Becoming Southern Writers: Essays in Honor of Charles Joyner

Becoming Southern Writers: Essays in Honor of Charles Joyner

Becoming Southern Writers: Essays in Honor of Charles Joyner

Becoming Southern Writers: Essays in Honor of Charles Joyner


Edited by southern historians Orville Vernon Burton and Eldred E. Prince, Jr., Becoming Southern Writers pays tribute to South Carolinian Charles Joyner's fifty year career as a southern historian, folklorist, and social activist. Exceptional writers of fact, fiction, and poetry, the contributors to the volume are among Joyner's many friends, admirers, and colleagues as well as those to whom Joyner has served as a mentor. The contributors describe how they came to write about the South and how they came to write about it in the way they do while reflecting on the humanistic tradition of scholarship as lived experience.
The contributors constitute a Who's Who of southern writers--from award-winning literary artists to historians. Freed from constraints of their disciplines by Joyner's example, they enthusiastically describe family reunions, involvement in the civil rights movement, research projects, and mentors. While not all contributors are native to the South or the United States and a few write about the South only occasionally, all the essayists root their work in southern history, and all have made distinguished contributions to southern writing. Diverse in theme and style, these writings represent each author's personal reflections on experiences living in and writing about the South while touching on topics that surfaced in Joyner's own works, such as race, family, culture, and place. Whether based on personal or historical events, each one speaks to Joyner's theme that "all history is local history, somewhere."


I suspect that most of us, at least by a certain age, feel an urge to rake the
leaves of our lives into a single pile.

Charles Joyner, “Comrades and Confederates:
Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese”

This volume of essays in honor of Charles Joyner, affectionately known by some of us as “Chaz,” gathers the work of scholars, novelists, and poets of the American South—only a few of his extensive network of colleagues across the academic spectrum on several continents. Most of the contributed essays to this volume relate their writers’ experiences of engaging the American South, whether exclusively or occasionally.

Joyner’s career is not easy to summarize because, to employ one of his own phrases, it “stubbornly resists synthesis.” Charles Joyner has lived in the South most of his life—writing, teaching, and lecturing on southern history from slavery and the Civil War to segregation and the civil rights movement, from politicians and generals to rebels and reporters; southern literature from William Faulkner to William Styron, Julia Peterkin to Natasha Trethewey; southern folk culture from tales and legends to music and material culture; and southern music from ballads to blues, spirituals to classical, country and bluegrass to rock and jazz. Much of his work has explored what he has described as “pursuing large questions in small places.” He has pursued some of the most important questions close to his home, such as the influence of

This volume is a result of a conference in honor of Charles Joyner, “Writing the South in
Fact, Fiction, and Poety,” hosted by Coastal Carolina University.

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