Date of Award
M.A. in Southern Studies
Charles Reagan Wilson
The following thesis traces the life of a song generally known as “I'm a Good Old Rebel” to explore the impact of popular culture on the creation of Civil War memory. Penned in the aftermath of Lee's surrender and containing lines like, “I hate the Yankee Nation / And everything they do; / I hate the Declaration / Of Independence, too,” the “Good Old Rebel” typifies a certain brand of white southern identity that refuses Confederate defeat and sounds a call to arms for continued rebellion against the federal government. To begin, this study creates a biographical sketch of the author, who composed the words as a poem in 1867. Unlike most works on Civil War memory, this work then places emphasis on the period since the turn of the twentieth century up to the present, delving into the trajectory of the “Good Old Rebel” from a poem to a folk song to its most recent life on the Internet. In this way, the “Good Old Rebel” functions as a case study to explore the ways in which popular culture codifies reactionary political attitudes and sustains white southern resistance towards racial and class equality. Embracing an interdisciplinary approach, this thesis engages with historical and sociological methodologies and theories to critique the image of the unreconstructed white southerner created, in part, by this song.
Thompson, Joseph Melvin, "I Won't Be Reconstructed: Good Old Rebels, Civil War Memory, And Popular Song" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 867.