In Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War (University of Virginia Press, 2012), Michael Cohen argues that the Civil War helped to create America’s modern system of higher education. Cohen traces the war’s immediate impact, including students’ leaving to fight and armies’ commandeering some campuses, and also considers the long-term consequences. The war—and the political and social conditions it created—prompted new federal involvement in education (the first Department of Education was created in 1867) and the development of the first true Southern universities. They also led more institutions to admit women, African Americans, and poor students. Reconstructing the Campus has won the Critics’ Choice Book Award (2014), from the American Educational Studies Association and the Linda Eisenmann Prize (2014), from the History of Education Society.
In ‘Bloody Breathitt’: Politics & Violence in the Appalachian South (University Press of Kentucky, 2013), Bob Hutton examines the heavily mythologized memory of blood feuds between Kentucky’s white mountaineers. He reveals a contested space within a former slave state which though far from the plantations and Civil War memorials, nonetheless was never completely divorced from the larger regional history. It was a place in which the legacy of the Civil War was not put to rest for decades. Hutton proposes that the “feud” concept serves as a facade for a thoroughly political struggle, one that survivors of unresolved civil wars all over the globe might recognize. ‘Bloody Breathitt’ won the 2014 Weatherford Award, and was chosen as a book of the year by the Appalachian Writers’ Association and the Kentucky Historical Society.
Tore Olsson‘s 2013 University of Georgia doctoral dissertation, “Agrarian Crossings: The American South, Mexico, and the Twentieth-Century Remaking of the Rural World,” was the recipient of three national prizes this year. They include the 2014 Oxford University Press USA Dissertation Prize in International History from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the 2014 Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award from the Agricultural History Society, and the 2014 Dissertation Prize from the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Section of the Southern Historical Association. The dissertation was also a finalist for the C. Vann Woodward Prize from the Southern Historical Association.