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Civil War CanonSites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina$
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Thomas J. Brown

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620954

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620954.001.0001

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The Steampunk Confederacy

The Steampunk Confederacy

Chapter:
(p.236) 7 The Steampunk Confederacy
Source:
Civil War Canon
Author(s):

Thomas J. Brown

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620954.003.0007

This chapter focuses on the Hunley submarine, which had sunk nose-first into the floor of Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863, taking its captain and crew with it. The Hunley became one of the most important vehicles through which Confederate memory addressed the process of technological change. The insistence of millennial Confederate memory that the Hunley was “literally fifty years ahead of her time” closely resembled the simultaneous steampunk fad, which used the mid-nineteenth century as a standpoint from which to imagine futuristic contraptions historically realized in later periods and different forms. Adapted from a steam boiler, the hand-cranked vessel aptly fit the pseudo-Victorian aesthetic. The promotion of the fish-boat addressed a culture enthralled by new devices for communication and entertainment. Once more aligning commemoration with technological change, South Carolina relaunched the H. L. Hunley as the flagship of the steampunk Confederacy.

Keywords:   Hunley submarine, Confederate memory, technological change, modernity, Confederate commemoration, fish-boat

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