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A kaleidoscopic new intellectual and cultural history of the South
Join the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Square Books as we celebrate friend and scholar Charles Reagan Wilson in conversation with Kathryn McKee for his new book The Southern Way of Life: Meanings of Culture and Civilization in the American South. The event will be Tuesday, January 17th at 5:30 pm at Off Square Books.
About the Book
How does one begin to understand the idea of a distinctive southern way of life—a concept as enduring as it is disputed? In this examination of the American South in national and global contexts, celebrated historian Charles Reagan Wilson assesses how diverse communities of southerners have sought to define the region's identity. Surveying three centuries of southern regional consciousness across many genres, disciplines, and cultural strains, Wilson considers and challenges prior presentations of the region, advancing a vision of southern culture that has always been plural, dynamic, and complicated by race and class.
Structured in three parts, The Southern Way of Life takes readers on a journey from the colonial era to the present, from when complex ideas of "southern civilization" rooted in slaveholding and agrarianism dominated to the twenty-first-century rise of a modern, multicultural "southern living." As Wilson shows, there is no singular or essential South but rather a rich tapestry woven with contestations, contingencies, and change.
About the Author
Charles Reagan Wilson is professor emeritus of History and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He was the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Chair of History and Professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, where he taught from 1981-2014. He worked extensively with graduate students and served as Director of the Southern Studies academic program from 1991 to 1998, and Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture from 1998-2007. Wilson received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso and earned his PhD in history from the University of Texas at Austin. He taught at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, the University of Texas at El Paso, and Texas Tech University before coming to Oxford. Wilson is the author of Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (1980), a study of the memory of the Confederacy in the post-Civil War South, Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis (1995), which studies popular religion as a part of the culture of the modern South, and Flashes of Southern Spirit: Meanings of the Spirit in the U. S. South (2011). He is also coeditor (with Bill Ferris) of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), which received the Dartmouth Prize from the American Library Association as best reference book of the year and is also general editor of the 24-volume New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (2006-2013). He is editor or coeditor of Religion and the American Civil War (1998), The New Regionalism (1996), and Religion in the South (1985).
An impressive and elucidating work of cultural history"—Publishers Weekly
Wilson 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, author of Calypso Magnolia: The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature