American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Visualizing Emancipation and the Postwar South in the Popular and Fine Arts

Published August 22, 2017

Sarah Burns, Indiana University
CUNY Graduate Center, July 19, 2016

In this discussion, Sarah Burns examines common Civil War narratives in fine arts in this period by examining the work of artists such as William Walker, Thomas Waterman, and Winslow Homer. Burns asks who created the pieces and for what audience and further questioning the works by examining portraits showing a different narrative of African Americans. Ultimately concluding that these works are a contention between white construction and black agency. This talk took place on July 19, 2016, as part of ASHP’s Visual Culture of the Civil War Summer Institute, an NEH professional development program for college and university faculty.  

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