The Southern Way of Life: Meanings of Culture and Civilization in the American South

The Southern Way of Life: Meanings of Culture and Civilization in the American South

by Charles Reagan Wilson


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Since the eighteenth century, a vast range of thinkers, artists, writers, and critics have wrestled with the notion that something distinct characterizes life in the American South. But in this sweeping new intellectual and cultural history, Charles Reagan Wilson reveals that there has never been a singular understanding of this "southern way of life." Considering nearly three centuries of regional expression in history, literature, music, recreation, religion, and more, produced by those inside and outside the region, Wilson argues that the consciousness associated with the American South is best understood by examining three related yet discrete ideas that have evolved over time: southern civilization, the southern way of life, and southern living. The story he tells is not of an essential South but of one marked by contestations, contingencies, and change.

Wilson draws on multiple histories, disciplines, geographies, and cultural strains to show how ideas of southern culture have been plural and dynamic, complicated always by race and class. This monumental study promises to shape and invigorate writing about southern culture for years to come.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469664989
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 07/05/2022
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Charles Reagan Wilson is professor emeritus of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

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From the Publisher

Charles Reagan Wilson, the dean of southern studies, has given us a monumental interdisciplinary and multicultural reassessment of a fabled and oft-troubled region; this study will force a recalibration of old pieties while charting a path toward new forms of social and cultural critique." —John Wharton Lowe, University of Georgia

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