Crossroads : roadside accident memorials in and around Austin, Texas

Everett, Holly Jeannine (1998) Crossroads : roadside accident memorials in and around Austin, Texas. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF (Migrated (PDF/A Conversion) from original format: (application/pdf)) - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (30Mb)
  • [img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

This thesis considers issues in belief and material culture studies in an examination of roadside cross memorials in and around the city of Austin, Texas. Thirty-five memorial sites, including both Mothers Against Drunk Driving crosses, which are erected through the Texas Department of Transportation, and others constructed by private citizens, are featured in descriptions and photographs. -- The first two chapters provide the historical and current context for the appearance of vernacular memorials and discuss a number of memorials, both informal and formal, in North America and Europe, including roadside crosses in other areas of Texas. Chapter three details Austin's crosses, noting dominant patterns in construction and assembly and providing a thorough inventory of memorial offerings. Items placed at many of the crosses reflect an ongoing dialogue with the deceased (notes, inscriptions on bridge railings), and the continuation of missed celebrations (toys, homecoming mums, graduation tassels). The memorials thus become representative not only of the mystery of death, but of the deceased themselves. -- In chapters four and five, Austin area residents consider their involvement with, and perceptions of, various memorial assemblages. Informant responses are analyzed in terms of vernacular, domestic religious expression, political activism and grief processes. A number of roadside memorial assemblages contain elements more often associated with seasonal home and yard adornment, a manner of decoration which allows bereaved individuals to incorporate the dead into the world of the living, and vice versa. -- Whereas contemporary funeral custom and landscape emphasizes the difference between the deceased and those who mourn, roadside cross memorials present a more universally active, and thus affective threshold. Individuals mourning the sudden death of a loved one must negotiate a complex field of emotion, often dealing not only with their own grief, but that of other relatives and friends of the deceased. Additionally, magico-religious beliefs may be called into question and/or reaffirmed, as are individual priorities and expectations. In an effort to incorporate an unexpected loss, a number of my informants maintain memorial assemblages as places of intimacy and community, sacred spaces in which death may be contemplated, and life celebrated.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/913
Item ID: 913
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 206-218
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: United States--Texas--Austin
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Memorials--Texas--Austin; Violent death--Folkore; Crosses--Texas--Austin; Traffic accidents--Texas--Austin

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics