Date of Award
Master of Arts
Jessi Grieser, Martin Griffin
With increasing frequency we read stories of hateful and violent outbursts that result in property damage, injury and even loss of life. Recently, many of these violent scenes have been set against the backdrop of Confederate memorial sites. What is it about these sites that inspire such violent responses? In my thesis, “Lee’s Last Stand: Story and Narrative in the Confederate Statue Conflict,” I theorize that these reactions are in response to conflicting narratives that call forth identity crises in their subjects. In many cases, southern identity is based on a reconstructed, and often inaccurate, memory of historical events, constructed for both commercial and sociopolitical reasons. This project examines the historical timeline, and tests the validity of this reconstructed memory through the analysis of Confederate memorial sites as material, rhetorical texts, using a method designed by Carole Blair. Through this method of analysis, I research and examine the stories told by three selected Confederate memorial sites, and how those stories interact with viewers' identities, often causing conflict, both internal and external. I conclude that the current conflict is grounded in the opposing narratives that groups have attached to the memorials in order to give legitimacy to their own stories and identities. It is further about the fear and anger that are evoked when a person’s framework is challenged. In response to these emotions, we need to promote an environment of mutual learning, listening, and healing. There is no community feeling about the Civil War and therefore no reconciliation. This thesis proposes that public Confederate memorial sites be transformed into community places of remembrance that represent an inclusive and accurate view of history.
Sutton, Abigail Gena, "LEE’S LAST STAND: STORY AND NARRATIVE IN THE CONFEDERATE STATUE CONFLICT. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2019.