Chapter

Streamers of Funereal Moss

Rebecca Cawood McIntyre

in Souvenirs of the Old South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036953
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038667 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813036953.003.0004
Streamers of Funereal Moss

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In the 1870s promoters of southern travel conceived of certain southern scenes, mainly swamps but also ruined plantations as evocative of grand, lost civilizations, as “gothic,” that is medieval, melancholy, and slightly grotesque. They created these scenes because they believed that their northern readers would find them irresistible, for both the ruined landscapes of the mythic past and the strange vegetative growths of the swamp fed off the same impulse: the northern need to both praise and marginalize the South. These same evidences of a lost golden age also appealed on a moral level. By evoking grandeur and melancholy, exoticism and death, tourism called to mind the tragic downfall of a once flourishing civilization. The origins of goth landscapes of the 1870s clearly are indebted to swamp iconography, the majority of it negative. From the beginning of United States colonization, swamps were not dark Edens but despised realities.

Keywords: swamps; plantations; landscapes; South; exoticism; tourism; civilization; goth; United States; colonization

Chapter.  9176 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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