Carole Emberton, assistant professor of history at the University at Buffalo, is the recipient of the Richards Prize for the best article published in the 2012 edition of the Journal of the Civil War Era, the official journal of the Society of Civil War Historians.
The prize is presented by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, an initiative of the Penn State Department of History, considered a unique resource for interpreting and reflecting upon life in 19th-century America.
In presenting the award the selection committee praised Emberton’s piece as “powerful, beautiful, mind-expanding, almost philosophical…a model not merely of Civil War scholarship but of what historians can do when they are working at the top of their game.”
The winning essay, “Only Murder Makes Men: Reconsidering the Black Military Experience,” is a detailed and gripping exploration of how and why Civil War military service reconfigured black masculinity from that of slave to that of a free man.
Emberton argues that while the experiences of nearly 200,000 black Union soldiers paved the way for important civil rights reform, such as the passage of the 15th Amendment, which gave them the right to vote, the process helped create a hyper-masculine martial political culture that would have deadly consequences for freed slaves in the Reconstruction South.
The article appeared in the journal’s September 2012 issue and is online at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_the_civil_war_era/v002/2.3.emberton.html.