The Civil War and Reconstruction | ColumbiaX on edX | Course About Video

The Civil War and Reconstruction | ColumbiaX on edX | Course About Video

ERIC FONER: Nearly a century
and a half after its conclusion, the Civil War remains the central
event in American history. I am Eric Foner, the
Dewitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. I have taught here since 1982. And my research and scholarship
has mostly focused on the period that this course will be covering. If you want to know where the
world you’re living in came from, you need to know about
the Civil War era. How the national state,
the national government got to be as powerful as it is. How we went from slavery to
a period of great equality. And then a retreat from that into a
period of considerable inequality. That helps to explain the Civil
Rights Movement and in a certain sense helps to explain how we elected
the first black president in American history. This new online series explores
the history of the Civil War and the reasons for its
continued relevance today. The first course will
deal with the 1850s. It is called A House Divided because
that is the story we’re telling. How the United States divided into two
societies, one based on slave labor, one based on free labor, and the
careened toward the greatest political and military crisis in our history. The following two courses
in the series cover the conduct of the Civil War
itself, the coming of emancipation, and the struggle after
the war to breathe meaning into the freedom acquired
by the four million slaves. What you will see in this course
is me teaching my lecture course on the Civil War and Reconstruction
to Columbia University students but in 10 minutes segments with quizzes,
polls, activities, and illustrations from the Civil War era interspersed. Every week, we will feature filmed
lectures, conversations, discussions, and more. And every student online
will have the opportunity to interact personally
with this material and with me and my teaching
assistants, all of whom are historians in the making
at Columbia University. I grew up in a family of historians. My uncle Philip Foner was
a very prominent historian. My father Jack Foner, also a historian. My family was more that old
left 1930s kind of family. But also understood some of the
inequalities in American life, particularly the importance
of race which very few people were talking about
outside the Black world. So I just grew up knowing that this was
a fundamental problem for American life at a time when very few white
people were talking about it. It’s also the world I was
growing up in the 1960s. I mean in some ways my
sensibility was shaped in the ’60s as most people were
who lived through that decade. I actually wanted to be a
scientist, an astronomer. And then, I took a course
with Professor James Shenton, a great legendary teacher
here on the Civil War era. Shenton made us understand
that you couldn’t really appreciate what was
going on in the society without looking back and seeing the
deep history of where this came from. Finding an inspiring teacher
like that was what made me I think that I wanted to be a historian. At Columbia, the most important
figure in history department was Richard Hofstadter. A brilliant historian, a
brilliant writer, Hofstadter really emphasized the
importance of writing for an audience outside
the academic world. So it somehow this combination
of Shenton and Hofstadter. Merging those together was the sort
of model one might want to aspire to. In this course, we are
getting a certain kind of history that has been developed over
the decades in the Columbia History Department, a history that tries to
bring together political history, social history, intellectual history. And Columbia History
Department has a long tradition of reaching audiences
outside the so-called ivory tower of the university. This particular MOOC technology enables
me to reach probably more students that I have in my entire career.


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    The Civil War and Reconstruction 1865-1890 with @Columbia University's Eric Foner starts today — enroll now:

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