Featuring 92 images and line drawings
The Visible Confederacy is a comprehensive analysis of the commercially and government-generated visual and material culture of the Confederate States of America. While historians have mainly studied Confederate identity through printed texts, this book shows that Confederates also built and shared a sense of who they were through other media: theatrical performances, military clothing, manufactured goods, and an assortment of other material. Examining previously understudied and often unpublished visual and documentary sources, Ross A. Brooks provides new perspectives on Confederates' sense of identity and ideas about race, gender, and independence, as well as how those conceptions united and divided them.
Brooks's work complements the historiography surrounding the Confederate nation by revealing how imagery and objects offer new windows on southern society and a richer understanding of Confederate citizens. Brooks builds substantially upon previous studies of the iconology and iconography of Confederate imagery and material culture by adding a broader range of government and commercially generated images and objects. He examines not only popular or high art and government-produced imagery, but also lowbrow art, transitory theatrical productions, and ephemeral artifacts generated by southerners. Collectively, these materials provide a variety of lenses through which to explore and assay the various priorities, ideological fault lines, and worldviews of Confederate citizens.
Brooks's study is one of the first extensive academic works to use imagery and objects as the basis for studying the Confederate South. His work provides fresh avenues for examining Confederate ideas about race, slavery, gender, independence, and the war, and it offers insight into the intentions and factors that contributed to the creation of Confederate nationalism. The Visible Confederacy furthers our understanding of what the Confederacy was, what Confederates fought for, and why their vision has persisted in memory and imagination for so long beyond the Confederacy's existence. Visual and material culture captured not only the tensions, but also the illusions and delusions that Confederates shared.
Ross A. Brooks