Who Is a Southerner? It’s Your Turn to Tell Us (Letters to the Editor)

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Who Is a Southerner? It’s Your Turn to Tell Us (Letters to the Editor)

by Pauline M. Willis
Southern Cultures, Vol. 11, No. 3: Fall 2005

"'You seem to be saying that the Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazard types are the real southerners.'"

Much discussion and writing about the American South are explicitly or implicitly rooted in two broad, highly interdependent issues: southern distinctiveness and southern identity. In our Spring 2005 issue, we published two essays on these topics, “Southerners All?” (by Larry Griffin, Ranae Evenson, and Ashley Thompson) and “Playing Rebels” (by James Farmer). One of our readers, Mrs. Pauline Willis of Sulphur, Louisiana, wrote to take issue with some of the authors’ claims and to offer her understanding of these questions. We’re printing Mrs. Willis’s letter below both because she convincingly expresses the complexity of modern southern life and identity and because she starkly poses one of the most important cultural and moral questions southern studies must confront, namely, “Who is a southerner?”