Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920

Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920

Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920

Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920

Synopsis

In Subduing Satan, Ted Ownby contends that the everyday cultural lives of rural white Southerners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries revolved around these two opposing complexes of attitudes.

Excerpt

Sometimes the stronger man on the end of the lifting stick could pull the one down who was on the other end. To be pulled down in such a fashion was an embarrassment, and considered as a reflection on a man's muscle power. -- J. Harold Stephens

Historians of American popular culture have shown little interest in harvest celebrations. the elaborate, animated ceremonies that reveal so much about the culture of premodern peoples seem on the surface to have had few counterparts among Americans. Were Americans not rational and scientific in their view of nature? Protestant and hence unceremonial in their recreations? Capitalistic and unsentimental in their treatment of the land? However, Americans have long taken a special pleasure in the harvest, and the different forms of Southerners' celebrations reveal important changes in the nature of rural life.

Spokesmen for Southern white farmers in the postbellum period routinely paid tribute to the harvest. in October 1901 the editor of the Southern Cultivator wrote, "We have toiled through the sweat and the dust of the long summer days, now we are cheered by the rewards of our toil. We rejoice once again to see fulfilled the blessed promise -- That while the world remaineth, seed time and harvest shall remain." Another editor agreed that the harvest held special pleasures for Southern farmers. "We have always liked the fall work on the farm. Planting cotton or hoeing it never suited us half so well as drawing the fleecy locks from the open bolls. Hoeing corn or plowing it was never so . . .

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