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Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era (New Southern Studies)by Arthur Remillard
Synopses & Reviews
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Lost Cause gave white southerners a new collective identity anchored in the stories, symbols, and rituals of the defeated Confederacy. Historians have used the idea of civil religion to explain how this powerful memory gave the white South a unique sense of national meaning, purpose, and destiny. The civil religious perspectives of everyone else, meanwhile, have gone unnoticed.
Arthur Remillard fills this void by investigating the civil religious discourses of a wide array of people and groups—blacks and whites, men and women, northerners and southerners, Democrats and Republicans, as well as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Focusing on the Wiregrass Gulf South region—an area covering north Florida, southwest Georgia, and southeast Alabama—Remillard argues that the Lost Cause was but one civil religious topic among many. Even within the white majority, civil religious language influenced a range of issues, such as progress, race, gender, and religious tolerance. Moreover, minority groups developed sacred values and beliefs that competed for space in the civil religious landscape.
Book News Annotation:
This interesting work on religion and the public sphere examines the role of faith based discussions of social good in the American south at the turn of the nineteenth century. Arranged to explore the dichotomous relationships between opposing forces, the work discusses topics such as progressive and traditional voices on reconstruction and redemption, Jews and gentiles on the soul of American, black and white voices on race and place, and Catholics versus nativists on the nature of true American identity. The text includes demographic data for the region. Remillard is a professor of religious studies at Saint Francis University, Pennsylvania. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Arthur Remillard is an assistant professor of religious studies at Saint Francis University. He has served as the managing editor and book review editor for the Journal of Southern Religion since 2002.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Competing Visions of the Good Society
One. Progressive Voices, Traditional Voices: Reconstruction, Redemption, and the "Gospel of Material Progress"
Two. Black Voices, White Voices: The Race Problem as a Place Problem
Three. Female Voices, Male Voices: Devotion and the "Noble Daughters of the South"
Four. Jewish Voices, Gentile Voices: "The Soul of America Is the Soul of the Bible"
Five. Catholic Voices, Nativist Voices: True and Untrue Americans
Afterword. What If?
Appendix. Population Data for the South and Wiregrass Region
What Our Readers Are Saying
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century