Parry-Giles Co-Authors Book on Lincoln Memories

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Republicans and Democrats who advocated conflicting visions of American citizenship could agree on one thing: the rhetorical power of Abraham Lincoln’s life. The newly published book Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought (Penn State University Press) examines the debates over his legacy and their impact on America’s future.

In the thirty-five years following Lincoln’s assassination, acquaintances of Lincoln published their memories of him in newspapers, biographies, and edited collections in order to gain fame, promote partisan aims, champion his hardscrabble past and exalted rise, and define his legacy. Professor and Chair Shawn Parry-Giles, along with co-author David Kaufer (Carnegie-Mellon University), explore how style, class, and character affected these reminiscences. They also analyze the ways people used these writings to reinforce their beliefs about citizenship and presidential leadership in the United States, with specific attention to the fissure between republicanism and democracy that still exists today. Their study employs rhetorical and corpus research methods to assess more than five hundred reminiscences.

A novel look at how memories of Lincoln became an important form of political rhetoric, this book sheds light on how divergent schools of U.S. political thought came to recruit Lincoln as their standard-bearer.

UPDATE: Parry-Giles and Kaufer's book is featured in the June 9 issue of Research Roundupfrom the University of Maryland's Division of Research.

UPDATE: Parry-Giles and Kaufer pen an article for The Conversation"Why Abraham Lincoln is an Icon for Republicans and Democrats Alike." See also republications appearing in Newsweek and the Huffington Post.

Learn more about Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought here:


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