Take a Course With David Blight on the Civil War and Reconstruction

David Blight’s lectures for his survey course on the Civil War and Reconstruction are now available for your viewing pleasure as part of Yale University’s “Open Courses” program. The course is divided into 27 lectures and are divided equally between the antebellum, wartime, and postwar years.

4 responses... add one

While I can’t get graduate credit for it, next to my week with Professor Gallagher this past summer, this will be a great way to spent winter break! Especially for this reformed Confederate apologist with a voracious appetite for learning more as I prepare to teach my own course on the war. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to get to Holzer’s book on Lincoln or the books I know are under the tree! So much good material, so little time…the story of my life! Thanks for the tip on this material.

Thanks for this link, Kevin. I just found it. I listened to the last lecture. I don’t know what the thinking was behind Yale’s decision to put these lectures on line (or was it Blight’s choice?) but this fits in with the idea that the Internet could possibly, in time, become a vehicle for implementing on a national and international level, Jefferson’s idea of an academical village. The beastly public may not be nice all of the time, but there is much to be learned from people who are on the ground, and vice versa.

My problem with the Internet is not the anonymity of the exchanges, but rather the false sense of privacy that is created. To truly discuss these issues, you have to go into depth, and that invites all sorts of attacks that close the discussion down. With that in mind, I would like to make one observation, as well as I can without drawing fire.

In the last lecture Professor Blight relates the eye witness account of an African American intellectual who, toward the end of Reconstruction, saw murdered in cold blood, by a mob, other African Americans. The eye witness to these violent murders then goes on to blame the murders not on the white mob, but on national reconciliation. The men murdered by the mob were the “common victims of Northern prejudice and Southern hate”, I think he said. This put into perspective for me something that I have been thinking quite a bit about. There seems to be (and I say seems to be, because this may just be my perception) a common theme that runs through a lot of discussions. Put in laymen’s terms, it would go something like this, those stupid redneck white Southerners, they’re the reason for all of the nation’s ills. We, from the North, the West, the mid West, have nothing to do with this. Now the South is getting its just rewards. This is what I meant when I said you can’t eliminate the concept of the other by creating another “other”, and more important, you can’t eliminate racial prejudice by helping to create the hatred that underlies racial prejudice. I think that if we look deeper, we will see that the entire nation has been part of a mob at some point in our history, whether as participants in oppression, or silent onlookers, and when we see this, we will truly be able to finally put away childish things, as President Obama suggested that we do in his inaugural speech. Maybe we could start with this. Racial and religious intolerance are not acceptable. The use of racial epithets and religious slurs is not acceptable. The promotion of a false view of history that promotes oppression is not acceptable. The use of the term “redneck” is not acceptable. Dr. King didn’t use the word “redneck”, that I remember. Also, when Dr. King talked of the dream of racial and religious equality in Biblical terms of white and black, Jew and Gentile, I believed him. I didn’t know that that was just a strategy! Foolish me.

I think you might see what I mean, Kevin. If not, I thank you for hearing me out, all the same, and I also thank you for your willingness to hear different points of view. Also, as a preemptive statement to ward off any potential counter statements that what I have just said is what proponents of the Lost Cause myth have been saying all along–No, it is not. The Lost Cause myth is the source of the problem.

As an undergrad and grad student, The only US History Course I took covering the period 1850 — 1877 was a survey course in my freshman year (a long, no very long time ago — before Vietnam was history). I have found this course to be very enjoyable and insightful, particularly after reading D. K. Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals.

I would like to caution the good Professor about showing too many of Brady’s photographs as many on them are not candid, but rather staged (as were some of Jacob Riis’ on the NYC slums).

Thank you for putting this up on the web.

R. E. Callard

Join the Conversation