When it comes to telling the story of our nation, UNC History Professor Kathleen DuVal says she is most fascinated by the stories that have not been told. Teaching her students about Christopher Columbus, she uses the first letter he wrote after arriving in the Americas.
“He said some surprising things,” says DuVal.
Her latest book, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, has won the Deep South Award, the Journal of the American Revolution’s Book of the Year Award, and was a finalist for the George Washington Prize. The book explores the narratives of eight stakeholders in the Gulf Coast during the Revolutionary War.
Full disclosure: The IAH staff began our seasonal book club in reading this book. And we loved it.
Though an award-winning author, DuVal really lights up when discussing Carolina students.
“They are smart and well-educated and ready to learn something new,” She said. “Every semester I get so many delights.”
She recently was honored with the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professorship, which supports excellence in undergraduate teaching.
Her favorite reading is historical fiction because “something a historian can write a paragraph about, a historical fiction writer can write a whole novel.”
DuVal cites as an example former student Katie Simpson Smith who wrote Free Men set in early America about a Creek Indian, an African Slave and a white man.
“It’s just wonderful to see her real stuff and the things that Carolina talked to her about, looking at different people in history and how they have different perspectives from each other,” said DuVal. “And then she makes it into a great novel.”
For more on the conversation, listen to the podcast below.