Dr. Stuart Towns will be discussing his recent book, Enduring Legacy: Rhetoric and Ritual of the Lost Cause. Enduring Legacy explores the vital place of ceremonial oratory in the oral tradition in the South. It analyzes 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. Dr. Towns studies in detail post–Civil War southern speeches and how they laid the groundwork for future generations, from 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 martyrs and of 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, and reconciliation, and praising the new and future South. Dr. 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 reenactments.
Founded March 1964, the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas meets the Fourth Tuesday each month January - November at 7:00 P.M. We are located at the Second Presbyterian Church - 600 Pleasant Valley Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas, 72227.