Epideictic Space: Community, Memory, and Future Invention at Civil War Tourist Sites

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation examines American Civil War tourist spaces in order to describe how epideictic rhetoric has distinct spatial functions that affect the identity of tourists. Through an analysis of three Civil War spaces in Virginia--Lexington, Appomattox Court House, and the Museum of the Confederacy--I argue epideictic space is a locus of invention that has the performative power to create community, public memory, and a vision of the future through the movement of bodies in space. Through a consubstantial ethos established between space and audience, epideictic creates kairotic space and time by collapsing past, present, and future in order to create a narrative history with which the community can identify. This study traces rhetoric related to the Confederate flag, slavery, nationalism, and reconciliation through an analysis of the Civil War spaces in which these discourses are embodied. I suggest that creating a productive rhetoric of blame starts through connecting blame, such as remembering slavery, to the materiality of space and through creating narratives of responsibility that connect memory to a vision of the future.

epideictic rhetoric, space, public memory, tourism, narrative, American Civil War