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This chapter provides a critique of the antebellum period of American history in light of the 1846 US invasion of Mexico. Investigating the censoring of violent actions by American military personnel, the chapter argues that erasures found in texts by officers and soldiers fighting in Mexico shaped the war’s public meanings. Using critical bibliography, the essay makes several larger theoretical claims. First, the circumlocutions that structured cultural production of US military personnel must define the Mexican War’s place in US historiography. Second, the complex temporalities of writing and art from the Mexican War resonate with Siegfried Kracauer’s claim that periodizations are largely fictive, a connection between war and critical theory that invites broader critiques of reigning categories in early American history. Finally, representations of violence in the US military can be understood through the theories of Georges Bataille, whose conceptualization of early America was inflected by myths of violent sacrifice.

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