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Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture

{Holly Everett}
Holly Everett

By Holly Everett
A 15-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.

Ms. Everett documents over 35 memorial sites with 25 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 evokes. 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.

Sylvia Grider, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, called Roadside Crosses "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.";

Holly Everett lived in Texas for 28 years before moving to Newfoundland where she is presently a doctoral candidate and Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University. Her work on roadside crosses, commitment rings, and classical music radio has been published in scholarly journals and conference proceedings.

Roadside Crosses is published by University of North Texas Press and is available at www.unt.edu/untpress/.

[Image of Book Cover]

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}