The Fateful Lightning: Civil War Stories and the Magazine Marketplace, 1861-1876

The Fateful Lightning: Civil War Stories and the Magazine Marketplace, 1861-1876

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Author/Contributor(s): Diffley, Kathleen
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Date: 11/01/2021
Binding: Paperback
Condition: NEW

The Fateful Lightning is the second volume of Kathleen Diffley's trilogy on Civil War magazine fiction. While her first book of the trilogy, Where My Heart Is Turning Ever, charted the role of magazine fiction from the Northeast in "grounding the rites of citizenship" following the end of the Civil War, The Fateful Lightning traces the sectional conflicts in a postwar nation and how region shaped the political agendas of these postwar editorials.

Diffley argues that the journals she examines present stories that give unpredictable results of sectional conflict and commemorate the Civil War differently from the northeastern publishing establishments. She weaves this argument through her analysis of four literary journals: Baltimore's Southern Magazine, Charlotte's The Land We Love, Chicago's Lakeside Monthly, and San Francisco's Overland Monthly. Diffley uses a method of literary analysis that looks at what is not only present in the text but also present throughout its historically informed context, gleaning cultural meanings from what the stories also filter out. Coupling this literary analysis with city studies, Diffley's innovative approach demonstrates how these editorials offer varying gauges of continued political unrest, rising social opportunity, and conflicting commemorative investments as Reconstruction began to unfold.