Cultural Conservatism and the South, 1920-1990
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Missouri Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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The most impressive feature about the present moment in American intellectual history is the relative paucity of traditionalist conservative men of letters. Though the American right, since the Second World War, appears to have been ascendant in politics and intellect, its supposed triumph has, in large measure, come at the expense of traditionalist conservatives who, for much of ...
Chapter 1. Superfluous Southerners and Gnostic Northerners: Southern Cultural Conservatism, Northern Pragmatism, and American Intellectual History
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In 1927, Julien Benda published an indictment of the intellectual corruption of the age titled Le Trahison des Clercs or The Treason of the Intellectuals. Taken literally, Benda’s title appealed to an archaic meaning of clerc, which pertained to the medieval scribes who provided a distinction between the sphere of letters and those of church and state that had been previously unknown.1 The “treason” in question was the subsequent gradual betrayal by the clerks of their
Chapter 2. Conservatism in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century America: From Sectionalism to the New Humanism
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As much as pragmatists like Oliver Wendell Holmes sought to forestall certitude and discord in the aftermath of the Civil War, southern intellectuals spoke unabashedly of intellectual conflict. In his influential history of the Confederacy, Edward Pollard, editor of the Richmond Examiner, cautioned the South against concentrating on the recovery of “mere material prosper-...
Chapter 3. From the New Humanism to Agrarianism
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During the fall of 1928, author and native Kentuckian Allen Tate set sail for Europe under the auspices of a Guggenheim fellowship. For Tate and other aspiring artists, the twenties had been an era filled with possibilities and uncertainties. Emerging from the terrors of the Great War, the decade ushered in revolutions in finance, transportation, and communication that drastically...
Chapter 4. The Divided Minds of Agrarianism
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Though much has been said about the making and meaning of I’ll Take My Stand, there has been comparatively little written regarding its turbulent after-math. Though a few scholars have begun to examine this period, the fragmentation of Agrarianism during the thirties remains something of an enigma and has been largely relegated to footnotes and postscripts. To an overwhelming ...
Chapter 5. The Conservative Legacy of Agrarianism: Cleanth Brooks and Richard Weaver
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Despite the efforts of the New Humanists, the Nashville Agrarians, and a handful of like-minded intellectuals, there remained, historian George Nash observes, “no articulate, coordinated, self-consciously conservative intellectual force” in the United States in 1945. Rather, he remarked, there were merely “scattered voices of protest” that were “profoundly pessimistic about ...
Chapter 6. Southern Conservatism and Its Discontents: M. E. Bradford and the Modern American Right
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During the winter of 1966, erstwhile Agrarian Donald Davidson wrote admiringly to a former pupil concerning his recent scholarship on American culture. With excitement, Davidson noted that the young scholar was “picking up where Richard Weaver left off when heart failure took him away” three years ago. Prior to his untimely death at age fifty-three, Weaver, a tireless defender of ...
Conclusion. The Southern Man of Letters in the Postmodern World
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...“The man of letters,” the nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire declared, is first and foremost the “world’s enemy.” Of course, the immediate question, in view of the story of the Agrarians and their intellectual descendants, remains to what degree this adversarial disposition remains relevant within the confines of a perpetually globalizing postmodern world? Though ...
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Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2012