Thomas J. Brown

War in America | Saturday, May 16, Saturday, May 16, 11:50 - 12:40, Carolina Meeting Room B
Genre(s) History Nonfiction

Thomas Brown has taught Civil War history at the University of South Carolina since 1996. He is the author of Dorothea Dix, New England Reformer (Harvard University Press, 1998), co-editor of Hope and Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), and editor of Remixing the Civil War: Meditations on the Sesquicentennial (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

Book Title: Civil War Canon: Sites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina

A Selection of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, Scientific American Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club 2

In this expansive history of South Carolina’s commemoration of the Civil War era, Thomas Brown uses the lens of place to examine the ways that landmarks of Confederate memory have helped white southerners negotiate their shifting political, social, and economic positions. By looking at prominent sites such as Fort Sumter, Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery, and the South Carolina statehouse, Brown reveals a dynamic pattern of contestation and change. He highlights transformations of gender norms and establishes a fresh perspective on race in Civil War remembrance by emphasizing the fluidity of racial identity within the politics of white supremacy.

Despite the conservative ideology that connects these sites, Brown argues that the Confederate canon of memory has adapted to address varied challenges of modernity from the war’s end to the present, when enthusiasts turn to fantasy to renew a faded myth while children of the civil rights era look for a usable Confederate past. In surveying a rich, controversial, and sometimes even comical cultural landscape, Brown illuminates the workings of collective memory sustained by engagement with the particularity of place.