Patriotism by Proxy


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

At the height of the American Civil War in 1863, the Union instated the first-ever federal draft. In Patriotism by Proxy, Colleen Boggs develops a new understanding of the connections between American lives and American literature by focusing on this historic moment when the military transformed both. Paired with the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 draft inaugurated new relationships of the nation to its citizens and of citizens to one another. The draft laid bare social divisions when wealthy draftees hired substitutes as proxies to serve in their stead. Censorship and the suspension of habeas corpus prohibited free discussions over the draft’s significance, making literary devices and genres a primary means for deliberating over the changing meanings of representation and citizenship. In this presentation, Boggs discusses how novels, poems, letters, and newspaper editorials shed light on what it meant to be a citizen-soldier.


Colleen Glenney Boggs is the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities at Dartmouth College. A scholar of nineteenth-century American literature, she has particular expertise in the literature of the American Civil War, animal studies, transatlantic studies, literary theory, and gender studies. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Mellon Foundation, she is the author of Patriotism By Proxy: The Civil War Draft and the Cultural Formation of Citizen-Soldiers, 1863–1865 (Oxford, 2020), Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity (Columbia, 2013), and Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation 1773–1892 (Routledge, 2007). She edited Options for Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War (MLA, 2016), and coedits Edinburgh Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures. A member of the MLA Publications Committee, she has also served on the PMLA editorial board and as director of the Leslie Humanities Center. Boggs held an AAS-NEH Fellowship in 2015–16 was elected to membership in the Society in 2019.