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Up to a third of each Harper’s Weekly issue was dedicated to various forms of literature, such as serialized novels, short stories, poetry, and book reviews.  Professor Kathleen Diffley, a specialist in Civil War periodical literature with the University of Iowa’s Department of English, has selected 15 of those stories for this website.  They highlight the literary treatment of how soldiers, black slaves, women, and children experienced the Civil War, and give insight into the societal assumptions, values, and expectations of the 500,000 readers of Harper’s Weekly.  In addition, relevant historical and military background from the journal’s news articles, editorials, illustrations, and cartoons has been included to provide today’s readers with the same journalistic context for each story available to readers of the Civil War era.

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