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118Southern Cultures parcel of the national preoccupation with social and fraternal organizations. And too, "[I]t was the South's adoption of a Northern game (football) that provided a vehicle for the assertion of state and regional pride. ... As in so much else, modern innovations did not so much dilute Southern identity, as give it new, sharper focus." The social construction of Dixie suggests that Ayers's book might have been better titled The Invention ofthe New South. Nowhere is the act of invention more striking than in the creation of new musical forms—ragtime, country music, and the blues—and of a new religious movement—Pentecostal Holiness—out of materials that blended the archaic with the modern. Ayers's description of these new cultural forms defies brief summary, but he suggests —appropriately—that they offered a powerful critique of a southern orthodoxy that had grown even more entrenched with the white South's reunion with the nation. Writing in 1972 in the Journal ofSouthern History, Sheldon Hackney assessed the durability of Origins and concluded that "the pyramid still stands." Twenty years later Edward Ayers has not so much toppled the edifice as he has built another beside it. This is a different kind of book about the same New South, one that emphasizes the private over the public sphere, that stresses contingency and multiple causation, and that mines the rich lode of scholarship produced since 1951 to give us a far more complete picture than was possible forty years ago. Without questioning the creativity of Woodward or Ayers, it is fair to say that both books are the product of their times. Woodward wrote as the age of the "redeemers" was finally coming to an end, and indeed he helped chip away the last vestiges of their power. In the decades since Origins, the distinctiveness of the South has faded, forcing the seeker of southernness to look more and more to those places where an Old South is being reinvented out of modern materials—Southern Living magazine, for example, or entertainments gotten up for the tourist trade, or televised debates about Confederate battle flags. Ayers's work is strong where Woodward's is weakest—religion, for example, and the interplay of family, gender, race, and economics. But we do well to remember Woodward 's focus on the struggle for power in a political realm that was tied to private spheres of race and production, of family and community. Missing from Ayers's account is a serious treatment of the struggles that continued through the 1880s between the redeemers and Reconstruction-era coalitions of the past or of movements of "producers" such as the Knights of Labor and kindred groups which, until the mid-1880s, threatened redeemer control, and the crushing of which served as a dress rehearsal for the Democrats' war on Populism. All this is to say that Ayers has constructed a new pyramid, one that gracefully integrates current scholarship on the post-Reconstruction South and that will cast a long shadow over the continuing study of the subject. Morgan Sexton: Bull Creek Banjo Player. By Anne Johnson. 1/2" video format, 28 minutes , color. Appalshop Inc., 306 Madison Street, Whitesburg, KY 41858. Reviewed by Wayne Martin, Folklife Specialist with the North Carolina Arts Council. His work includes production of Etta Baker: One Dime Blues on the Rounder label, and Round the Heart of Old Galax, an anthology oftraditional stringband music issued by Country Records. Reviews1 19 Morgan Sexton (1911-1991)—logger, miner, and musician—lived all of his life in the coal country of southeastern Kentucky. As a boy, Sexton sang ballads and love songs learned from family members and local musicians. He also mastered a two-fingered method of picking the banjo that predated bluegrass. His playing style proved well suited for rendering instrumental dance tunes as well as accompanying his expressive singing. Sexton's artistry was extraordinary, and Anne Johnson's documentary film presents moving performances, shot both in his home and in concert hall and festival settings . The high-pitched, intense vocal style associated with Roscoe Holcomb and other traditional singers of the region was less pronounced with Sexton. Instead, his singing possessed a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 118-120
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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