Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  September 13, 2015 12:00am-1:16am EDT

12:00 am
commandant. he was responsible for the murder of thousands of jews. >> this sunday night on q&a, jennifer teege on her life altering discovery that her nazifather was a concentration camp commandant. jennifer: he was a tremendously cool person. --tremendously cruel person. he was capable -- he had dogs, he had two dogs. he trained them to tear humans apart. -- there was a when he that he felt killed people. something, that when you were normal and you don't have this aspect of your personality,
12:01 am
it is very difficult to grasp. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. >> each week, american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nations college professors. you can watch the classes here every evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern. christopher anderson of clemson university teach the class on how former confederates in south carolina viewed reconstruction in the wake of the civil war. he looks at how some white southerners created their own version of what happened during the war, and how they justified and even romanticized their defeat and motives for fighting. this class is about one hour and 10 minutes. [laughter] prof. anderson: we are back from spring break. when is the last time anybody looked at the syllabus? uhhh? [laughter] as it happens, i have one in front of me. your number -- do you remember
12:02 am
what course you signed up for? and what the title was? [laughter] internet changed it to, but in the course catalog. " battleground bloodfield." what in the world does that mean? reconstruction in south carolina. the actual title of the course. what is a battleground? fought. where wars are prof. anderson: okay. have we read some books here that suggests that reconstruction was a battleground? ericrd subject -- foreigner-- was the battleground in "a short history of
12:03 am
reconstruction?" was attempted to be reconstructed? student: the south in general. they are trying to make it back into the old south. they are reconstructing the way of their lives are after the war. prof. anderson: but from the perspective guided by the republican party. whether they trying to do, generally? --what are they trying to do generally? a free labor society. a mirror image of what they conceived the north to the, which eventually included what sort of changes? -- the north to be. something is going to have to change right? in the south. something has to be rebuilt and reconstructed. what are those things? student: the freedmen's bureau. distribution of land and
12:04 am
rights. prof. anderson: economically, break up the plantation, or at least some of the features of the plantation. area,his south into an ideally of small farms, independent producers, that kind of stuff. what about freedom? student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: incorporate eventually. that is not necessarily the program in 1865. it becomes the program thanks to the politics of reconstruction. incorporate them some way into this free labor society with civil rights. and eventually political ones. is that a battleground? student: certainly. prof. anderson: a different kind. it's a social battleground, but these things are fought over. these things are highly controversial and contested.
12:05 am
you have people struggling over them. south carolina is i battleground? -- a battleground? and just what is being reconstructed, according to the book we read? how does the author mean it? student: to control african-americans. the system that they had before the war, trying to maintain the same thing now. prof. anderson: ah, reestablishment. reconstruct what "was." when the author uses it, as a term current at the time to describe an era. it's being kicked around in 1860. he meets something different in 1860. when the author uses it, he means social, political, and in some ways economic and cultural
12:06 am
reconstruction. the other author means power. reconstruction of the power that was -- defiance. carolina is a literal battleground -- what is he saying? war.a continuation of the student: just fought with different means. prof. anderson: different means, sasmme ends. even the confederacy is a means to an end. the control of the labor force, control of the black population, political control from the top down. how would you describe these means? student: violence. prof. anderson: a different kind of violence then conditional wartime violence? -- than conditional wartime violence? student: it is not necessarily a battleground, but with the kkk--
12:07 am
prof. anderson: it's kind of like a guerrilla war. summitke paramilitary, might go as far as to call it terrorism. begins immediately when the conventional war ends and doesn't stop until the republican government is overthrown. that is a battleground. when we call the course battleground, we mean south carolina is a state of the struggle. for these things and with these means. what is a blood field? when you think a blood field is? -- what do you think a blood field is? student: literally a field where a battle is fought. [laughter] what do you mean
12:08 am
residual effects? student: the effects on-- not just the soldiers fighting the war, but families-- [indiscernible] prof. anderson: that is one aspect. do you like that answer? student: i could agree with that. i would say in addition to that, the whole idea of a blood field, the leaving of actual blood on a field. the image that invokes, it's talking about what was left in the wake of war. stakeguess, what was at that shed the blood there. prof. anderson: did you look at up in a dictionary? student: nope. [laughter] prof. anderson: it's a word that doesn't exist. but you are right on. it's right. it was a proposed word. it was a word proposed to be
12:09 am
entered into the english language by james joyce, who defined it just as you do find it. the aftermath. -- just as you defined it. who goes to a battlefield actually sees a battle. yes, somewhere blood is soaking battlefield. we need some award to connote the aftermath. -- we need some word to connote the aftermath. these are images that the aftermath invokes. with this course is trying to do, we have been struggling with not just the battleground aspect of it, the battleground of reconstruction. but we are also talking about the aftermath. the aftermath of the war, different kinds of reconstruction. does this make sense? this sound like high-level academic thinking? i'm on it, are really good.
