This post is crossposted from

Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, is author of Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War and, most recently, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Random House). We were thrilled to learn that she has recently been chosen to deliver the 2011 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. (View the list of previous honorees.)

If you’re not familiar with Faust’s work, you can read the preface, introduction, and chapter excerpt from Mothers of Invention on our website.

You can also read a sample from her essay “The Dread Void of Uncertainty: Naming the Dead in the American Civil War” at the Southern Cultures feature on the Civil War. (The full text of the article, originally published in the Summer 2005 issue of the journal, is available online via institutional subscription at Project Muse.)

Faust recently appeared on a PBS News Hour panel along with historians Edna Medford (Howard University) and Walter Edgar (University of South Carolina). The trio discussed the evolution of scholarly understanding about the war, the current disconnect between scholarly opinion and public opinion on the cause of the war, the recent history of the Confederate battle flag, and the legacy of the war.

The transcript and MP3 are available at the PBS site.

The video clip below begins with a segment from Ken Burns’s Civil War documentary. The panel discussion begins around the 3:00 mark. Total running time = 14:34.