In this Book

Flashes of a Southern Spirit
summary

Flashes of a Southern Spirit explores meanings of the spirit in the American South, including religious ecstasy and celebrations of regional character and distinctiveness.

Charles Reagan Wilson sees ideas of the spirit as central to understanding southern identity. The South nurtured a patriotic spirit expressed in the high emotions of Confederates going off to war, but the region also was the setting for a spiritual outpouring of prayer and song during the civil rights movement. Arguing for a spiritual grounding to southern identity, Wilson shows how identifications of the spirit are crucial to understanding what makes southerners invest so much meaning in their regional identity.

From the late nineteenth-century invention of southern tradition to early twenty-first-century folk artistic creativity, Wilson examines a wide range of cultural expression, including music, literature, folk art, media representations, and religious imagery. He finds new meanings in the works of such creative giants as William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and Elvis Presley, while at the same time closely examining little-studied figures such as the artist/revivalist McKendree Long. Wilson proposes that southern spirituality is a neglected category of analysis in the recent flourishing of interdisciplinary studies on the South—one that opens up the cultural interaction of blacks and whites in the region.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface. Spirit and a New Southern Studies
  2. pp. ix-xvi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xvii-xx
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  1. Introduction. "The Soul-Life of the Land": Meanings of the Spirit in the U.S. South
  2. pp. 1-24
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  1. PART 1. TRADITION
  2. pp. 25-26
  1. One. The Invention of Southern Tradition: The Writing and Ritualization of Southern History, 1880-1930
  2. pp. 27-47
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  1. Two. The Burden of Southern Culture
  2. pp. 48-60
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  1. Three. Saturated Southerners: The South's Poor Whites and Southern Regional Consciousness
  2. pp. 61-76
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  1. Four. Our Land, Our Country: Faulkner, the South, and the American Way of Life
  2. pp. 77-92
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  1. Five. The Myth of the Biracial South
  2. pp. 93-114
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  1. Visualizing the Spirit
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  1. PART 2. CREATIVITY
  2. pp. 115-116
  1. Six. Beyond the Sahara of the Bozart: Creativity and Southern Culture
  2. pp. 117-127
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  1. Seven. Flashes of the Spirit: Creativity and Southern Religion
  2. pp. 128-145
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  1. Eight. The Word and the Image: Self-Taught Art, the Bible, the Spirit, and Southern Creativity
  2. pp. 146-162
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  1. PART 3. SPIRITUALITY
  2. pp. 163-164
  1. Nine. Apocalypse South: McKendree Long and Southern Evangelicalism
  2. pp. 204-216
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  1. Ten. "Just a Little Talk with Jesus": Elvis Presley, Religious Music, and Southern Spirituality
  2. pp. 178-192
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  1. Eleven. Richard Wright's Pagan Spain: A Southern Protestant Abroad
  2. pp. 193-203
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  1. Twelve. A Journey to Southern Religious Studies
  2. pp. 204-216
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  1. Afterword. Constructing and Experiencing the Spirit
  2. pp. 217-220
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 221-244
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 245-249
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