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114Southern Cultures Even in the most meticulously researched local history, however, there are blind spots, and there is no help for the one most troubling to the scheme of this book: we learn who the "deviants" were only when they were prosecuted; we shall never know if there were others who were suffered to live in uninterrupted sin. It is impossible, in other words, to gauge exactly how airtight the patriarchy was. The sources also seem troublesome in another way: most of the stories are short (as indeed the book is), and there is a noticeable dearth of dramatic detail about particular unruly individuals. It is difficult to tell whether this reticence is entirely attributable to silences in the sources, or whether the author decided that her subjects had already been exploited enough and that they did not need to be exploited a second time by modern readers thirsty for juicy details. The book switches gears in the last two chapters, taking up women partisans in North Carolina's "inner Civil War." Opposition to the Confederate cause seems to have been women's most efficacious form of disorderly conduct, as it did help bring the Confederacy down; Bynum goes so far as to claim that women did "significantly alter the balance of power between warring men." She also credits the women's actions with having exposed the myth of feminine fragility. It was probably no coincidence, however, that women's most successful brand of unruliness was no direct affront to patriarchal authority. Instead, these were disaffected women who sided with local men against the more distant male agents of the Confederate government, in some cases out of Unionist principle, but more frequently as a matter of their families' survival. This last sort of unruliness was so different from the other two that it's not at first clear that it belongs in the same book. What finally unites all three varieties is that each gives cheer to those of us who value proof that the South was never entirely solid. Bynum, who has a gift for summary, puts it thus: "In each county, unruly women challenged the sacred beliefs that underpinned the slave order. They revealed that many respected white men abused rather than protected their wives; that not all white women were repulsed by black men; that slavery was not the natural condition for blacks; and that slaveholding and nonslaveholding whites did not all share a harmony of interests in a slaveholding republic." It is a sure thing that further evidence bearing on all these contentions waits in county and parish records across the South. Let's hope that further searches are inspired by this illuminating and thoughtful book. Home Ground: Southern Autobiography. Edited by J. Bill Berry. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991. 216 pp. Cloth, $29.95. Reviewed by Dolan Hubbard, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. A former Carolina Minority Postdoctoral Scholar at the University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill, he has recently completed a book Voices and Visions: The Sermon in the Making of the Black Literary Imagination. The thirteen essays in Home Ground explore ways in which "a sense of family and a sense of place are wedded in Southern autobiography." They blend the personal with the critical as they offer us an intimate critique of how the South shapes our imagination and makes us heir to a collective past. The South is recognized in the public mind as a site that defines the world in a particular politically loaded way, which is exactly why it is constructed , reconstructed, and contested. Reviews115 The South tells us something about ourselves, and that telling is most revealed in autobiography. We see the ways in which the historical past shapes and continues to exert pressure on consciousness. We see the interrelated corporeal issues of race, sexual orientation , and gender as the writers, black and white, struggle to make a fractured psyche whole. We see most clearly the discrepancy between the promise and the practice of America, buoyed by humanity's stubborn hope, insistent search for truth, love of beauty, and the triumph of the human spirit. The community of scholars who contributed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 114-116
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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