12:10 am
[laughter] 0-- i'm really good. if we turn to the other book we read. "the culture of defeat." see where i am going with this? is he talking about reconstruction? not in the physical sense, right? whiteo southerners, southerners do, even as they are struggling politically in reconstruction and per ily,tarily, -- paramilitar what else are they doing? they are creating a sort of story of society. ,hey are creating this myth these mythic elements that describe to southerners who they are. rumor what the aspects of that lost cause -- remember what the
12:11 am
aspects of that lost cause story said to southerners? what are they reconstructing? culture.their prof. anderson: their culture, as they see it. why did they lose the war, according to the lost cause story that is being crafted? student: overwhelming forces. prof. anderson: overwhelming force, overwhelming numbers, never had a chance. what is that lie according to the lost cause mythology? it's a plantation ideal. --'s a paradise where student: stories are still told like that today. prof. anderson: well yeah, now you are thinking oh my good, this goes from the 1880's and in some places it still is alive. in some places it is still taught.
12:12 am
which is one of the reasons why we are here talking about this kind of stuff. it helps us with the history of that story and where it goes. uths mythology builds a so which was pure, which was ideal, which never could have won, which fought for principles and not interests, where ladies were ladies and gentlemen were gentlemen. and what about slaves? paternalism reemerges in the myth. are they loyal? yes. happy to be slaves almost? certainly not the kind of behavior we are getting ready to talk about in this book. they need it, and they are happy in it in slavery.
12:13 am
that it is being built at the same time. the mythology might have happened anyway. when i say might, what would the author say? this is how modern hopeful nations cope with defeat. that brings us to why we are here, which is to talk -- continue to talk. we have been talking about a fourth book. epic,hestnut's civil war written by julia stern at northwestern. we are also dealing with two books because this book, mary chestnuts civil war, is a much larger book about mary
12:14 am
chestnut's daughter. and that's what brings us here. what is mary chestnut reconstructing in this diary? student: h eer culture. prof. anderson: her culture? defining heris southern believe. prof. anderson: what is an epic to her? student: it identifies and defines a culture. prof. anderson: it's a certain form that a story takes. it also reaches to the same aboutions about identity, defining a people, the characteristics of the people, but also representative.
12:15 am
becomes central to the definition of a people. sideee on the battleground of reconstruction or the blood field side of it. very much and aftermath look. we say that both by what we have how we know ity was composed. right? does anybody remember how it was composed? student: during the 1880's, mary chestnut went back to write what she remembered-- prof. anderson: this is not an actual diary of her wartime experience. student: it wasn't composed until decades later. prof. anderson: two decades later that she goes back to a wartime journal, a series of
12:16 am
wartime journals that she kept. they are very skeletal in what they record. she goes back and starts reworking these entries. it's ag, in a sense, reconstruction of a wartime journal, some of which were burned, as you mentioned. but created into something else. she is not trying to create something that proves the daily life. it's very much a literary creation, as stern describes it. it has literary ambition. it is not meant to be a simple recording, this is what happened on this day and i experienced it. it's meant to do something else. it is meant eventually to be published. it's not published in her lifetime. she died before that happened. literaryshed by her executor in 9005. -- in 1905. what we are going to do here is
12:17 am
work with our excerpts. probably the most famous chapter in this diary, to see if we can tease out some of the diary's themes but also if we can tease out the questions we are probing and investigating today. which is, the relationship of this diary with the aftermath of the war. she is working on this, some in the 1870's. and 1880's especially. when she is writing in his eye shadow of reconstruction. shadow of reconstruction. it is fundamentally different from what it has been. we were talking about a slave-based society. will kind of society is it now? -- what kind of society is it now? still biracial, but what is missing?
