These four contributions to the ongoing critical reconsiderations invited by the sesquicentennials of the Civil War and Reconstruction find different meanings in different genres and media. In The Civil War Dead and American Modernity, Ian Finseth takes an exceptionalist turn on Anthony Giddens’s sociological account of modernity. For Giddens, spatial-temporal dislocation and social disembedding characterize life in industrial capitalist societies. For Finseth, in the United States, these were the result of reckoning with the Civil War’s unprecedented carnage. As he puts it, “American modernity . . . reimagined, reanimated, and yet . . . abjected the dead in order to constitute itself as modernity” (6, italics in original). While this argument is circular, the frame enables some perceptive readings.

Whereas Russ Castronovo’s analysis of US necropolitics in Necro Citizenship (2001) focuses on the category of citizenship, Finseth works at a higher...

You do not currently have access to this content.