An Episcopalian Imagination

Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 2001

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An Episcopalian Imagination

by Michael O'Brien
Southern Cultures, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2001

"It is the illusion of his style that Reed is a sort of good old boy, sitting on his porch, swigging his whiskey, going out the back to shoot hapless mammals."

I am commissioned here to discuss the influence of John Shelton Reed. But on whom? On historians of the American South, like myself? I am not sure John Reed has had any influence on historians, at least in the direct sense. Though his writing is suffused with a sense of history, there is remarkably little formal history in his work. Is it, instead, the case that his influence has lain in transmitting from his own discipline insights, theory, and technique, by which southern studies has been enriched? Has Reed brought us riches from the world of sociology, which have made us see things anew? Well, not really