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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2009

AMS 370 • Southern Cultures-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29370 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
bur 228

Course Description

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 Statesblack, 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.

Grading Policy

This course will combine the writing of essays, research presentation, and exam. By successfully completing the course, students will be able to: discuss historical and contemporary connections between ideas of region, culture, and diverse people; analyze how racial, class, gender, and ethnic differences affect experiences of place in this context; research in depth individual, societal, and material details; and develop creative and academically rigorous methods to analyze representations of southern cultures in multiple media sources.


Possible Texts 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.


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