On November 3, 2021, Stephen M. Monroe discussed his new book Heritage and Hate: Old South Rhetoric at Southern Universities as part of the History Is Lunch series.
Monroe argues that words, images, and symbols are not merely passive artifacts of southern history, but formative agents that influence human behavior and shape historical events. Drawing on research from disciplines including rhetoric, southern studies, history, sociology, and African American studies, Monroe develops the concept of confederate rhetoric: the collection of Old South words and symbols that have been and remain central to the identity conflicts of the South. He charts examples of such rhetoric at work in southern universities from Reconstruction to the present day.
“In the book I focus on predominantly white southern universities where Old South rhetoric still reverberates,” said Monroe. “In college towns like Oxford, Tuscaloosa, and Athens, communities continue to wrestle with this troubling legacy.”
“This study is an unusually timely one as the nation struggles with its Confederate heritage,” writes Charles Reagan Wilson, professor emeritus of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi and editor of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. “The study is especially perceptive in showing how seemingly harmless college traditions can represent racist symbolism and language that is hidden in plain sight.”
Stephen M. Monroe is chair and assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi. He earned his BA in English from the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga and his MA and PhD in English from the University of Mississippi.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.