Martin Griffin, an assistant professor in the English Department, has just published Ashes of the Mind: War and Memory in Northern Literature, 1865-1900, a study of the effects of the Civil War on the literary works of five writers from the North: James Russell Lowell, Herman Melville, Henry James, Ambrose Bierce, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. While Southerners became best known for producing a literature of nostalgia and an ideological defensiveness intended to protect the South’s own version of history, writers in the North had a different view. Griffin’s book traces a concern with individual and community loss, ambivalence toward victory, and a changing politics of commemoration among Northern writers. What links these very different authors is a Northern memory of the war that became more complex and compromised as the century wore on, often replacing a sense of justification and achievement with a perception of irony and failed promise.
Ashes of the Mind: War and Memory in Northern Literature, 1865-1900. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009.
“Narrative, Culture, and Diplomacy.” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 38:4 (Winter 2009), pp. 258-69.
“Underneath a Sky of Blue” (Review essay). Soundings 91:1-2 (Spring/Summer 2008), pp. 189-99.
“Emerson’s Crossing: English Traits and the Politics of ‘Politics,’” Modern Intellectual History 5:2 (August 2008), pp. 251-78.