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One Homogeneous People

Narratives of White Southern Identity, 1890–1920

Trent A. Watts

Publication Year: 2010

Southerners have a reputation as storytellers, as a people fond of telling about family, community, and the southern way of life. A compelling book about some of those stories and their consequences, One Homogeneous People examines the forging and the embracing of southern “pan-whiteness” as an ideal during the volatile years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.

Trent Watts argues that despite real and signi?cant divisions within the South along lines of religion, class, and ethnicity, white southerners—especially in moments of perceived danger—asserted that they were one people bound by a shared history, a love of family, home, and community, and an uncompromising belief in white supremacy. Watts explores how these southerners explained their region and its people to themselves and other Americans through narratives found in a variety of forms and contexts: political oratory, fiction, historiography, journalism, correspondence, literary criticism, and the built environment.

Watts examines the assertions of an ordered, homogeneous white South (and the threats to it) in the unsettling years following the end of Reconstruction through the early 1900s. In three extended essays on related themes of race and power, the book demonstrates the remarkable similarity of discourses of pan-whiteness across formal and generic lines. In an insightful concluding essay that focuses on an important but largely unexamined institution, Mississippi’s Neshoba County Fair, Watts shows how narratives of pan-white identity initiated in the late nineteenth century have persisted to the present day.

Written in a lively style, <i>One Homogeneous People</i> is a valuable addition to the scholarship on southern culture and post-Reconstruction southern history.
Trent Watts is the editor of White Masculinity in the Recent South. His work has appeared in <i>Southern Cultures</i> and T<i>he New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture</i>. He is assistant professor of American studies at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. xi-xiv

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance that I received in writing the dissertation on which this book is based and in revising that dissertation for publication. What follows in these pages is a story of narratives and their consequences. But at the same time...

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pp. xv-xxxii

Southerners have a reputation as storytellers, as a people fond of telling about family, community, and the southern way of life. This is a book about some of those stories and their consequences...

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Chapter 1. The Road to a Closed Society: Mississippi Politics and the Language of White Southern Identity

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pp. 1-40

On the evening of Saturday, September 29, 1962, as the crisis over James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi came to a head, Governor Ross Barnett sat in Jackson, watching the Ole Miss Rebels play the Kentucky Wildcats...

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Chapter 2. Manhood, Family, and White Identity in Thomas Nelson Page’s “Marse Chan” and Thomas W. Dixon’s The Leopard’s Spots

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pp. 41-86

At the turn of the twentieth century, southern writers such as Thomas Dixon and Thomas Nelson Page crafted highly influential representations of the South that helped to establish the broad category of white identity in the post– Civil War South....

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Chapter 3. “The South Is a Single, Homogeneous People”: Canonizing Southern History and Literature

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pp. 87-138

“Much of what Dr. Page has said is correct,” wrote Julian A. C. Chandler in his introduction to the twelve-volume history, The South in the Building of the Nation (1909). “No true history of the South has been written...

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Conclusion: “Mississippi’s Giant House Party”: Whiteness and Community at the Neshoba County Fair

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pp. 139-160

For more than one hundred years, Mississippians have braved their long hot summer to head to the eastern part of the state for the Neshoba County Fair. For one week in late July, thousands of men and women from Philadelphia...


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pp. 161-198


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pp. 199-220


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pp. 221-231

E-ISBN-13: 9781572337435
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572335035

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2010