Elizabeth R. Varon

Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History and Associate Director, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History


Nau 395
Office Hours: Mondays 11:30-1:00 in Nau 395 & Tuesdays 10:00-11:30 in Nau Civil War Center 304

Field & Specialties

American South
Civil War Era
Women’s and Gender History
Intellectual and Cultural History

Education

Ph.D., Yale University, 1993.
B.A., Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, 1985.

 

ELIZABETH R. VARON is Associate Director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History and Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia.  Varon grew up in northern Virginia. She received her PhD from Yale, and has held teaching positions at Wellesley College and Temple University.  A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, Varon is the author of We Mean to be Counted:  White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (1998); Southern Lady, Yankee Spy:  The True Story of  Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent  in the Heart of the Confederacy (2003), Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 (2008) and Appomattox:  Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (2013).  Southern Lady, Yankee Spy won three book awards and was named one of the “Five Best” books on the “Civil War away from the battlefield” in the Wall Street Journal.  Appomattox won the 2014 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction, the 2014 Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize for Civil War History (Austin Civil War Roundtable), and the 2014 Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies of the New York Military Affairs Symposium, and was named one of Civil War Monitor’s “Best Books of 2014” and one of National Public Radio’s “Six Civil War Books to Read Now.”  Varon’s public presentations include book talks at the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield; and at Gettysburg’s Civil War Institute; and on C-Span’s Book TV. Her next book, Armies of Deliverance:  A New History of the Civil War, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2019.

Publications

Books

Appomattox:  Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859.   Volume I of series "Littlefield History of the Civil War Era."  Littlefield Fund for Southern History and University of North Carolina Press, Fall 2008.

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy:  The True Story of  Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent  in the Heart of the Confederacy. Oxford University Press, Fall 2003.

We Mean to be Counted:  White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia.  Chapel Hill:  University of   North Carolina Press, 1998.

Recent Journal Articles and Book chapters

“Southern Women and Politics int he Civil War Era,” in Counterpoints:  Women and the Civil War, edited by Judith Giesberg and Randall Miller (Kent State University Press, 2018).

“The Last Hour of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion:  African American Discourse on Lee’s Surrender,” in Petersburg to Appomattox: The End of the War in Virginia, edited by Caroline Janney (University of North Carolina Press, 2018).

“Veteran, Author, Activist: Joseph T. Wilson of Norfolk and Black Leadership in the Civil War Era,” in Reconstruction and the Arc of Racial (In)Justice, edited by Julian Maxwell Hayter and George R. Goethals (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018).

"City Point, Virginia:  Nerve Center of the Union War Effort," in Gary Gallagher and J. Matthew Gallman, eds., Lens of War (Athens:  University of Georgia Press, fall 2014).

"The Method in her Madness:  Contested Narratives of the Life of Civil War Spy Elizabeth Van Lew" in Cynthia Kierner and Sandy Treadway, eds., Virginia Women:  Their Lives and Times (University of Georgia Press, forthcoming 2014).

“’Save in Defense of My Native State’:  A New Look at Robert E. Lee’s Decision to Join the Confederacy,” in Robert Cook, ed., Conflicted Minds:  New Perspectives on the Secession Crisis of 1860-1861, (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2014).

“Millard Fillmore and the Taming of Sectional Tensions,” in A Companion to the Antebellum Presidents, 1837-1861, ed. Joel Silbey (Wiley-Blackwell Press, forthcoming 2013).

“’Beautiful Providences’: William Still, the Vigilance Committee, and Abolitionists in the Age of   Sectionalism” in Antislavery and Abolition in Philadelphia, ed.  Richard Newman (Louisiana State University Press, 2012), pp. 229-246

“Gender History and the Origins of the Civil War,” Organization of American Historians Magazine of History 25 (April 2011): 19-24.

 

 

 

Internet and Popular Press Publications

“No Mr. President, Both Sides Aren’t to Blame for Charlottesville—Or the Civil War,” Op-ed in Washington Post “Made by History” series, August 16, 2017 .https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/08/16/no-mr-president-both-sides-arent-to-blame-for-charlottesville-or-the-civil-war/?utm_term=.cd69f0d2e905

“From Carter’s Mountain to Morganza Bend:  A U.S.C.T. Odyssey,” Pts. I-III http://naucenter.as.virginia.edu/blog-page/406

“Lee Surrendered, but His Lieutenants Kept Fighting,” New York Times Opinion Pages, April 9, 2015, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/lee-surrendered-but-his-lieutenants-kept-fighting/?_r=0#

“New Year’s Day, 1864,” New York Times Opinion Pages, Jan. 2, 2014:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/new-years-day-1864/?_r=0

“Women at War,” New York Times Opinion Pages, Feb. 1, 2011:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/women-at-war/

 

Media Appearances

For list of C-Span appearances see:  https://www.c-span.org/person/?elizabethvaron

Current Research

Books in Progress

Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, Oxford University Press, forthcoming February 2019.

New Perspectives on the Union War, (co-editor with Garry Gallagher) under contract with Fordham University Press.

 

Awards & Honors

For Appomattox: 

Library of Virginia Literary Prize for Nonfiction, 2014

Laney Prize, Austin Civil War Roundtable, 2014

Eugene Feit Award, NYMAS, 2014

Civil War Monitor Best Books of 2014

“Six Civil War Books to Read Now,” Diane Rehm Show, NPR

Finalist, Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award

For Southern Lady, Yankee Spy:

Named one of the “Five Best” books on the “Civil War away from the battlefield” in Wall Street Journal, October 2008.

Lillian Smith Award by Southern Regional Council, Fall 2004.

People’s Choice Award of Library of Virginia/James River Writers Festival, Fall 2004.

Richard Slatten Prize for Excellence in Virginia Biography, Virginia Historical Society, April 2004.

 

Courses Taught

Rise and Fall of the Slave South

Origins of the American Civil War

Women and Gender in the Civil War Era

American Intellectual and Cultural History, 1776-1918

American Revolutions, 1776-1840

Women and Gender in the American South

Race and Ethnicity in American History

History of the United States, 1607-1877

Introduction to American Studies

American Social and Cultural History

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

  

Contact:
(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts