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Michael Gorra
Smith College (Northampton, MA 01063-6304)
William Faulkner's Civil War

A book-length study of how the Civil War shaped Faulkner's fiction and also how Faulkner's fiction influenced understanding of the Civil War.

What can the work of William Faulkner tell us about the Civil War? And what can that war tell us about the most important American writer of the 20th century? These questions seem obvious, and yet no book-length work has put them at its center. This one will. It will use the Civil War to help us understand the whole body of the Mississippian's fiction, making his demanding work newly available for the general reader, and at the same time uses that fiction to help us understand the war itself, from Secession through Reconstruction and on to our own continual revision and rewriting of its history. But it is also about the civil war within Faulkner himself, his own struggle to come to terms with its meaning; which is to say, with slavery. His attempt—and ours. For what we think about the Civil War at any given moment can tell us what we think about ourselves as Americans, about the nature of our polity and the shape of our history.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017