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Front Porch: Fall 1995

by John Shelton Reed
Dixie, the song tells us, is the place where old times are not forgotten. Reminiscence about the past does seem to be a major preoccupation for many inhabitants of the southern cultural landscape. Stock car fans remember Bobby Allison, the UDC remembers the Lost Cause, black Texans remember Juneteenth, and we all have a holiday »

Memory and the South

by Edward L. Ayers
“Our sudden interest in memory has something to do with the democratization of history, with our interest in how literally everyone saw themselves.” I would like to admit right off the bat that I didn’t have a thing to do with organizing this extremely well-organized conference, though I did consult on the T-shirts and mugs. »

What Is Social Memory?

by Scot A. French
“Our stories should be testaments to the enduring significance of their stories, not monuments to our own changing perceptions of the past.” In planning our conference on social memory and southern history, one question arose again and again: What is social memory? Good question.

Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box

by Maurice M. Manring
Peering out from every supermarket’s shelves, between the Pop-Tarts and maple syrup, is a smiling riddle. Aunt Jemima brand pancake mix has been a part of American life for more than a century now, an overwhelmingly popular choice of consumers. The woman on the box has undergone numerous makeovers, but she remains the same in »

Reflections on the Death of Emmett Till

by Anne Sarah Rubin
“Emmett Till has no voice in all that has been written about him. But how have Americans—white and black, male and female, liberal and conservative—written about the case and the boy, and how have these impressions changed over time?” The undisputed facts of the case are simple and few: In August 1955 Mrs. Mamie Till »

“I Ventured to Say I Was a Virginian”: Vachel Lindsay and the South

by William R. Irwin
Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931), the American poet from Springfield, Illinois, who gave us “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,” “General William Booth Enters into Heaven,” and “The Congo,” has always been a difficult character to figure out. He first rose to prominence following the publication of “General William Booth Enters into Heaven” in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine »

The Sacrament of Remembrance: Southern Agrarian Poet Donald Davidson and His Past

by Paul V. Murphy
Donald Davidson, a southern poet and leader of the Southern Agrarians, a group of antimodernists who opposed industrial capitalism, conceived of social memory as a “folk-chain,” which binds a people together. The folk-chain transmits tradition, which, Davidson declared, tells southerners “who we are, where we are, where we belong, what we live by, what we »

To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature by Eric J. Sundquist (Review)

by Joel Williamson
Harvard University Press, 1993 In To Wake the Nations, Eric Sundquist argues persuasively that literary scholars have not yet fully appreciated the contribution of African American literature to American literary culture. He also makes the more fundamental argument that they have hardly begun to recognize the general impact of African American culture on mainstream American »

Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge by Charles B. Dew (review)

by Winthrop D. Jordan
W. W. Norton and Co., 1994 Having previously written a fine study of the Tredegar Iron Works, Charles Dew now takes up a topic that is both narrower and broader. Bond of Iron deals with a group of slaves and masters involved in a successful and long-term enterprise in the iron industry in the Shenandoah »

Kenneth and John B. Rayner and the Limits of Southern Dissent by Gregg Cantrell (Review)

by Paul D. Escott
University of Illinois Press, 1993 The content of this well-researched book is not exactly what many readers will expect. Kenneth Rayner, a prominent and well-connected North Carolina politician in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, fathered an illegitimate son by one of his slaves in 1850. That child, John B. Rayner, became prominent among »

The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 by Nina Silber (Review)

by James L. Peacock
University of North Carolina Press, 1993 “The South is feminine,” a northern Jungian psychologist remarked to me recently, endowing her statement with the authority of a discipline that defines archetypes. What Silber’s chronicle would inform her, and many of us, is that this sort of categorization is the product of decades of cultural construction fueled »

Erskine Caldwell: A Biography by Harvey L. Klevar (Review)

by Fred Hobson
University of Tennessee Press, 1993 Erskine Caldwell, long a subject ignored or nearly so by scholars of the first rank, is finally getting a measure of what he long said he didn’t care about anyway—literary respectability. Sylvia Cook, a fine student of the fiction of the southern white lower classes, produced Erskine Caldwell and the »

The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at the University of Alabama by E. Culpepper Clark (Review)

by Tinsley E. Yarbrough
Oxford University Press, 1992 In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1954-55 decisions striking down state-enforced segregation in the public schools, two young black women embarked upon a courageous mission to challenge racial barriers in Alabama, one of the most unreconstructed of southern states. In 1956 frantic University of Alabama officials found “moral” grounds for »

“You-all” Spoken Here

by John Shelton Reed
“In the South, both hearing you-all and saying it are pretty much unaffected by education and income, and both are almost as common among urban southerners as among rural ones.” “You-all” (or “y’all”) is probably the best-known southernism. Certainly it’s what Yankees invariably turn to when they want to imitate southern speech. And with good »

The Life of a Southerner (in Drawings): An Interview with Jesse Whitaker

by Gretchen Givens
At the age of 51, Jesse Whitaker began drawing pencil sketches of his memories of being a schoolboy in eastern North Carolina. The collection of his sketches that follows and his accompanying thoughts about the events taking place during that time are vehicles through which southerners can understand his life and his sense of place »
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