The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 4

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 4

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 4

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 4

Synopsis

This volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture addresses the cultural, social, and intellectual terrain of myth, manners, and historical memory in the American South. Evaluating how a distinct southern identity has been created, recreated, and performed through memories that blur the line between fact and fiction, this volume paints a broad, multihued picture of the region seen through the lenses of belief and cultural practice.

The 95 entries here represent a substantial revision and expansion of the material on historical memory and manners in the original edition. They address such matters as myths and memories surrounding the Old South and the Civil War; stereotypes and traditions related to the body, sexuality, gender, and family (such as debutante balls and beauty pageants); institutions and places associated with historical memory (such as cemeteries, monuments, and museums); and specific subjects and objects of myths, including the Confederate flag and Graceland. Together, they offer a compelling portrait of the "southern way of life" as it has been imagined, lived, and contested.

Excerpt

The South occupies a central place in the American imagination. the Myth, Manners, and Memory volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture examines how representations of the region and its people, their patterns of etiquette and social interaction, and their remembrance of the past have helped make it a region that resonates with people who see its many creative expressions. Historians have been studying the mythic South for decades, and the section on that topic in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture helped focus attention on its breadth and depth as a topic for study. More recently, literary critics and cultural studies scholars have examined representations of the region, with several drawing on theoretical formulations and calling for recognition of overlooked typologies from southern history. Meanwhile, the term “myth” continues to be used by scholars who recognize the role that “the mind of the South” has long played in making the South a distinctive region.

The editors have added entries that reflect new scholarship, such as work on the body, clocks and time, and the myth of black Confederates. the family has become such a key topic in southern cultural studies that we commissioned a new article on that topic. We have added articles on memory and on Civil War reenactments to show how the South continues to construct historical memory as a part of its ongoing cultural identity. We have strengthened the discussion of manners through articles on ladies and gentlemen and on visiting, a once-crucial social practice in the South. Theoretical perspectives are everywhere included, but a new entry on postmodernism is especially important in indicating new directions in the study of southern culture. Many entries have been expanded because of the impact of theoretical and methodological developments. the author of the cult of beauty entry has reworked it to emphasize viewpoints from feminist scholars and from religious studies. the community article reflects an increased awareness of the diversity of southern society and ways that a concern for community can, and cannot, foster unity. Few topics have changed as dramatically in the last decade as that of sexuality, and a revised entry reflects new insights from the work of historians, literary critics, and sociologists. That entry ends with a brief discussion of the contemporary South, where the growing public role of gays and the rise of the conservative Religious Right have made sexuality a focal point for public policy discussions. the sexuality entry is a good indicator of how much culture has changed in the . . .

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