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The Front Porch Welcome to the first issue of Southern Cultures, a new quarterly of the American South. As always, the South attracts a considerable share of attention today, from defenders and detractors, reformers and traditionalists, historians, novelists, literary critics, social scientists, journalists, and politicians. As all these folks keep busy, each group telling about the South in its own way, too much of their conversation takes place in isolation, in narrow professional journals, in homogeneous knots of talkers, in separate cabins on a far-flung landscape, if you will, or in isolated corners of the big house. Up till now, there didn't seem to be many places to bring these folks together. There used to be a time when southern houses were known for their front porches: a place to cool off, to watch the world, to talk things over. The home and the road came together at the porch, and people who didn't meet anywhere else could meet there for conversation and business. Today, in a world of air conditioning and mass-market subdivisions, the front porch is not as prominent in southern life as it used to be. As editors, though, we hope this new journal can borrow some of its ambience and revive some of its purpose. Southern Cultures is, in effect, the front porch of our new Center for the Study of the American South. It's our face to the world and it's a place to mingle. We're especially proud that it is a joint construction project of the University of North Carolina and Duke University Press—you might say it's a renovation project rather than new construction, since it gives us a chance to revive a flagging conversation about southern matters that both Chapel Hill and Durham once were famous for. Some porches, of course, were built to overawe visitors, not to entertain them. (Later in this issue, Catherine Bishir tells us a lot about those.) And there were rules about who could and could not use the door. Our porch is not like that. On the contrary, we want this journal to bring talkers together who may have been talking too separately. We want it to appeal to thoughtful readers from outside the academy and to scholars who want to stretch beyond their 2 Southern Cultures own specialties. As our readers and writers, we want historians keen to learn about literature, literary critics ready for insights from anthropology, political types eager to get down with southern music, readers of all kinds inspired to think seriously—if not too solemnly—about high cultures, pop cultures, and folk cultures in the South. In 1935, W T. Couch put together an ambitious collection of essays called Culture in the South that challenged the nostalgic, monochrome southern portrait that the Nashville Agrarians had presented in I'll Take My Stand. "Life in the South," Couch wrote, "is not a simple affair. It is varied from class to class, and is further complicated by wide differences in political, economic, racial, educational , and religious faiths." We agree, and that's why we went one step further than Couch and gave our journal a plural title. To invert an observation by W. J. Cash, although it may be said that there is one South, there are also many Souths, and many cultural traditions among them. Beyond the widely recognized divisions of race, class, subregion, and gender, there are rifts between the campus and the community, among the various professional specialties, and among the many schools of political and moral thought. The factions are often in dispute with one another, and culture has been the theater of conflict as much as the occasion for sharing. We want Southern Cultures to reflect this diversity. Contributions to this introductory issue deal with literature, architecture, linguistics, and oral history. Our authors are black and white, male and female, native southerners and newcomers. But even as we embrace diversity, we also see a basis for a common conversation . There is one South spawned by its many cultures. Without forcing an unnatural consensus on anyone, we want this journal to reflect on what southern cultures share, as well as on...


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