A pilgrim-critic at places of public memory: Anna Dickinson’s southern tour of 1875

Sara C. VanderHaagen*, Angela G. Ray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This essay examines accounts of visits to Civil War prison sites, cemeteries, and battlefields that were generated by the popular speaker Anna E. Dickinson during an 1875 lecture tour of Southern states. An ardent Unionist, Dickinson visited places that she believed to exemplify Union sacrifice and Confederate wrongdoing. We analyze her accounts—captured in letters to her mother—in order to understand how this rhetorically skilled public figure used these visits as opportunities for invention and interpretation, generating textual responses oriented toward public memory-making. We argue that her letters enact what we call a pilgrim-critic persona, which both demonstrates an affective connection to places and undertakes a critical investigation of what happened there. Employing the concept of the pilgrim-critic enables this analysis to contribute to rhetorical studies of public memory by highlighting the inventional resources used when visitors interpret their experiences of memory places.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-374
Number of pages27
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2014


  • Invention
  • Pilgrim-Critic
  • Place
  • Public Memory
  • U.S. Civil War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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