With the end of the school year not too far off it’s time to think about electives for next year. I’ve already decided to offer my Women’s History class next spring; that should give you an idea of just how much I am enjoying this class. For the fall term I’ve decided to offer a class specifically on Abraham Lincoln. I have yet to write up a detailed course description and I don’t even know what to call the class. Perhaps “Lincoln’s America” or Lincoln’s Civil War” will work. I foresee a fairly straightforward class that explores both Lincoln’s personal life as well as the war years, and if there is time I will introduce the class to issues related to Lincoln and memory.
As far as books are concerned I’ve decided to use the late William Gienapp’s short biography, Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America (Oxford University Press, 2002) along with the companion volume of primary sources. The biography is right around 200 pages which will make it easy to bridge off from to examine other sources and work on various projects. The companion volume of letter, speeches, etc. is compiled from Roy Basler’s The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. I also wanted to order one book of essays on Lincoln, but am having some difficulty narrowing it down. Right now Gabor Boritt’s The Lincoln Enigma: The Changing Faces Of An American Icon (Oxford University Press, 2001) is the front runner. The essays cover a wide swath. The essays include Douglas Wilson on Lincoln’s early life, David H. Donald on Lincoln and Davis as commander in chief as well as Allen Guelzo on Lincoln and the Constitution. Finally, there is a wonderful collection of artistic interpretations of Lincoln by Boritt and Harold Holzer. Feel free to offer any other suggestions that you think might work well.
I plan to write up something fairly substantial about the course in light of the upcoming Lincoln Bicentennial celebrations. I am already working on a lesson plan that looks at how the Ken Burns documentary interprets Lincoln’s life. Who knows, maybe I will take the class on a pilgrimage to Springfield, Illinois.