The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860-1890 by LeeAnn Whites (review)

The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860-1890 by LeeAnn Whites (University of Georgia Press, 1995)

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The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860-1890 by LeeAnn Whites (review)

by Anne M. Valk
Southern Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 4: The South in the World

University of Georgia Press, 1995

LeeAnn Whites contributes to the multitude of texts devoted to the Civil War with her provocative analysis of how the war precipitated a crisis in white southerners’ gender conventions, pushing elite men and women to make order in their changing world. Gender conventions, as Whites explains, constitute “historically rooted ways of organizing the gender order rather than…timeless, essential characteristics, belonging ‘naturally’ to the male or female sex.” With a focus on the ideas and actions of elite white residents of Augusta, Georgia, from the onset of the war through 1890, Whites uses gender as a category of analysis to understand the roles that men and women played in the struggle to preserve slavery and to “reconstruct” white manhood and womanhood after defeat.