Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (review)

Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens, by Helen Taylor (Rutgers University Press, 2001).

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Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (review)

by Brian Ward
Southern Cultures, Vol. 8, No. 2: Summer 2002

Rutgers University Press, 2001.

In 1958 a newspaper survey of thirty British schoolchildren revealed that although only twelve of the fourteen-year-olds had heard of Dwight Eisenhower, seven of Nikita Khrushchev, and four of Jawaharlal Nehru, “everyone was on Christian name terms with a Mr. Presley.” Such findings would come as little surprise to Helen Taylor, whose perceptive and highly readable Circling Dixie explores the longstanding British infatuation with—and to a lesser extent influence on—southern culture. Indeed, Taylor is careful to note the quiet preoccupation with Elvis in Britain, where Elvis-themed shops (“Elvisly Yours . . . “) vie for attention with West End plays like Cooking with Elvis, while fan clubs continue to thrive and Elvis impersonators of every race (like Elvis Patel from Swansea) stalk the land.

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