Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture
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
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