Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture

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Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781574411508
Hardcover ISBN-10: 1574411500
Physical Description: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. 160pp. 25 photos. Appendixes. Notes. Bib. Index.
Publication Date: October 2002
Read excerpt: PDF

Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture is now available as a free e-book at the UNT Digital Library.

A fifteen-year-old high school cheerleader is killed while driving on a dangerous curve one afternoon. By that night, her classmates have erected a roadside cross decorated with silk flowers, not as a grim warning, but as a loving memorial.

In this study of roadside crosses, the first of its kind, Holly Everett presents the history of these unique commemoratives and their relationship to contemporary memorial culture. The meaning of these markers is presented in the words of grieving parents, high school students, public officials, and private individuals whom the author interviewed during her fieldwork in Texas.

Everett documents over thirty-five memorial sites with twenty-five photographs representing the wide range of creativity. Examining the complex interplay of politics, culture, and belief, she emphasizes the importance of religious expression in everyday life and analyzes responses to death that this tradition. Roadside crosses are a meeting place for communication, remembrance, and reflection, embodying on-going relationships between the living and the dead. They are a bridge between personal and communal pain—and one of the oldest forms of memorial culture.

Scholars in folklore, American studies, cultural geography, cultural/social history, and material culture studies will be especially interested in this study.

“Insightful and creative, Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture makes an important contribution to our understanding of vernacular folk practices. It will be of interest to anyone who cares about ritual, identity, and material culture.”—Giovanna P. Del Negro, Department of English, Texas A&M University

"Holly Everett’s book is a welcome and much-needed addition to the growing body of work concerning the modern phenomenon of spontaneous memorialization at the sites of murders, tragedies, and disasters. Thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated, the book will attract both casual readers and serious scholars.”—Sylvia Grider, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University

About Author:

HOLLY EVERETT lived in Texas for twenty-eight years before moving to Newfoundland, Canada, where she is assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her work on roadside crosses, commitment rings, and classical music radio has been published in scholarly journals and conference proceedings.