U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Historians on Charleston

Our colleagues at the African American Intellectual History Society have compiled a bibliography of readings and resources that educators can use to introduce or frame classroom discussions about the recent terror attack in Charleston, South Carolina. As the introduction to the list explains, the readings were selected by a group of scholars drawing from suggestions offered by academics on Twitter using “#CharlestonSyllabus” hashtag.

Alongside this collaborative effort to compile a reading list of previously-published resources, many scholars, and particularly many historians, have written new work for the general public aimed at providing some much-needed historical context for understanding and discussing this week’s events.

I will highlight just three of these many outstanding contributions to the general discussion:

Racism Can’t Destroy this Charleston Church,” by Robert Greene II, PhD student, University of South Carolina

Reconstructing the American Tradition of Domestic Terrorism,” by Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History, Boston College

Centuries of Violence,” by Kidada E. Williams, Associate Professor of History, Wayne State University

In the comments to this post, I invite readers to add suggestions for other essays, commentaries, or interviews by scholars — particularly by historians, but also by scholars working in adjacent disciplines – that have been especially helpful in offering general readers a critically-informed perspective on recent events and their various historical contexts.

3 Thoughts on this Post

  1. This piece—an interview with Matthew Guterl—should not be missed. In it he discusses the historical origins, symbolism, and meaning of the Stars-and-Bars Confederate battle flag (it’s not The Flag of the Confederacy). He also discusses, in a short aside near the end, historical thinking and narratives—i.e. how some narratives are more true than others. – TL

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