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W.E.B. Du Bois was an American scholar and human rights activist, a respected author and historian of literature. His literature and studies analyzed the unreachable depths of American racism. Du Bois' seminal work is a collection of 14 essays titled "The Souls of Black Folk" (1903).
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As manifested in the readings of the selected novels, the Civil War continues to take a significant role in fictional reconstructions of history. This role is primarily based on the nature of this fratricidal war as an epochal conflict in American society that radically revealed the contradictions and discrepancies in regard to national self-definitions. It is in this sense that the Civil War can be read as constitutive for conceptualizing American culture in the past and present. The fictional narratives of the Civil War in nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature thematize the shifts in societal discourses about this conflict at the backdrop of the respective cultural concepts and thus invent unique stories about history that reflect the continuities and discontinuities inherent in the contemporary controversies about defining America.