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Christopher Hager
Trinity College (Hartford, CT 06106-3100)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 8/31/2015

The Epistolary Culture of the U.S. Civil War

Summer research and writing on American Literature and Studies, and U.S. History.

This project represents the first major study of Civil War letters, one of the most voluminous outpourings of literary expression in U.S. history. Although historians have consulted Civil War letters as sources of data, literature scholars have yet to understand them as a distinct genre. Though they may seem mundane and sub-literary, these letters constitute more than a historically significant episode of written expression. Rank-and-file soldiers and their families, whom war compelled to read and write more than they ever had, adapted conventions of epistolary communication to a novel context, and they produced letters which document an expansion of literacy and reveal abundant literary invention. My analysis of these letters will produce an affective history of soldiers' and their families' wartime experiences, as well as a novel account of the epistolary genre's transition from aristocratic tradition to popular medium.