Front Porch: Southern Lives

Jimm Carter at brother Billy's famous service station during a campaign stop in Plains, Georgia, courtesy of the Collections of the Library of Congress.

ACCESS PURCHASE
Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

Front Porch: Southern Lives

by Harry L. Watson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 16, No. 2: Southern Lives

"Stereotypes from Dixie crowd American fiction, film, music, and consciousness, and we all know people who seem to fit one of the molds."

If there are truly many Souths, there must be many kinds of southerners. To be various they must be individuals, but as recognizable southerners, they must also fit some generalizations. Stereotypes from Dixie crowd American fiction, film, music, and consciousness, and we all know people who seem to fit one of the molds: lady, gentleman, belle, frat boy, bigot, church lady, hell-raiser, bad man, maybe even Uncle Tom. The stereotypes all can echo a reality, yet the South is as famous for its eccentrics and individualists as for its off-the-shelf conformists. And beneath the surface of conventionality, even the most predictable exemplar of a stereotype will surprise you with variations and peculiarities. The endless interplay between culture and personality, the role and its player, always keeps us guessing, making all of us distinct individuals and also recognizable members of overlapping tribes: family, community, class, occupation, religion, region, nationality, and on and on.