Date of Award

6-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Edwin Martini

Second Advisor

Dr. Wilson Warren

Third Advisor

Dr. Mitch Kachun

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

6-15-2025

Abstract

I argue that the Southern political realignment and the national conservative movement shaped and was shaped by country artists and their songs released during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. I also argue that including country music offers valuable contributions to the work of history and memory scholars, showing how country artists used memory to cope with and interpret current events, and how war inspired uses of memory in country music. During World War II, country artists established a national reputation for political activism and laid the foundation for how the genre would respond to future wars. Gene Autry and Roy Acuff used memory of World War II in songs defending General Douglas MacArthur after his 1951 dismissal by President Harry S. Truman. In the 1960s, country built firm alliances with politicians including Richard Nixon while defending the military and denouncing war protesters, sometimes using memory to communicate their messages. By the early 1970s, two super-hits, “Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?” and “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley,” demonstrated country music’s influence in rallying the conservative masses, culminating in 1980 with Ronald Reagan’s election as president.

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