A Lost Cause Found: Vestiges of Old South Memory in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation examines issues of neo-Confederate collective memory, heritage, and geographical imagination within the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I analyze a whole range of material cultural practices throughout the entire region centered on the memory of the Civil War including monuments, battlefields, museum exhibits, burial rituals, historical reenactments, paintings, and dramatic performances. These mnemonic sites and rituals throughout the Great Valley of Virginia serve to circulate a dominant and mythologized reading of the Civil War past, one that emphasizes the Lost Cause myth of the Confederacy. In addition to uncovering neo-Confederate forms of memorialization, I also examine how normative lessons of morality, honor, patriotism, masculinity, and hyper-militarism become naturalized as a result of Lost Cause remembrance. The dissertation combines qualitative, practice-based modes of research with a Foucauldian influenced archival methodology that attempts to uncover particular silenced and alternative versions of the past that do not fit with normative version of heritage.



cultural geography, collective memory, landscape, Shenandoah Valley, neo-Confederate nationalism., Foucault, heritage tourism, identity, Lost Cause