12:18 am
slavery is missing. well, then is it still agricultural? is it still rural? what is missing? student: the plantation. prof. anderson: yeah, the large-scale agricultural unity exists, but the plantation is much more than that. it gathers up much more than economic resources. it's primarily an economic institution, but after 200 years of the velvet it becomes -- years of development it becomes something quite different. it is biracial, but slavery has passed. is it democratic? not really. moreso. prof. anderson: you say really, and you say moreso. really.ot
12:19 am
someone must be right. [laughter] student: they are both kind of right. prof. anderson: ok so we are going to split the difference. is like coaching the old little league team. student: i'll take it. prof. anderson: okay, we will play with that. you are both kind of right. why did you say that? student: i don't even remember what you said. prof. anderson: you went "kinda." student: isn't this where they are still controlling the ballot through different means? not letting blacks vote? prof. anderson: they are doing it in different ways in the 1880's. actual, legal disenfranchisement
12:20 am
doesn't occur until the 1890's. but they are still trying to control the ballot, especially in south carolina. women can't vote. manmer slaves, freed are being pushed to the margins. is that democratic? said more so. student: you have more federal instigation into politics in the south. the conditions were going south-- [laughter] it's still a kinda different political atmosphere. you have carpetbagger politicians, black politicians. it's just a different atmosphere. prof. anderson: you have all of
12:21 am
those things in reconstruction. to certainly have a desire turn the south into a more democratic society. what about by the 1880's? what is changing? prof. anderson: you have the --se, the historic rise ben tillman would come to represent this in south carolina better than anyone. not as democratic as we would tend to think from our perspective. and certainly not as democratic as it might have been during reconstruction. but this is south carolina, right? south carolina as we know, has a distinct past. sort of the ground zero of reconstruction.
12:22 am
workow that this doesn't for all of the reasons that we have talked about. is the aristocracy of south carolina what it once was? class was important to chestnut. chivalry, as she called it in her diary? whatever else we might say about the tuitions -- about the institutions around her, the tone of politicians changed. example of what a south carolinanian was from the aristocratic class.
12:23 am
student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: that's a good point, the whole nation changes. it becomes more egalitarian. romanticized't it more than demonized? because you are talking about the novels written in all of --is old southern i guess it was shifting. was still the southern ideal. prof. anderson: what do you think of that? student: i think that could be true.
12:24 am
[indiscernible] student: they enjoyed the prospects of that luxury didn't enjoy the means for which they had it. prof. anderson: that is part of the lost cause. the whole country mythologized the south. this happens in 1880's and 1890's. anduld say romanticization demonization, rather than begin different, are part of the same coin. does that make sense? they are occurring at the same time, and for oddly similar reasons. a society that is biracial, but no slavery, agricultural, but the tone and structure of
12:25 am
politics has obviously notations and is more democratic than south carolina had ever fully experienced. being foughts over. what about realism -- what about journalism -- paternalism? is that gone? student: it's not as strong as it was. when the plantations fell, the idea of this great go figure that -- this great paternal figure was still there. prof. anderson: it's the same thing as the chivalry phase, these journalistic -- paternalis tic ideal was replaced by a different approach for african-americans.
12:26 am
a far more aggressive white supremacist viewpoint begins to take hold. you are seeing the ideological justifications shift as society and culture changes. this diary is written while -- reconstructed, rewritten while those things are going on. its part of the environment as much as it is part of the environment of the war. let's see what happens if we read some excerpts and get to exploring what mary chestnut is to approacho how
12:27 am
the book. approachives us is an to the book. outs see if we can't come with some ways to think about how those themes might be tied not just to her experience in the civil war, but experiencing in the 1880's in a different life. let's start at the beginning. women'sa chapter, the murder case. becky witherspoon, as we have talked about before, is a slave mistress. what happens? what happens to becky witherspoon, and when does it happen? she is strangled by her slaves. student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: the sl
12:28 am
aves try to frame her death as natural causes, but she is strangled by them overnight. this is quite disturbing. this happens when, do we remember? early in the war, late in the war? student: early. prof. anderson: 1861, which itself is also troubling. we don't know who is going to win it or lose the work, but at the same time the slaves have been awakened. or could be, anyway. michelle, widened to start -- why don't you start reading. how does he set this up? introductions are always important. go ahead. to--nt: would you like me prof. anderson: the opening scene of this chapter.
