Skip to content

Subjects: Popular Culture



by Skylar Gudasz

“In the business of surviving, it is easy to forget that almost half of our lives is spent dreaming.” The pandemic came to stay for awhile and settled us down, grounded like teenagers in some enduring season beyond the usual markers of weather and time. Southern Cultures, at the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, invited some »


Book Tour: The Prettiest Star

by Carter Sickels, Wiley Cash

Welcome to our virtual book tour. Since so many literary events have been canceled or postponed during the pandemic, we’re bringing authors with new books directly to you. We hope you’ll get to know an author or book to add to your reading list. We also encourage you to support your local bookshop. Set in »


What Home Means

A coloring book

by Southern Cutures

In a moment when we’re encouraged to stay home and shelter-in-place, we’ve asked many of our illustrator friends to document what home now means to them. Print them out, color them in, and create your own to share with us online using the hashtag #SCatHome. You can also download a full printable PDF at the »


Wild Heirloom

A meditation through time

by Skylar Gudasz

1. When I was five and my brother Jason was three, we lived in an old white farmhouse near the James River in Varina, Virginia. I was too young to believe in the idea of ghosts; otherwise, I’m sure I would have been convinced I was seeing them in every dusk-dim corner of the property—by »


Jazz and the Magic City

An Alabama Diaspora

by Burgin Mathews

“From the heyday of swing through the dawn of bop, wherever there was jazz, there was some piece of Birmingham.” This is the story of jazz in Birmingham, and of Birmingham in jazz—of how Alabama’s “Magic City” helped create some of the nation’s most swinging and celestial sounds, and of how that city, in the »


Curers, Charms, and Curses / Meddygon, Swynion, a Melltithion

Celebrating the Shared Folk Cultures of Appalachia and Wales

by Peter Stevenson

“Appalachia and Wales share many folk tales and traditions, such as those of the granny women. These sisters made tinctures and potions and had remedies for every kind of ailment, though not of the hubble-bubble kind.” In May 2019, a group of illustrators, filmmakers, photographers, book artists, and folk artists from West Wales exhibited their »


Strange Fruit and Patriotic Flowers

E. McKnight Kauffer's Illustrated South

by Mary A. Knighton

In January 1941, literati tastemaker Carl van Vechten wrote in mock reproach to Gertrude Stein in Paris—whom he addressed as “Baby Woojums”—chastising her and her partner Alice B. Toklas for their absence when simply everyone else who mattered was there in Manhattan. To further pique the envy of author and art aficionado Stein, he noted »


Down in the Hole

Outlaw Country and Outlaw Culture

by Max Fraser

The earliest documented exploration of a deep cave in eastern North America occurred roughly five thousand years ago, in the limestone-rich hills of the Upper Cumberland Plateau along what is now the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. Carrying torches lit with charcoal made from river cane, one or two small groups of hunter-gatherers entered a »


Soliloquy of Chaos

Ornette Coleman in Copenhagen, 1965

by William Pym

As a teenager in 1940s Fort Worth, Ornette Coleman supported his family playing tenor saxophone on the radio and in regional clubs, honing woozy gutbucket rhythm and blues suitable for partying and abandon. “I was in the South when minorities were oppressed, and I identified with them through music,” Coleman told the philosopher Jacques Derrida »


Jackie Shane

It’s Just, “Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am”

by Douglas Mcgowan

Jackie Shane is not an easy person to interview. She was one of the greatest soul artists of the 1960s. (“The greatest singer who ever lived,” says Skippy White, dean of the Boston soul scene over the last half century or so.) Designated male at birth in Nashville in 1940, she openly began to identify »


They’ll Never Keep Us Down

Songs of Protest, 1913–2018

by Aaron Smithers

Hazel Dickens wrote “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” in 1976 for the soundtrack to Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning documentary Harlan County, USA. In Dickens’s lyrics, “they” are the rich men who prioritize profits over people, who “rob, steal, and kill” to maintain their power. Songs of protest have been around as long as humans have made »