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The Mind of the Master Class

The Mind of the Master Class
History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview


  • Date Published: December 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521850650

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About the Authors
  • The Mind of the Master Class tells of America's greatest historical tragedy. It presents the slaveholders as men and women, a great many of whom were intelligent, honorable, and pious. It asks how people who were admirable in so many ways could have presided over a social system that proved itself an enormity and inflicted horrors on their slaves. The South had formidable proslavery intellectuals who participated fully in transatlantic debates and boldly challenged an ascendant capitalist ('free-labor') society. Blending classical and Christian traditions, they forged a moral and political philosophy designed to sustain conservative principles in history, political economy, social theory, and theology, while translating them into political action. Even those who judge their way of life most harshly have much to learn from their probing moral and political reflections on their times - and ours - beginning with the virtues and failings of their own society and culture.

    • Depicts the social leaders of the Old South as rejecting capitalist, bourgeois modernity
    • Argues that the Christian faith was critical for both the Southerners' critique of modern decadence and their defense of slavery
    • Documents the centrality of theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian moral reasoning in the mind of the master class
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese have given us a masterpiece of the historian's art. Every serious student of the American South and of American intellectual life must read it - now and for many years to come' The Times Literary Supplement

    'The Genoveses give us a learned, lucid, even luminous portrait of a worldview bought to ruin by the freeing of those on whose forced labour it rested.' The Times Literary Supplement

    '[Eugene D. Genovese] enlivened a stagnant field by bringing a Marxist analysis to the sectional conflict.' London Review of Books

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521850650
    • length: 824 pages
    • dimensions: 243 x 162 x 48 mm
    • weight: 1.308kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Cradled in the Storms of Revolution:
    1. 'That Terrible Tragedy'
    2. The age of revolution through slaveholding eyes
    3. 'The Purest Sons of Freedom'
    Entr'Acte: the bonds of slavery
    Part II. The Inescapable Past:
    4. History as moral and political instruction
    5. The slaveholders' quest for a history of the common people
    6. World history and the politics of slavery
    7. History as the story of freedom
    Part III. Ancient Legacies, Medieval Sensibility, Modern Men:
    8. In the shadow of antiquity
    9. Coming to terms with the Middle Ages
    10. The chivalry
    11. Chivalric slave masters
    12. Chivalric politics: Southern ladies take their stand
    Part IV. A Christian People Defend the Faith:
    13. A Christian people
    14. Unity and diversity among the faithful
    15. War over the Good Book
    16. Slavery: proceeding from the Lord
    17. The Holy Spirit in the word of God
    18. Jerusalem and Athens - against Paris
    19. Serpent in the garden: liberal theology in the South
    20. Theopolitics: golden rule, higher law, and slavery
    Coda: St. John of Pottawatamie
    Part V. At the Rubicon:
    21. Between individualism and corporatism: from the reformation to the war for Southern Independence
    22. Past and future Caesars
    Epilogue: King Solomon's dilemma.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • American History/Religion in America through Civil War
    • Graduate Readings in American History
    • History of Slavery
    • Rebellion and Recognition
  • Authors

    Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Emory University, Atlanta
    Elizabeth Fox-Genovese is Eléonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities at Emory University, where she was founding director of Women's Studies. She is Editor of The Journal of The Historical Society and serves on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities (2002–2008). In 2003 President George Bush honored her with a National Humanities Medal, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars honored her with its Cardinal Wright Award. Among her books and published lectures are: The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-Century France; Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South; and Feminism without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism.

    Eugene D. Genovese, University of Georgia
    Eugene D. Genovese, a retired professor of history, served as first president of The Historical Society. Among his books are Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made; The Slaveholders' Dilemma: Southern Conservative Thought, 1820-1860; and A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South. Fox-Genovese and Genovese serve on the editorial boards of a number of scholarly journals and are co-authors of Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism. In 2004 The Intercollegiate Studies Institute presented them jointly with its Gerhard Niemeyer Award for Distinguished Contributions to Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

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