2011 Jefferson Lecture: Drew Gilpin Faust
"As we come over time to see ourselves differently, we will ask different questions of our past, and as we ask those questions, we in turn develop changed perceptions of ourselves."
—Drew Gilpin Faust, "Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian," 2011
Drew Gilpin Faust, historian and first female president of Harvard University, delivered the 2011 Jefferson Lecture, titled, "Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian," on May 2, 2011. Faust discusses the ways the Civil War has been commemorated and its legacies contested for over a century, with these debates about the interpretation of the war "mirroring our contemporary debates about national purposes." She highlights the importance of rigorous scholarship in influencing new forms of remembrance, as well as the role played by the changing politics and priorities of the present in shaping the questions we ask about the past, and the ways we seek to answer them. And she grapples with the ways war and the humanities are entwined, the ways we "use the humanity of words to understand the inhumanity of war." The full text of her lecture can be read here.
About Drew Gilpin Faust
Faust, who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, is a well-known scholar of the antebellum South and Civil War, professor of history, civil rights activist, founding dean of Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the first female president of Harvard University. She has published many books that advance our understanding of the South and Civil War by exploring Southern intellectual history and proslavery ideology, women and gender in the antebellum South, and the social and cultural history of the Civil War.
Read an interview with Drew Gilpin Faust and NEH Chairman Jim Leach.
Read more about Faust's scholarship in David W. Blight's profile for Humanities magazine.
EDSITEment has a robust collection of curricula and lesson plans about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights movement. This section highlights some of EDSITEment's curricular resources for teaching this history and its influence on the present. Not exhaustive, it instead picks up on some of the themes in Faust's research, especially gender and the experiences of women.
- Life in the North and South 1847-1861: Before Brother Fought Brother (Grades 6-8): Students explore life in the antebellum United States and the economic, political, and ethical debates dividing the country.
- Civil War: "A Terrible Swift Sword" (Grades 9-12): The three lessons in this unit work with primary sources to address important questions and controversies in the war.
- The Growing Crisis of Sectionalism in Antebellum America: A House Dividing (Grades 9-12): In this unit, students will trace the development of sectionalism in the United States as it was driven by the growing dependence upon, and defense of, black slavery in the southern states.
Abraham Lincoln on the American Union: “A Word Fitly Spoken” (Grades 9-12): Students will work with three of Lincoln's most famous speeches and other of the president's writings to analyze his thought about American union and its implications for freedom and self-governance.
The Battle over Reconstruction (Grades 9-12): This unit traces the history of Reconstruction, from the aftermath of the Civil War to the end of Reconstruction in 1877.
NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaigns: The Quest for Social Justice in the Interwar Years (Grades 9-12): This unit explores an often-omitted chapter in the struggle for civil rights and against racism: the NAACP's campaigns for federal anti-lynching legislation in the 1920s and 1930s.
Competing Voices of the Civil Rights Movement (Grades 9-12): This curriculum works with the thought and writings of two leaders of the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, to understand different perspectives on the United States, its relationship to Black Americans, and how to secure justice for Black people and communities.
- After the American Revolution: Free African Americans in the North (Grades 6-8): Students will work with different accounts of Sojourner Truth's life, as well as autobiographies of other African Americans living in the North, to learn about the lives of freed slaves after the American Revolution.
- Harriet Jacobs and Elizabeth Keckly: The Material and Emotional Realities of Childhood in Slavery (Grades 6-8): In this lesson, students learn firsthand about the childhoods of Jacobs and Keckly from reading excerpts from their autobiographies. They practice reading for both factual information and making inferences from these two primary sources. They will also learn from a secondary source about commonalities among those who experienced their childhood in slavery.
- Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (Grades 6-12): In this lesson, students will comprehend the organizational structure of the Underground Railroad; learn about one of its most famous conductors, Harriet Tubman; and consider ways that heroines and heroes of slavery resistance should be remembered.
- A Raisin in the Sun: Whose "American Dream"? (Grades 9-12): Students critically read and analyze Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun to evaluate the the shifting meaning of and access to what has been constructed as "The American Dream" in U.S. history and culture
- Toni Morrison's Beloved: For Sixty Million and More (Grades 9-12): This lesson guides students through a close reading and critical reflection of Morrison's Beloved, helping them draw connections between the novel and the present day.