12:29 am
second, --id to her september 2, 1981. [indiscernible]
12:30 am
prof. anderson: the most unhappy people are the people who have bad thoughts. she comes home, she's got a fever. , ands confined in her bed she is left with bad thoughts. what kind of bad thoughts are possible in september and october of 1861? have -- y student: they have a gotten off to a good start in the war. it is possible
12:31 am
to think it is not going so well. what else? [indiscernible] student: is that possible to conceive of? after the murder -- prof. anderson: so after the murder -- is possiblehink it before, because slavery was a big part of the war. prof. anderson: the happy people might say of course not. the unhappiest people are the ,nes who are going to say remember south carolina is populated by a black majority. this is especially true in the low country. we know there are already movements of foot of a federal invasion. what are the bad thoughts?
12:32 am
what are possible bad thoughts in 1861? student: it could be both sides of the coin. you can see the gentility --is that a word? gentility? and the hypocrisy in it. prof. anderson: don't you love the way she uses the patriarch moses? he's got cross ice. cross-eyes. can look both ways. always possible to see both sides of the question. the younger moses becomes a reconstruction era governor. who knows how deliberate that might have been. but here she is, she is in her bed, helpless, right? have you ever been helpless? i'm sure you were helpless at a very young age. [laughter] prof. anderson: who in here is a
12:33 am
bad patient, besides me? my wife calls me a bad patient. i can't stand to be sick, to have people taking care of me. you get frustrated. no? good patient? morgan says no. i'm happy to be taken care of. [laughter] what else might you think? we might be surrounded by enemies. student: death taking so many young people away from the home front? professor anderson: she might die. that is how bad this is. she has got to be thinking about death. what does that conversation turn
12:34 am
on? how many are lost? how many are killed and wounded? she is coming back from seeing the front, being at the front, being in richmond. she has seen and experienced death in a way that most of the people she is going to be around have not yet. student: and many of them are not even dying in battle. professor anderson: right, not , take a shot in the chest and go out, just nasty stuff, disease, dysentery, diarrhea, fever. stuff you would prefer not to have on your death certificate. you want to go out a little bit more -- especially coming from the chivalry -- you want to go out a little bit higher than that. any other bad thoughts? these are southerners, right? are they supposed to be thinking bad thoughts? a full flower of the nation being tried in battle in a very
12:35 am
romantic era? student: that the confederacy could not stand that identity -- prof anderson: are we strong enough? are we strong enough? not just are we strong enough, but littered throughout this chapter are references to fathers, the revolutionary fathers. that scene with squire mcdonald, descended from jasper mcdonald, all that kind of stuff. are we of their metal? -- medal? are we worthy to be founders of a nation of our own? that is a powerful, powerful fear, if you think about it in the context of 19th-century romantic nationalism. we still, to this day, the founding fathers are enjoying a rebirth right now. they still cast a shadow. people somehow feel inadequate
12:36 am
against -- imagine if you are trying to create a nation that you say is the true america, the true vision of america, how much more significant that feeling might be? what does she do after it? she introduces it, she talks about cross-eyes, seeing things both ways. she is setting us up here. she is setting us up for uncertainty. where did she go? what does she end up talking about from their forward -- there forward? student: people who visit her, -- es of those people
12:37 am
ofdent: she invokes the idea facing chivalry so hotly -- gallantly -- prof anderson: yes, yes. she eventually ends up -- she doesn't begin by talking about the death of mary witherspoon, which i find interesting, which is clearly the most significant event -- i keep saying mary witherspoon because i keep confusing her, it is betsy weatherspoon. she begins like betsy. she begins just like her. student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: right. she is creating a sort of image around that. we don't finally get there until september 9.
