Laura Mammina

Laura Mammina

For several years, Laura Mammina, a University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor of history, has worked toward presenting a tribute to a beloved history advisor.

That tribute, in the form of a collection of essays, is now a published book called “American Discord: The Republic and Its People in the Civil Era.”

“There is a lot of interest in the Civil War, and there are various topics that the general public would find interesting,” Mammina said. “The book has so many different aspects that I think people would find compelling.”

“American Discord: The Republic and Its People in the Civil Era,” is a collection of essays written by established and emerging scholars. The essays examine critical aspects of the Civil War era, such as rhetoric and nationalism, politics, violence, gender, race and religion. Mammina is one of three editors of the collection, which is published by Louisiana State University Press.

The book has been in the works since about 2015, when Mammina was a graduate student at the University of Alabama. Her dissertation advisor, George Rable, was planning to retire, and one of Mammina’s colleagues suggested giving Rable a collection of essays as a retirement gift. This type of gift is also known as a “festschrift,” a collection of writings published in honor of a scholar. Rable’s research interests include southern history and the Civil War.

“I wanted to give him something meaningful and something he would enjoy,” Mammina said.

Mammina and more than a dozen other former Rable students and established scholars collaborated on the book. Mammina also contributed an essay to the collection, in which she closely examines how Union soldiers and southern women interacted during the Civil War.

She found that soldiers and women, particularly African-Americans, linked ideas about the home and men’s and women’s gender roles to an expanded definition of citizenship.

The book was a surprise gift. Rable, who retired in 2016, said Mammina and his former students announced the project about three years ago during a reception at the Southern Historical Association meeting in Dallas. Rable said he was touched because he understands the amount of work that goes into putting together a volume of essays.

“I am very proud of my students and friends who were involved in this collection. It’s a touching experience, and I can’t think of a better retirement gift,” Rable said. “Laura was an outstanding student of mine, a good person with a great sense of humor. I am very grateful for such a gift and students.”

Mammina said she is proud of the work she and the essayists accomplished for the book. This is her first published book.

“This is a project that has come a long way, and I am very excited for others to read it,” Mammina said.

“American Discord: The Republic and Its People in the Civil Era,” is available to purchase through the LSU Press website and Amazon.

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