WGS 345 • Southern Cultures-W
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
Is there such a thing as southern culture? Should we more appropriately speak of southern cultures? Can we speak in one breath of Appalachia, Delta, Tidewater, Cotton Belt, Sunshine Belt, Gulf Shores, Ozarks, Piedmont? This course will explore not a single, solid south (though we will investigate how that concept has been deployed over time and for specific political purposes), but rather multiple, fluid, and diverse southern cultures. We will explore borders and boundary making from not only geographical and political, but also cultural perspectives. Fair game for our study, then are NASCAR, mega-churches, beauty pageants, birthplace of jazz, country music, the Dirty South, Black Mountain College, Little Havana, migrant farm culture, matzo ball soup with collards, Trail of Tears, Gullah, Sweet Auburn, Tara, Graceland, and Disneyworld. We will begin with the states themselves: Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas. But we will also consider who and what else fits or does not fit: East Texas? Maryland? Cuba? West Virginia? Oklahoma? What are the stakes involved in defining "The South"? What are the stereotypes and what are the individual truths about: women, men, and southern in this context? We will look at the multiple experiences of diverse Americans living in the southern United States: black, white, Native American, Hispanic, Asian, working class, middle class, upper class, etc. We will study how ideas about "The South" have changed over time and across the country. We will use fiction, film, popular culture, letters, diaries, and a grounding in scholarship for this interdisciplinary exploration.
This course will combine the writing of essays, research presentation, and exam.
(tentative) Mark Howell, From Moonshine to Madison Avenue: A Cultural History of NASCAR Gary Pomerantz, Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn Jeff Biggers, The United States of Appalachia Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady Jones, Gray, and Monteith, eds. South to a New Place Films, articles, and novels to be announced.