12:38 am
remember, this is 20 years later. mary chestnut knows very well how all of this proceeds. we have to think that what she is doing is a deliberate re-creation or reconstruction. michael, where do we finally hear about this? why don't you read that? student: september 19. prof. anderson: ok, september 19. we go a few pages in a diary, it 10 days of so-called core logical time. student: a small war and the ladies in society, president sue bonnie vp, time in full blast. at first, there were nearly 100 members, 80-90 always present at a meeting, now 10-20 are all that they can show. the worst is they have forgotten the hospitals where they really could do so much good and gone off to provision and clothe the army, a job in the pocket or
12:39 am
ocean. a painful piece of news came to us yesterday, our cousin is weatherspoon of society hill found dead in her bed. she was quite well the night before. killed by family troubles, contentious, wrangling, ill blood among those nearest and dearest to her. she was a proud and high strong woman, nothing shabby in word, thought, or deed ever came by her. of a warm and tender heart, too. truth and of brightness it self. few persons have ever been more loved and looked up to, a handsome old lady, i find -- a fine presence, dignified in commanding, killed by family troubles. if so, it is a third of the family that same has been said of, so they said when john williams died, so uncle john said yesterday, says brother burwell. he takes fancy shots of the most eccentric kind near home. prof. anderson: all right, so they goes to the point we just talked about. death is coming everywhere. there is a separation between
12:40 am
home front and battlefront -- it doesn't really exist. killed by family troubles. don't you just love that? killed by family troubles. what is the allusion she is creating here? don't we know how betsy witherspoon dies? don't we know that her slaves struggled her in her bed? doesn't she know that? student: but she didn't know that on september 19. prof anderson: right. student: it creates suspense. prof anderson: we have to think then that family troubles is meant to do something else. that we are supposed to think a family troubles not as a descriptive, but as a commentary. or a motif. what introduces that? what is the ladies' society about? this is just a volunteer
12:41 am
organization of ladies -- of ladies -- this is a status distinction in the 19th century -- ladies who are supposed to be helping out with the war effort, alleviating suffering and what has happened already. we are only in september 1861. what has happened already? student: people are deserting. prof. anderson: people are deserting, which i think is an interesting word. student: they are complaining about the way -- prof. anderson: they are complaining. student: they are not being helpful where they could be. prof. anderson: not being helpful, being selfish. secession. don't you love how she links the political atmosphere with the home atmosphere, and they forgot, right? are these people worthy of the cause? student: no. prof. anderson: was that your
12:42 am
answer or mary chestnut's answer? student: both. prof. anderson: she has been pointing it out, we can say that. they are not being true to the cause, they are not true patriots. student: she is also saying forgotten, as in not actually asked true. -- as true. i think when she is saying forgotten, it's like they don't want to go to the hospital to see the destruction and death so they can still live in their fantasy world. prof. anderson: blissful ignorance, better not to know. it is better not to know of the suffering, but it also might be better not to have to confront it. because then you have to kind of confront your commitment to this thing. student: it seems bizarre to me, though, that death by family troubles is more ok van -- than death from your slaves? student: what could she doing -- it might be a play on paternal, could represent that.
12:43 am
like, the slaves would have been by the weatherspoon's considered under paternalism part of the family. mutual obligation. prof. anderson: so you're saying she is using it in an ironic sense. student: yes. prof. anderson: death by family. because paternalism -- the ideology of paternalism says that slaves are members of the family, sort of like killed by family troubles, wink wink. that is possible. but certainly, the metaphor, the image of family that is supposed to define these various features of southern society. it is supposed to define the political confederacy. we are in this together, this is our cause, that sort of thing. it is supposed to define the plantation environment. not just the whites who live there, but their so-called familial slaves. it is a very gripping kind of all-inclusive -- instead of
12:44 am
having unity, we are starting to see people assert themselves or at least desert the family. but again, she knows what is coming. we have to think that that's -- it is both a literary device but also a commentary of sorts. how else might we make the argument that it is a metaphor? that it is a trope? based on what follows? student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: it comes up again. that is a good indicator. but how does she build behind that? do we then find out what really happens to betsy? no. prof. anderson: no. she is going to withhold that and talk about what instead? student: her own family, and the perkins. prof. anderson: the perkins
12:45 am
family, but also her own family. how does she describe her own family? or lack thereof? in the case of or inability to have children? -- her inability to have children? student: i guess, as -- unstable might not be the right word -- but just how she talks about her mother-in-law. she speaks well of her, but she doesn't respect her. same with her father-in-law, kind of. prof. anderson: right. student: it is all just built on shallow ground, i guess. prof. anderson: it is a weird relationship because there is respect there, but it is also like she says very early -- we didn't read this part of the diary -- she is able to be entirely objective. she is almost able to separate herself out.
