Reading Confederate Monuments
A timely engagement with Confederate monuments and meaning-making in a literary context
Contributions by Danielle Christmas, Joanna Davis-McElligatt, Garrett Bridger Gilmore, Spencer R. Herrera, Cassandra Jackson, Stacie McCormick, Maria Seger, Randi Lynn Tanglen, Brook Thomas, Michael C. Weisenburg, and Lisa Woolfork
Reading Confederate Monuments addresses the urgent and vital need for scholars, educators, and the general public to be able to read and interpret the literal and cultural Confederate monuments pervading life in the contemporary United States.
The literary and cultural studies scholars featured in this collection engage many different archives and methods, demonstrating how to read literal Confederate monuments as texts and in the context of the assortment of literatures that produced and celebrated them. They further explore how to read the literary texts advancing and contesting Confederate ideology in the US cultural imaginary—then and now—as monuments in and of themselves. On top of that, the essays published here lay bare the cultural and pedagogical work of Confederate monuments and counter-monuments—divulging how and what they teach their readers as communal and yet contested narratives—thereby showing why the persistence of Confederate monuments matters greatly to local and national notions of racial justice and belonging. In doing so, this collection illustrates what critics of US literature and culture can offer to ongoing scholarly and public discussions about Confederate monuments and memory.
Even as we remove, relocate, and recontextualize the physical symbols of the Confederacy dotting the US landscape, the complicated histories, cultural products, and pedagogies of Confederate ideology remain embedded in the national consciousness. To disrupt and potentially dismantle these enduring narratives alongside the statues themselves, we must be able to recognize, analyze, and resist them in US life. The pieces in this collection position us to think deeply about how and why we should continue that work.
"The turbulent events surrounding Confederate monuments represent a long and often-unspoken history of supporting racial violence, through a number of rationalizing narratives linked to white benevolence designed to erase Black counternarratives. This collection provides a novel and timely discussion of the challenges of racial reconciliation through careful attention to the rewriting of Confederate history to position the Civil War as a necessary event and Confederate leaders as passionate patriots."- David F. Green Jr., editor of Visions and Cyphers: Explorations of Literacy, Discourse, and Black Writing Experiences