a few themes regarding the antebellum era…

…in no particular order:

  • tensions over the transition from a mercantile/ precapitalist/ agrarian economy to an industrial economy
  • class (and by extension capitalism) is a key component in American democracy
  • using the new social history to reconstruct the communities and recover the agency of enslaved people
  • the development of whiteness
  • racism as a projection of white nostalgia for a pre-industrial past + frustration with the new capitalist economy onto black people
  • growing the nation and expanding westward via transportation, expansion of slavery, or cultural imaginary
  • tensions between America as Edenic garden/ America as industrial giant; landscape, art, technology
  • reform movements and religious plurality
  • impacts of deskilling and proletarianization on the nation and on individuals
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