The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 1

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 1

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 1

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Evangelical Protestant groups have dominated religious life in the South since the early nineteenth century. Even as the conservative Protestantism typically associated with the South has risen in social and political prominence throughout the United States in recent decades, however, religious culture in the South itself has grown increasingly diverse. The region has seen a surge of immigration from other parts of the United States as well as from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, bringing increased visibility to Catholicism, Islam, and Asian religions in the once solidly Protestant Christian South.

In this volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, contributors have revised entries from the original Encyclopedia on topics ranging from religious broadcasting to snake handling and added new entries on such topics as Asian religions, Latino religion, New Age religion, Islam, Native American religion, and social activism. With the contributions of more than 60 authorities in the field--including Paul Harvey, Loyal Jones, Wayne Flynt, and Samuel F. Weber--this volume is an accessibly written, up-to-date reference to religious culture in the American South.

Excerpt

In 1989, years of planning and hard work came to fruition when the University of North Carolina Press joined the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi to publish the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. While all those involved in writing, reviewing, editing, and producing the volume believed it would be received as a vital contribution to our understanding of the American South, no one could have anticipated fully the widespread acclaim it would receive from reviewers and other commentators. But the Encyclopedia was indeed celebrated, not only by scholars but also by popular audiences with a deep, abiding interest in the region. At a time when some people talked of the “vanishing South,” the book helped remind a national audience that the region was alive and well, and it has continued to shape national perceptions of the South through the work of its many users—journalists, scholars, teachers, students, and general readers.

As the introduction to the Encyclopedia noted, its conceptualization and organization reflected a cultural approach to the South. It highlighted such issues as the core zones and margins of southern culture, the boundaries where “the South” overlapped with other cultures, the role of history in contemporary culture, and the centrality of regional consciousness, symbolism, and mythology. By 1989 scholars had moved beyond the idea of cultures as real, tangible entities, viewing them instead as abstractions. The Encyclopedia’s editors and contributors thus included a full range of social indicators, trait groupings, literary concepts, and historical evidence typically used in regional studies, carefully working to address the distinctive and characteristic traits that made the American South a particular place. The introduction to the Encyclopedia concluded that the fundamental uniqueness of southern culture was reflected in the volume’s composite portrait of the South. We asked contributors to consider aspects that were unique to the region but also those that suggested its internal diversity. The volume was not a reference book of southern history, which explained something of the design of entries. There were fewer essays on colonial and antebellum history than on the postbellum and modern periods, befitting our conception of the volume as one trying not only to chart the cultural landscape of the South but also to illuminate the contemporary era.

When C. Vann Woodward reviewed the Encyclopedia in the New York Review of Books, he concluded his review by noting “the continued liveliness of inter-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.