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Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten - Essay Example

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In Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War (henceforth, Causes), Gary Gallagher presents a riveting analysis of the impact of film and art on the historical imagination of the Civil War, through an exploration of more…
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Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten
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Download file to see previous pages In Causes, we find how visual representation may – knowingly or unknowingly – color our understanding of past events, and discover the many ways this has occurred in the specific history of the Civil War in the United States (US).
Gallagher employs a lucid framework of analysis: he identifies four major “interpretive traditions” that find their way on screens and canvases, namely the Lost Cause, the Union Cause, the Emancipation Cause, and the Reconciliation Cause traditions (2008, p. 2). The Lost Cause regards the Southern secessionist call as a nation building movement of valor against insurmountable odds, with scant attention to slavery. The Union Cause portrays the North’s unflinching commitment to both retaining a united American nation in the face of Southern secessionism and preserving democracy. The Emancipation Cause deals squarely with the issue of black Americans’ liberation, and the Reconciliation Cause attempts to emphasize the uniquely American values that both sides stood for, even though they sought different ends (Gallagher, 2008, p. 2).
As the author maintains, though each of these have remained distinct interpretive scales of judgment, they have experiences a fair degree of overlap. But, Gallagher is careful to determine the remit of Causes’ scope at the onset and says that he “make[s] no claim to offer a history of the Civil War in American film,” (2008, p. 9) and reaffirms that his analysis does not stretch to the television. He says: “Whether intentionally or not, films [and artwork] convey elements of the four interpretive traditions, and how well each of the quartet has fared sheds light on their comparative vitality” (Gallagher, 2008, p. 10).
In Causes, Gallagher identifies the emergence of two key themes: firstly, he finds that the Lost Cause tradition has gradually done worse in films since the days of Gone ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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