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Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History by…

Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History

by Richard Wightman Fox

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I was expecting to be totally uninterested in this book- I figured it was just another book about cultural memory around Lincoln, and like, I've read Merrill Peterson and Barry Watson so what more could be said? And admittedly, some sections of this book do read like those books--there were parts that I went "eh, this isn't super duper new information to me, or a new way of analyzing it." But some parts--particularly the opening chapter about Lincoln's body as a political tool, where I was like screaming with excitement--really were new and refreshing to read. The last chapters also were great, as Fox goes over the latest Lincoln-related stuff, and that was super interesting because I consciously remember that time (it sort of ends with Spielberg's Lincoln, which was something of a landmark moment in my life.)

Fox is also very attentive to the differences in memory between white Americans and Black Americans across history, which is awesome! It also made me reflect a lot on the regional differences he doesn't quite touch on--he divides the country between "north" and "south," which makes some sense, but doesn't really get into the "west" which I think is super interesting, and even within those, there's a radically different sense? Like as someone who used to live in the Land of Lincoln and now lives about an hour and a half from Mankato (site of the largest mass execution conducted in the US, where 38 Dakota men were killed on orders from Lincoln himself) there is an entirely different sense about Lincoln there and here. And while that's not necessarily Fox's fault--he acknowledges in his Notes on Sources that he couldn't find the archival material to address other racialized groups in the US--it does leave some interesting gaps.

Nonetheless, I really think this book is valuable, particularly for Fox's body analytic--even if Lincoln/dead white dudes aren't your thing, if you're interested in thinking about embodiment in history, this could be a really really valuable book for you! ( )
  aijmiller | May 12, 2017 |
Very interesting book. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 11, 2016 |
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