Document Type


Publication Date

January 2006


This essay explores how museums, public memory, and authenticity intersect to privilege an understanding of the past. Reflecting White control over the promotion of blues music, the curators at the Delta Blues Museum, located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, employ two rhetorical strategies to satisfy the expectations of (White) tourists who share culturally specific memories of the blues. First, the museum's rhetorical depiction of blues artists reflects White fascination with the mythic image of the primitive blues subject. Second, the exhibit recreates an early 20th century Delta society to complement tourism goals to market the Mississippi Delta as America's last remaining “pure” blues culture. In the conclusion, implications for rhetorical scholars interested in studying the symbolic dimensions of authenticity are discussed.


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