Patriotism by Proxy: The Civil War Draft and the Cultural Formation of Citizen-Soldiers, 1863-1865

ISBN : 9780198863670

Colleen Glenney Boggs
208 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Aug 2020
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At the height of the Civil War in 1863, the Union instated the first-ever federal draft. Patriotism By Proxy develops a new understanding of the connections between American literature and American lives by focusing on this historic moment when the military transformed both. Paired with the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 draft inaugurated new relationships between the nation and its citizens. A massive bureaucratic undertaking, it redefined the American people as a population, laying bare social divisions as wealthy draftees hired substitutes to serve in their stead. The draft is the context in which American politics met and also transformed into a new kind of biopolitics, and these substitutes reflect the transformation of how the state governed American life. Censorship and the suspension of habeas corpus prohibited free discussions over the draft's significance, making literary devices and genres the primary means for deliberating over the changing meanings of political representation and citizenship. Assembling an extensive textual and visual archive, Patriotism by Proxy examines the draft as a cultural formation that operated at the nexus of political abstraction and embodied specificity, where the definition of national subjectivity was negotiated in the interstices of what it means to be a citizen-soldier. It brings together novels, poems, letters, and newspaper editorials that show how Americans discussed the draft at a time of censorship, and how the federal draft changed the way that Americans related to the state and to each other.


1 Public Reading and the Civil War Draft Lottery
2 We Are Coming, Father Abraham: Draft Substitutes and the Parodic Politics of Representation
3 Alter Egos: Biopolitical Subjectivity and the Economics of Substitution
4 The Heroic Substitute: African American Writers and the Formation of Black Citizen-Soldiers

About the author: 

Colleen Glenney Boggs is Professor of English at Dartmouth College. A specialist in nineteenth-century American literature, she is the author of Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity (Columbia University Press, 2013) and Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation 1773-1892 (Routledge, 2007). Her work has appeared in American Literature, PMLA, Cultural Critique, and J19, among others. She edited the volume MLA Options for Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War (Modern Language Association, 2016), and co-edits the book series Edinburgh Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures. She has served on the PMLA Editorial Board and as Director of the Leslie Center for the Humanities, and is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Mellon Foundation.

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