Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915

My dissertation, “Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915,” explores the complex ways that American artists interpreted war-induced disability after the Civil War. Examining pictorial representations of disabled veterans by George Inness, Thomas Nast, William Bell, and other artists, I argue that the veteran’s broken body became a vehicle for exploring the overwhelming sense of loss that Northerners and Southerners experienced in the war's aftermath. Oscillating between aestheticized ideals and the reality of affliction, visual representations of disabled veterans uncover postwar Americans’ deep and otherwise unspoken anxieties about masculinity, identity, and nationhood. This project represents the first major effort to historicize the visual culture of war-related disability and presents a significant deviation from previous Civil War scholarship and its focus on death. In examining these understudied representations of disability and tracing out the ways that they rework and reinforce nineteenth-century constructions of the body, this project models an approach to the analysis of period imaginings of corporeal difference that might in turn shed new light on contemporary artistic responses to physical and psychological injuries resulting from warfare.