What are the relationships between social mobility and spatial mobility in American culture? In what ways do we associate movement—the ability to go anywhere and be anyone—with freedom? How do these relationships change when women are the ones on the move?
In 1870, three-quarters of the United States lived in rural areas; by 1920, over half the nation lived in cities. How, if at all, did religious communities change their inherited traditions in the midst of new surroundings?
Christopher D. Cantwell, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Daniel Greene, Newberry Library
What are Lincoln's arguments against slavery? What distinctions do Lincoln and other white Northerners draw between ending the institution of slavery, saving the Union, and achieving racial equality? What feelings and concerns do writers and artists—both white and African American—express about the consequences of emancipation?
What are the connections between exploring new territories and making visual representations of those territories? How do artists relate to the territory's indigenous people? In what ways do mapmakers and artists promote, protect, or displace the cultures and landscapes they portray?
What are the boundaries of treason in times of war? Were the Copperheads traitors or merely exercising the right to criticize the government? To what extent did federal power increase during the Civil War? Was this expansion of power justified? Was it constitutional?
What were Western Christian religious beliefs, political relationships, and personal values during the Middle Ages? How did the motives, organization, and effects of the Crusades change over time? How have writers from the eleventh century on criticized the Crusaders’ goals and actions?
What arguments did writers make before the Civil War for the abolition of slavery? How did they frame their appeals in moral, social, political, and economic terms? How did the war’s purpose shift from “saving the union” to destroying slavery? What would freedom mean for former slaves, for Southern society, and for the nation as a whole, according to various writers both before and after the war?
What is the historical and literary context for Shakespeare’s representation of Prospero’s island and its inhabitants? How did Renaissance writers and artists portray the European exploration of the Americas? How did that exploration inspire their visions of an ideal society?