Dr. Sarah Gardner

Distinguished University Professor of History

Sarah GardnerDr. Sarah Gardner fiercely champions the humanities, those fields of inquiry that encourage us to explore and document the human experience. The humanities train students to weigh competing claims, to evaluate evidence, and to develop compelling analyses. More to the point, they foster certain attributes and skills, such as moral discernment, empathy, and sociability. They provide us with a toolkit that helps us navigate the world, much like they have for millennia.


  • Ph.D., History, Emory University
  • M.A., History, Miami University
  • B.A., History, Miami University


Civil War Era America; U.S. Intellectual and Cultural History; Literary History/History of the Book; Nineteenth Century American History; The American South

Professional interests

Dr. Gardner regularly teaches courses on the American South, the Civil War Era, and on Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. She also contributes to Mercer’s Great Books Program.

She is currently working on a book project that examines reading habits and practices during the American Civil War. She is particularly interested in the ways in which the war’s participants strove to maintain their sense of humanity in the face of destruction and loss.

Professor Gardner has received more than 15 competitive research fellowships and grants to support her work.

Other interests

Jazz; baseball; coffee; mystery novels; and finely crafted cocktails.

Recent publications

Books and edited collections

  • Co-editor with Steven Stowe, “Insiders and Outsiders: New Directions in the Intellectual History of the American South.” Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021.
  • Co-editor with Natalie J. Ring, “The Lost Lectures of C. Vann Woodward.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  • Co-editor with Karen L. Cox, “Reassessing the 1930s South.” Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2018
  • “Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Southern Renaissance, 1920-1941.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017

Selected journal articles and essays

  • “The Brisk and Brilliant Matron of Chimborazo Hospital:” Phoebe Yates Pember’s Nurse Narrative, in Civil War Witnesses and Their Books: New Perspectives on Iconic Works, Gary Gallagher and Stephen Cushman, eds. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. 2021
  • “The Civil War in Memory,” in War in American Literature, Jennifer Haytock, editor, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  • “Never Just Witnesses: Reassessing Southern Women’s History in the United States,” Journal of Women’s History 32.3 (Fall 2020): 154-163.
  • With David Moltke-Hansen, “Southern Intellectual History,” in Reinterpreting Southern History, Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover, eds, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020.
  • Guest editor with Kathleen Diffley, “Expanding the Archive in Civil War Studies,” special issue of Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures Vol 70/71, No. 4, Fall 2017/18. Published in January 2020.
  • “Reading, Infirmity, and Suicide,” in Visions of Glory: The Civil War in Word and Image, Kathleen Diffley and Benjamin Fagan, eds, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2019.
  • “Southern Women and the Civil War,” in The Cambridge History of the American Civil War, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, editor, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • “Bookless Mississippi,” in Faulkner and Money, Jay Watson and James G. Thomas, Jr., eds. Oxford, Miss.: University of Mississippi Press, 2019.
  • “When Service is Not Enough: Charity’s Purpose in the Immediate Aftermath of the Civil War,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 9.1 (March 2019): 29-54.
  • “My Cave Life in Hospital,” in Civil War Places: Historians Reflect on Where They Visit and What They See, J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher, eds. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.
  • “ ‘Forget to Weep My Dead’: Mary Chesnut’s Civil War Reading,” in Civil War Writing: New Perspectives on Iconic Texts, Gary W. Gallagher and Stephen Cushman, eds., Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2019.
  • “Literature and Culture in the Post-Civil War Era,” in The Routledge History of Nineteenth-Century America, Jonathan D. Wells, editor. New York: Routledge Press, 2017.
  • “ ‘History in the Making’: The Early Years of the Georgia Historical Quarterly 101.2 (2017): 101-113.
  • “ ‘A Literary Criticism of Neurotic Literature’: The Saturday Review of Literature and Faulkner’s Sanctuary,” in Faulkner and Print Culture, Jay Watson, James G. Thomas, and Jamie Harker, editors. Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2017.
  • ‘The Secret of Vengeance’: Honor and Revenge in Andrew Lytle’s The Long Night” in The Field of Honor: Essays in Southern Character and American Identity, John Mayfield and Todd Hagstette, eds. Columbia, SC: The University of South Carolina Press, 2017.
  • “Mr. Cowley’ Southern Saga,” in Faulkner and History, Jay Watson and James G. Thomas, eds. Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2017.
  • “A Southerner in New York: James Agee and Literary Manhattan” in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men at 75: New Critical Responses, Michael Lofaro, ed. Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press, 2017.
  • “Civil War Memoir,” in The Cambridge History of Civil War Literature, Coleman Hutchison, ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015

Recent invited lectures

  • The Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Series, “Shakespeare Fights the Civil War,” October 14-16, 2021, hosted by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, Penn State University, State College, PA.
  • “The American Soldier is Decidedly a Reading Man,” University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, March 4, 2020.
  • “The Readers’ War,” St. Andrews University, St. Andrews, Scotland, October 10, 2019

Contact Dr. Sarah Gardner

(478) 301-2859
Office: Langdale Hall, Room 311