12:46 am
there are problems in this family as there are problems in every family. there is respect in their, but there is also resentment. one of the big resentments is that the patriarch, james chestnut, is still the master. the chestnuts, james chestnut junior and mary, still kind of live under that domain. but she makes this turnaround two days later by talking about her mother-in-law, and i'm going to ask jenny if she can read this one. are you comfortable reading this one? student: sure. prof. anderson: page 198, 2 days later. she is trying to illustrate where this comes from, or this family trouble. student: last night when the
12:47 am
mail came, i was seated near the lamp. mr. chestnut climbed on the sofa and called out to me. look at my letters and tell me about them. i read them out loud. it was from mary weatherspoon. -- witherspoon. i broke down. homer and amazement was too much for me. poor betsy was murdered. she did not die peacefully in her bed, murdered by her own people, her negroes. i remember when dr. kitt was murdered by his negroes. very awkward, indeed. there goes kitt, in the house, always complaining about the institution. how now? her household negroes were so insubordinate that she lived alone at home. she knew, she said, that none of her children would've had the patience she had with these people who had been so indulged by her until they were like spoiled children, simply intolerable. mr. chestnut and david williams
12:48 am
have gone over at once. prof. anderson: there we go, we finally get to the truth. and the truth is, she is murdered. very awkward indeed. this sort of thing [laughter] . don't you just love the way she reports? very awkward, indeed. what is she calling into question by inserting this story of -- the story of how dr. kitt, the brother of lawrence is killed by his slaves, and we later figure out he is in florida. what is being called into question here by that? by that coupling of the death of betsy witherspoon and the story of dr. kitt? or the fragments of the story? what is being called it a
12:49 am
-- into question? student: i think she is questioning the way the system of paternalism is functioning at this point, because we take the position -- the slaves were part of the family and now they are murdering parts of their own family, it is falling apart. it is failing. prof. anderson: it is failing. it is not just that these slaves are a threat, it is that the whole notion of paternalism doesn't seem to stand up. it is quite a magnificent institution. not so magnificent when you are being murdered in your bed, either you are dr. kitt or betsy witherspoon. prof. anderson: she then talks about -- and she goes in an entirely different -- are you ever going to tell us? it's like you are in third grade, tell me a story.
12:50 am
story time. be like my wife. she reads the end of every book first to determine whether she wants to read the story. [laughter] prof. anderson: does anybody else do this? because i consider it very odd, very awkward, indeed. buy a book, read it back, then decide whether you're going to read it. student: what if it is a bad ending? prof. anderson: see, you are an unhappy person because you are already thinking bad thoughts. [laughter] student: if someone dies by the -- hasn't died by the end, i don't read it. [laughter] prof. anderson: how very "deliverance" of you, how very southern gothic of you. you do that. i know you do. so, instead of telling us -- the
12:51 am
whole chronology that she established here is in some ways a device. it allows her to keep this level of suspense going. her husband goes off to investigate what happens. so we don't know. we don't know immediately the details of what has happened to betsy witherspoon. so she takes that and just veers off to an entire -- what comes next? we don't hear about betsy witherspoon next. student: she talks about the perkins family. prof. anderson: the perkins family, the story of a mother and daughter -- a young widowed lady -- and the mother now want let her out of the house. or anybody in. and then what did she talk about? student: the mother-in-law. prof. anderson: her mother-in-law. it is always dangerous to talk
12:52 am
about your in-laws in print. [laughter] prof. anderson: let's just established that right now, that it is one thing to have a conversation in the corner about them, but need is thicker than blood. [laughter] prof. anderson: this is mary chestnut. this is the woman with whom she has a very interesting relationship, because there is respect. but there is also detachment. how does she portray her mother-in-law? student: opposites. prof. anderson: resolute opposites. never thinking bad thoughts. the happiest people the ones who never think that thoughts. -- resolute optimism. what gives her that optimism? student: her blissful ignorance. prof. anderson: her blissful ignorance. which she describes -- how does her chestnut describe
12:53 am
mother-in-law's determined, almost aggressive, blissful ignorance? student: she has created a bubble for herself. she does nothing but read all day. that sounds kind of nice, actually. prof. anderson: it is actually very nice, right? that she is a highly intelligent person. always has the latest novels, always has the latest periodicals from europe. despite never buying one. and despite a blockade, she always manages -- [laughter] prof. anderson: to get the good stuff. she wraps her self in genteel -- basically sticks her head in the ground. what is she refusing to acknowledge? student: changes that are happening in society. and the hypocrisy of the society.
12:54 am
prof. anderson: the hypocrisy she lives with every day? student: yeah. prof. anderson: she had mentioned something about this hypocrisy earlier, but generally speaking, she is an optimist. we start this chapter about bad thoughts. we come to this middle portion of the betsy witherspoon story where we have a person refusing to have bad thoughts. student: but she knows exactly -- prof. anderson: she does. she's not blind, she just -- student: she is the cleverest woman i know. student: she pits mary up against perkins, and ms. perkins can see everything and does have bad thoughts, but the mother-in-law doesn't have bad thoughts, but they both do it to protect each other. prof. anderson: what is better, right? this is a question we always
12:55 am
-- all sometimes space, blissful ignorance or doubt? that is what is starting to creep in here, right? that is what she is building toward. they were certainly sure that witherspoon died of family troubles. the longer this thing goes on, the more this confrontation, this collision between blissful ignorance and doubt is -- that is what she is developing. those bad thoughts we started with? they look more possible now after the death of -- student: even those with blissful ignorance are not safe. prof. anderson: good. student: you can be happy until you get strangled by your slaves. [laughter] prof. anderson: you can be happy and not be fearful, but that doesn't make you alive.
12:56 am
that is a possibility. you want to say something. that is the mind working, when you go to the chin. that is a very academic thing to do. student: she starts to reference the blockade around them. [indiscernible] so now you're: starting to see these other themes layered on the blockade. everybody knows that if the federal troops land in south carolina low country, what might result in that slave population. what are we told is always in this chapter, though? but fairy rarely directly -- very rarely directly referenced?
12:57 am
student: [indiscernible] prof. anderson: the fear of slave rebellion. how about the actual experience? has canada had an incident like this? in living memory? but what is the connection she establishes? it was her father-in-law's slave who revealed -- who ratted out -- even today, it makes you mad -- you rat! it was reported in a state legislature, even though he continued to live in chestnut land. some of the best parts of this book are when she is recovering these connections. mary chestnut knows that surely
12:58 am
as she knows the outcome of what she describes. that is just cannot haunting their. haunting there. it is possible that bad thoughts are not just in your head -- they might be real. they might be real. until eventually, she wheels down to october 11. page 213. all these things being discussed, we still -- in the meantime, we find out finally what happens to betsy witherspoon. we find out that she was
12:59 am
strangled and it is just horrible beyond words. very awkward, indeed. until she gets to the campo. student: [indiscernible] she stops by -- prof. anderson: still on the plantation, right? she actually goes to worship. we've had a slave rebellion, or fears of a slave rebellion. we have had a slave murdered, hanged. and yet she goes and includes this scene. go ahead. student: [in a southern accent] [indiscernible] his forefathers must've been of royal blood.
1:00 am
he was on his knees facing us with his eyes shut. he clapped his hands at the end of every sentence, his voice rose to a pitch of a shrill shriek. still, his voice was strangely clear and musical. sometimes it running out -- ruyn b outnf -- a trumpet. like
1:01 am
1:02 am
1:03 am
1:04 am
1:05 am
1:06 am
1:07 am
1:08 am
1:09 am
1:10 am
1:11 am
1:12 am
1:13 am
1:14 am
1:15 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on