Look Away, Look Away, Look Away to Lexington: Struggles over Neo-Confederate Nationalism, Memory, and Masculinity in a Small Virginia Town
Abstract

This paper is a critical study of contemporary Lexington, Virginia, examining issues of collective memory and heritage within this traditional "mecca" of Confederate remembrance. My reading of Lexington is the result of ten years of fieldwork in the town from 2004 to 2010 and is designed to highlight and critique the continued dominance of neo-Confederate forms of nationalism and masculinity within the town's tourist sites and on the campuses of its two colleges, Washington and Lee University (W & L) and the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Lexington is perhaps best known for its association with the two most prominent Confederate "heroes" of the past, Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. My extended critical analysis of Southern masculinity at both universities links these prevailing forms of Old South masculinity in Lexington. Finally, this paper highlights how recent demographic and political changes in the town have resulted in public campaigns that challenge the dominance of neo-Confederacy in Lexington.


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