Another great blog to check out is on Let’s Get Civil War, by blogger Uncertain Surgeon. This blogger shares some disgusting, albeit fascinating, connections to early medical practices and issues that took place in the war. For a gross look into the grim lives of the soldiers of this war, head over to their page.

While not directly linked to what I have been covering here, blogger johnkolod has been covering guns and war-front technology changes during the War in the “Lee’s Look” series. I’ve enjoyed reading their posts about how arms affected the outcome of the battles, and in particular a post about how the introduction of rifles likely made the war deadlier. I really like reading about the engineering aspects of the battlefront, and would recommend this one if you do too.

(This map from MIT shows the concentration of internet-connected devices in the US.)

The Future of Civil War Film: A Post about the Implications of Film if Things Do Not Continue to Change

At this point in time of Civil War films, things are changing. Given where this specific genre in film started, it has only improved. In my opinion, at this extremely tense time in our nation, the majority of people in the filmmaking business actually want to tell the true story of this era. They see the need to show the extreme racism and maltreatment of the African American community during the Civil War period and want to give this community a voice.

I think if the film community chose to revert to its old racist and factually inaccurate ways that the implications would be severe. The power that social media has and the power that the audience now has would only further the horrific impact that would happen if the improvement in African American representation in film as a whole was suddenly reversed.

Overall, I think that the film community has already improved on the issues of historical inaccuracy and under representation. Today filmmakers understand the power they have to give voices to minority communities and in my opinion they use it wisely.

A popular tv show, Atlanta, has been praised for its representation of the African American community in Atlanta. This show was somewhat controversial in its beginnings because many did not understand its purpose. Creator and lead actor of the show Donald Glover produced a show “that was familiar to some and imaginatively new to others” while simply trying to tell the story of the everyday life of a black person.

Hollywood as whole (both film and tv) has seized the opportunity to empower minorities in a serious time of need in our country. And I think they are doing very well in their initiative to do just that.

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