Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
ams masthead
Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Summer 2006

AMS f310 • Introduction to American Studies: Southern Strategy-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
82458 MTWThF
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
gea 114

Course Description

The political transformation of the South in the years since Reconstruction to the present offers one of the greatest historical narratives for understanding issues of race, gender, religion, and regionalism in American life. And it is in the cycles of Southern politics, the ebb and flow of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement, that we clearly see the momentum of major social movements. The political pendulum swings widely in the South and with great violence.

The Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, as they were called, that dominated the political landscape of the Reconstructed South seemed to vanish almost as quickly as it had appeared. What can only be called a series of racially motivated coup d'etats re-established solid control of the Democratic Party, the party of white supremacy, by the turn of the century. White primaries, poll taxes, and legalized voter disenfranchisement seemed to ensure a solid South for the Democratic Party for the first half of the twentieth-century. Populism, or the Peoples Party, attempted to unite whites and blacks on class issues, but such an alliance assured defeat by the majority party. Eventually, African-American resistance, as well as womens suffrage, began to chip away at white male political dominance in the South. Such resistance, however, was met with equal force, and by 1948 the Southern Democratic Party, the Dixiecrats, had broken from the national party on issues such as the integration of schools and public spaces. However, it would be a southern president that would finally push through Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s. Lyndon Johnsons staff claimed that the President knew that signing such bills as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 would cripple, if not destroy, the Democratic Party, particularly in the South. The most recent political transformation of the South, however, did not happen overnight. During Nixons 1968 campaign the Republican Party implemented the very successful "Southern Strategy," also called positive polarization, which used wedge issues such as affirmative action initiatives and bussing laws to drive white Southerners to the Party of Lincoln. After 30 years it appears that as of the 2004 election, the South seems to be solidly red at the national level, state and local levels. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this class will investigate the cultural causes of and responses to these transformations in southern politics. Why did Reconstruction governments fail? What was is the national response? Why was the Populist Party so attractive in the South? And why did it fade so quickly from the national scene? How does the current Southern Strategy use racial, gendered, and religious rhetoric to accomplish its goals? Finally, this class will try to determine the significance of the southern region within the national political scene.


Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights edited by Jane Dailey, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Bryant Simon Dixie Rising: How the South is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture by Peter Applebome The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South: 1932-1968 by Kari Frederickson Additional Articles on Electronic Reserves


bottom border