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Enduring Legacy, Enduring Legacy, 081731752X, 0-8173-1752-X, 978-0-8173-1752-2, 9780817317522, , , Enduring Legacy, 0817385819, 0-8173-8581-9, 978-0-8173-8581-1, 9780817385811,

Enduring Legacy
Rhetoric and Ritual of the Lost Cause
by W. Stuart Towns

Trade Cloth
2012. 208 pp.
Price:  $39.95 s
E Book
2012. 208 pp.
Price:  $39.95 d

Rhetoric and ritual commemorating war has been a part of human culture for ages. In Enduring Legacy, W. Stuart Towns explores the crucial role of rhetoric and oratory in creating and propagating a “Lost Cause” public memory of the American South. 

Enduring Legacy explores the vital place of ceremonial oratory in the oral tradition in the South.  It analyses how rituals such as Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate veteran reunions, and dedication of Confederate monuments have contributed to creating and sustaining a Lost Cause paradigm for Southern identity.  Towns studies in detail secessionist and Civil War speeches and how they laid the groundwork for future generations, including Southern responses to the civil rights movement, and beyond.  The Lost Cause orators that came after the Civil War, Towns argues, helped to shape a lasting mythology of the brave Confederate martyr, and the Southern positions for why the Confederacy lost and who was to blame.  Innumerable words were spent—in commemorative speeches, newspaper editorials, and statehouse oratory—condemning the evils of Reconstruction, redemption, reconciliation, and the new and future South. Towns concludes with an analysis of how Lost Cause myths still influence Southern and national perceptions of the region today, as evidenced in debates over the continued deployment of the Confederate flag and the popularity of Civil War re-enactments.


W. Stuart Towns is a retired professor and department chair for the Communication Studies Department at Southeast Missouri State University.  He is the author of "We Want Our Freedom": Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement.

“By careful attention to the ceremonial settings and the persistence of the speech-making themes over several generations, the author shows how the status of the orators, the pervasiveness of the rituals, and the repetition of themes for so long created a new white-dominated southern public identity out of the social chaos, uncertainty, and despair at the end of the Civil War in the South.”--Charles Reagan Wilson is the Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis and Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1868-1920. He is also the editor of numerous books, among them the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

“No southern historian has ever brought such a wealth of source material to bear on a subject. Primary sources dominate the manuscript, in every chapter. The manuscript has a solid core of rhetorical/artifactual sources that, woven carefully together, never waiver from the centrality of Town’s thesis – Lost Cause rhetoric tells the story of the South. No other region of the country can make such a claim.”--Carl Kell is a professor of Communication at Western Kentucky University and the author of Against the Wind: The Moderate Voice in Baptist Life, coauthor of In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention and editor of Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War

S. A. Cunningham Award given by the Arkansas Sons of Confederate Veterans

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