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Bridging Southern Cultures

An Interdisciplinary Approach

John Lowe

Publication Year: 2005

A panorama of past and contemporary southern society are captured in Bridging Southern Cultures by some of the South’s leading historians, anthropologists, literary critics, musicologists, and folklorists. Crossing the chasms of demographics, academic disciplines, art forms, and culture, this exciting collection reaches aspects of southern heritage that previous approaches have long obscured. Virtually every dimension of southern identity receives attention here. William Andrews,Thadious Davis, Sue Bridwell Beckham, Richard Megraw, and Joyce Marie Jackson offer engaging reflections on art, age, race, and gender. Bertram Wyatt-Brown delivers a startling reading of Faulkner, revealing the tangled history of southern modernism. Daniel C. Littlefield, Henry Shapiro, and Charles Reagan Wilson provide important assessments of Africanisms in southern culture, Appalachian studies, and the blessing and burden of southern culture. John Shelton Reed probes the humorous and awkward aspects of the South’s midlife crisis. John Lowe shows how the myth of the biracial southern family complicated plantation-school narratives for both white and black writers. Showcasing the thought of preeminent southern intellectuals, Bridging Southern Cultures is a timely assessment of the state of contemporary southern studies.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Southern Literary Studies

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents, Illustrations

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pp. vii-xi


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pp. xiii

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Introduction: Constructing a Cultural Theory for the South

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pp. 1-28

Some years ago, when I was teaching in Massachusetts, I got a call from the chair of English at Louisiana State University, offering me a job. My northern friends congratulated me, saying they knew I must be happy about going “back home” after thirteen years...

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Preamble: The Study of Region

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pp. 29-36

To study region is to explore the relation between people and the places in which they live. The study can be approached from without as anthropologists examine cultures and places foreign to their own experience or from inside as artists and writers...

Part One: Southern Lives, Southern Cultures

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pp. 37-74

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In Search of a Common Identity: The Self and the South in Four Mississippi Autobiographies

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pp. 39-56

An article of faith among the first generation of southern literary modernists, writes Lewis Simpson, is “the truth that man’s essential nature lies in his possession of the moral community of memory and history.” Much has been written, of course, about...

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Reclaiming the South

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pp. 57-74

In discussing the origins of his classic study From Slavery to Freedom (1947) John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus at Duke University and former chairman of President Bill Clinton’s advisory board on race, talked about the need for the text in...

Part Two: Southern Culture and the Arts

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pp. 75-196

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William Faulkner: Art, Alienation, and Alcohol

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pp. 77-99

In 1958, a state senator of Mississippi expressed the mixture of horror and affection for liquor that had long bedeviled many of his constituents. Back then Mississippi was an officially dry state, where bootleggers were taxed as if they ran legitimate businesses...

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The Spunky Little Woman—You Can’t Be One If You’re White: Race, Gender, and a Little Bit of Class in Depression Post Office Murals

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pp. 100-132

Sadie burke, the executive secretary, prime mover, and sometime lover of Willie Stark in All the King’s Men, is a plucky little woman. So are Joanna Burden, the activist daughter of a transplanted Yankee in Light in August, and Scarlett O’Hara in...

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“The Most Natural Expressions of Locality”: Ellsworth Woodward and the Newcomb Pottery

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pp. 133-153

Perhaps no period in all the southern past witnessed more “redefinitions” than the half century following 1890. Industrial growth, national consolidation, global war, and modern assumptions—all prompted a profound reconsideration of the South...

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“Working Both Sides of the Fence”: African American Quartets Enter the Realm of Popular Culture

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pp. 154-171

Whether the urbanizing South will remain southern is a question that now occupies the minds of countless scholars and journalists. Clearly, we see a region in the process of redefining its own image and character as it is buffeted by the forces...

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“The Tools of the Master”: Southernists in Theoryland

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pp. 172-196

Afew years ago, an issue of the Yale Journal of Criticism featured an article whose title had a proclamatory tone. “The Inevitability of Theory in the South” bespoke at once the absence of theory, its desirability, and its irresistible advent. The argument...

Part Three: The Burdens and Blessings of Southern History

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On the Issue of Africanisms in American Culture

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pp. 199-220

On December 18, 1996, the Oakland (California) Unified School District’s Board of Education adopted a resolution declaring that its black students were bilingual, speaking both standard and black English. Ebonics, a term derived from...

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Re-creating a Public for the Plantation: Reconstruction Myths of the Biracial Southern “Family”

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pp. 221-253

In the decades following the Civil War, the United States was awash with the literature of reunion, as writers in both the North and the South sought an antidote to the wounds of national struggle in the myths of reconciliation. Most readers of the period...

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The South’s Midlife Crisis

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pp. 254-264

"Midlife crisis.” A cliché with its origins in Gail Sheehy’s outrageously successful book, Passages. Why bring up that piece of middle-brow pop psychology? What does that sort of bicoastal psychobabble have to do with the South, anyway? You might well ask...

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How Region Changed Its Meaning and Appalachia Changed Its Standing in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 265-287

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the word region meant an area, geographic or other, defined exclusively by its location. But terms as well as times were changing. The Oxford English Dictionary, long in process and finally published in 1910, noticed...

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The Burden of Southern Culture / Contributors

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pp. 288-302

The south carolina Legislature voted in May 2000 to remove the Confederate battle flag from its state capitol, an event of enormous symbolic significance in the redefinition of southern culture. The Confederate flag had once flown over several...


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pp. 303-317

E-ISBN-13: 9780807138687
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807138670

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Southern Literary Studies