Department of English

Assistant Professor Coleman Hutchison publishes 'Apples and Ashes'

Mon, March 26, 2012
Assistant Professor Coleman Hutchison publishes 'Apples and Ashes'

From University of Georgia Press

Apples and Ashes offers the first literary history of the Civil War South. The product of extensive archival research, it tells an expansive story about a nation struggling to write itself into existence. Confederate literature was in intimate conversation with other contemporary literary cultures, especially those of the United States and Britain. Thus, Coleman Hutchison argues, it has profound implications for our understanding of American literary nationalism and the relationship between literature and nationalism more broadly.

Apples and Ashes is organized by genre, with each chapter using a single text or a small set of texts to limn a broader aspect of Confederate literary culture. Hutchison discusses an understudied and diverse archive of literary texts including the literary criticism of Edgar Allan Poe; southern responses to Uncle Tom's Cabin; the novels of Augusta Jane Evans; Confederate popular poetry; the de facto Confederate national anthem, "Dixie"; and several postwar southern memoirs. In addition to emphasizing the centrality of slavery to the Confederate literary imagination, the book also considers a series of novel topics: the reprinting of European novels in the Confederate South, including Charles Dickens's Great Expectations and Victor Hugo's Les Misérables; Confederate propaganda in Europe; and postwar Confederate emigration to Latin America.

In discussing literary criticism, fiction, poetry, popular song, and memoir, Apples and Ashes reminds us of Confederate literature's once-great expectations. Before their defeat and abjection—before apples turned to ashes in their mouths—many Confederates thought they were in the process of creating a nation and a national literature that would endure.

Praise for Apples and Ashes

“Beautifully written and compellingly argued, this first literary history of the Confederacy displays its author’s extensive knowledge of book history, print culture, Civil War history, and political theory. Hutchison shows that there was a significant literary culture in the Confederate States, and he pushes us to think against the grain in taking account of that literature as a ‘national’ literature. One of his major contributions is to offer a new, more complex, and contingent way of thinking about U.S. literary nationalism. I am confident that Apples and Ashes will become a standard work in the field of nineteenth-century American literary/cultural studies.”

Robert S. Levine, author of Dislocating Race and Nation: Episodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism

"In addition to mounting a fresh and compelling inquiry into literary nationalism, Coleman Hutchison has written an excellent study of a people, time, and place judged by many, including some of the century's most esteemed critics, to have produced no literature worth reading. Apples and Ashes makes a powerful case that the defeat of the Confederacy obscured the considerable merits of its literature."

Eric J. Sundquist, author of King's Dream: The Legacy of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech

Now available from University of Georgia Press

About the Author

Coleman Hutchison (Ph.D., Northwestern, 2006) teaches and writes about U.S. literature and culture to 1900. He has abiding interests in poetry, print culture, regional and national literatures, popular and folk music, and histories of sexuality. His essays have appeared in American Literary History, Comparative American Studies, The Emily Dickinson Journal, and PMLA, among other venues. He recently completed the first literary history of the Confederacy, Apples and Ashes: Literature, Nationalism, and the Confederate States of America.

Hutchison is working on two books-in-progress: "The Ditch is Nearer: Race, Place, and American Poetry, 1863-2009" and a popular biography of “Dixie.” The former project studies the interpenetration of locality and racial consciousness in American poetry between Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Barack Obama’s inauguration; the latter tells the story of how a song gave a region a nickname, and how that nickname helped to shape the region’s cultural identity.

Hutchison's research has been supported by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Antiquarian Society, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Huntington Library. In 2010 Hutchison received a UT System Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award.

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