Carole Emberton


Carole Emberton.

Carole Emberton


Carole Emberton



19th century United States History; Civil War and Reconstruction; Southern History; Gender and Sexuality; Historical Memory; African American History; History of Slavery and Emancipation


  • PhD, Northwestern University, 2006
  • MA, Loyola University Chicago, 1999
  • BA, University of Chicago, 1997

Research Interests

My research focuses on the Civil War era, broadly considered. Thematically, I’m interested in how violence shapes our social, political, and cultural worlds both past and present. My first book, Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013),

explores how the violence of a protracted civil war shaped the meaning of freedom and citizenship in the new South. I trace the competing meanings that “redemption” held for Americans as they tried to come to terms with the war and the changing social landscape. While some imagined redemption from the brutality of slavery and war, others—like the infamous Ku Klux Klan—sought political and racial redemption for their losses through violence. Beyond Redemption merges studies of race and American manhood with an analysis of post-Civil War American politics to offer unconventional and challenging insight into the violence of Reconstruction.

My new research project grew out of Beyond Redemption. It is a study of ex-slaves’ historical memory of the war and emancipation. Tentatively entitled, A Folk History of Freedom, this study examines the complex and controversial testimonies of ex-slaves collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s. Bridging the history of the Civil War with the New Deal, this study stretches back and forth through time to consider not only the lived experience of the war among the South’s rural black population but also the creation of this important archive of slavery and its political implications in the decades leading to the Civil Rights Movement.

Selected Publications

Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence and the American South after the Civil War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013)

"Only Murder Makes Men: Reconsidering the Black Military Experience," Journal of the Civil War Era, 2, NO . 3 (2012):

* Awarded the best article prize for 2012 in the Journal of the Civil War Era

“The Limits of Incorporation: Violence, Gun Rights, and Gun Regulation in the Reconstruction South,” Stanford Law and Policy Review 17, no. 3 (2006): 615-34.

“Reconstructing Loyalty: The Problem of Allegiance in Post-Civil War America," in Reconstruction: The Unfinished Business of the Civil War, Paul Cimbala and Randall Miller, eds. (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007).

On History News Network:

The Real Origins of America’s Gun Culture” (1-14-13)

The Roots of White Rage” (7-22-13)

In the New York Times “Disunion” series:

Edward and the Elephant

The Minister of Death


  • NEH Public Scholar, 2018
  • Willie Lee Rose Prize for best book in southern history from the Southern Association of Women Historians, 2014
  • George and Ann Richards Prize, Society of Civil War Historians, for the Best article published in 2012 in the Journal of the Civil War Era
  • Faculty Fellow, Humanities Institute, University at Buffalo, Spring 2009
  • Mellon Visiting Research Fellowship, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, 2008
  • Joel Williamson Visiting Scholar Grant, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2008.
  • Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo, two grants, 2008-09
  • Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2003-04
  • Huntington Fellowship, Huntington Library, 2003
  • Albert J. Beveridge Grant, American Historical Association, 2003
  • Deep South Regional Humanities Center Summer Dissertation Fellowship, Tulane University, 2003
  • Archie K. Davis Fellowship, North Caroliniana Society, 2003
  • John Hope Franklin Research Grant, Duke University, 2003