Berry, Stephen (Stephen W. Berry, II, Stephen William Berry, II)
Berry, Stephen (Stephen W. Berry, II, Stephen William Berry, II)
Education: Rollins College, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1990; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D., 2000.
Writer and professor. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, research assistant, 1990-92; Stanley H. Kaplan, Inc., GRE preparation course instructor, 1990-99; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Center for the Study of the American South, publications specialist, 1995-99, visiting professor, 2000; University of North Carolina at Pembroke, assistant professor, coordinator of the American Studies Program, 2001—. Freelance Web designer, 1997-2001; Institute for Research in Social Science, assistant network administrator, 1999-2001; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill History Club, faculty advisor.
Outstanding Student of History, Rollins College, 1990; Mellon Dissertation Fellow, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 1995; Dissertation Fellow, University of North Carolina, 1997; Doris J. Quinn Fellow, 1998; C. Ballard Breaux Visiting Fellowship, Filson Historical Society, 2005; Outstanding Teaching Award, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 2004; National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, 2006.
House of Abraham, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
Contributor to books, including The Companion to Nineteenth Century America, Blackwell, 2000. Contributor to periodicals, including, North & South, Georgia Historical Quarterly, and Southern Cultures.
From letters and diaries of Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War, Stephen Berry constructed his first book, All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South, published in 2003. The book's aim is to illustrate how, in the "hypermasculinized" culture of the South during that era, women were praised and adored for not only their sacrifices and work, but also for how their presence and existence gave soldiers purpose. The book has three parts, the first discussing the definition of masculine goals, the second covering nineteenth-century interactions between men and women, and the third addressing the social constructs of warfare. In a review for the Journal of Social History, Steven M. Stowe wrote that Berry's "engrossing and well-written study of southern men's embrace of love and ambition, reminds us that men's extravagant image of women took shape before and during the war, not afterwards." Stowe went on to write, "Berry aims to be suggestive rather than exhaustive; his interpretation is more provocative than nailed-down-tight. This approach is refreshing, and appropriate to the elusive, fascinating twists and turns of men's emotional lives." He concluded that All That Makes a Man is "an insightful, thought-provoking study of emotional life, gender, and warfare which adds substantially to our understanding of these matters in the American Civil War. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews found the work to be "respectful but dispassionate," and concluded that while the book was not "lively," it was "a useful contribution to the scholarly literature."
Following a four-year break in publication Berry released an edited volume, Princes of Cotton: Four Diaries of Young Men in the South, 1848-1860, in 2007. The book is closely related in subject matter to All That Makes a Man. The full title of Princes of Cotton is relatively self-explanatory, and the diaries included are written by John Coleman, Harry Dixon, Henry Hughes, and Henry Craft (all white men and slave owners). All of the men were between seventeen and twenty-five years of age at the time they were writing their diaries, and they were living in either South Carolina or Mississippi. Given the time period in which the diaries were written, the selections provide insight on the men's attitudes toward women, owning slaves, and farming cotton. As a Reference & Research Book News critic noted, the diaries illuminate "how masculinity was constructed, transformed, interpreted and internalized" in the years surrounding the Civil War. Notably, the book can be read as something of a companion to Michael O'Brien's 1993 book An Evening When Alone: Four Journals of Single Women in the South, 1827-67 (the men Berry features were also single). Although Scott P. Culclasure, writing in the Journal of Southern History, observed that "concepts of masculinity depend on so many variables that one hesitates to make too great a claim for what these four diaries by themselves can reveal," he still found much of value in the book. Indeed, he noted the "helpful introduction" that "highlights issues that emerge from" the diaries, and added that "Berry has carefully annotated the nearly five hundred pages with dozens of explanatory notes that assist the reader in keeping track of family members, places, and literary references."
The same year that Princes of Cotton was published, Berry's House of Abraham was also released. Like the books that preceded it, this book is rooted in the Civil War. Rather than focus on the topic of masculinity, however, Berry discusses Abraham Lincoln's in-laws, the Todds. The family of Mary Todd, Lincoln's wife, was representative of the way in which the Civil War affected families. Indeed, of Todd and her siblings, six were pro-Union, while the remaining eight siblings were pro-Confederacy. Thus, Berry paints a portrait of a family torn apart by the Civil War and, as was noted by critics, the portrait is all the more remarkable given the family's relationship to Abraham Lincoln. Berry additionally looks at Mary Todd's extended family and the extended family's casualties in the war, while also examining Lincoln's marriage in the process. Reviewers found much of value in the book, and some were pleasantly surprised to find that House of Abraham is the first scholarly work to address the Todd family. For instance, a Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "a compelling collective biography of the Kentucky in-laws of Abraham Lincoln," adding that the volume is "a riveting account of the bluegrass bluebloods who embodied Lincoln's prewar notion of a ‘house divided’ more than he ever expected." A Publishers Weekly reviewer was also impressed, calling the book "a fast-paced, sobering story, never better told, of the pains of a clan and their significance for American history."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Civil War Times, April 1, 2003, Peter S. Carmichael, review of All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South, p. 68.
Journal of Social History, spring, 2004, Steven M. Stowe, review of All That Makes a Man, p. 796.
Journal of Southern History, May 1, 2008, Scott P. Culclasure, review of Princes of Cotton: Four Diaries of Young Men in the South, 1848-1860, p. 452.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of All That Makes a Man, p. 1666; September 1, 2007, review of House of Abraham.
Publishers Weekly, September 3, 2007, review of House of Abraham, p. 50.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2007, review of Princes of Cotton.
University of North Carolina at Pembroke Web Site,http://www.uncp.edu/ (August 21, 2008), author profile.