Scott Horton Interviews Cynthia Wachtell
Cynthia Wachtell, author of War No More: the Antiwar Impulse in American Literature 1861-1914, discusses how Romantic literature, which tended to sanitize and idealize war, was unsuitable for portraying the mechanization of modern warfare and the brutal reality of the Civil War; how Julia Ward Howe, writer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, eventually rejected the glorification of war and called for a worldwide woman’s movement to advocate for disarmament; how Mark Twain’s brief informal Confederate service shaped his lifelong antiwar beliefs; and why the modern media’s refusal to show images of dead soldiers is similar to Romantic-era self-censorship.
MP3 here. (28:06)
Cynthia Wachtell is a research associate professor of American Studies and the founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Yeshiva University. She earned a joint BA and MA in American Studies, summa cum laude, from Yale University and an AM in English and PhD in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. A native New Yorker, she lives in Manhattan with her husband and two sons.