Enough About the Disappearing South: What About the Disappearing Southerner?

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Enough About the Disappearing South: What About the Disappearing Southerner?

by Ashley B. Thompson, Larry J.Griffin
Southern Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 3: Fall 2003

"Are southerners a dying breed?"

Profound transformations in the South since the 1960s have led many observers to sound the region’s death knell. Distinctive and exceptional no longer, they say, the region has been disappearing, vanishing, shrinking, and converging with mainstream America for decades, a victim of relentless incorporation into mass society. In a brief but stark Time magazine essay published in 1990, Hodding Carter III, a former Mississippi newspaper editor transplanted to Washington, D.C., went even further, voicing the judgment that the South was dead: “The South as South, a living, ever regenerating mythic land of distinctive personality, is no more. At most it is an artifact lovingly preserved in the museums of culture and the shops of tourist commerce precisely because it is so hard to find in the vital centers of the region’s daily life . . . the South is dead. . . . . What is lurching into existence in the South is purely and contemporaneously mainstream American, for better and for worse.”

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