Racial Complexity in Postbellum Literature

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


English Department

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Tara Penry


The history of South is a complicated historic matter that is oftentimes taught without nuance — white Americans owned black slaves, the Civil War decisively ended slavery, Jim Crow laws were created and subsequently dismantled. While each of these claims is individually true, there is a lot more to the story of national reunification that is often left out of history books. Slaveowning Native American tribes, black prison labor camps and de facto Northern segregation are strange and often unacknowledged pieces of history that speak to the complexity of racial relations in the postbellum South. In order to uncover historic truths left out of modern retellings of history, our project analyzes postbellum literature, newspaper clippings, and comic strips to piece together the under-recognized reality of America’s bizarre, messy, and incomplete recovery from civil war and racialized violence.

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