Ted Ownby with HURTIN' WORDS
When Tammy Wynette sang "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," she famously said she "spelled out the hurtin' words" to spare her child the pain of family breakup. In this innovative work, Ted Ownby considers how a wide range of writers, thinkers, activists, and others defined family problems in the twentieth-century American South. Ownby shows that it was common for both African Americans and whites to discuss family life in terms of crisis, but they reached very different conclusions about causes and solutions. In the civil rights period, many embraced an ideal of Christian brotherhood as a way of transcending divisions. Opponents of civil rights denounced "brotherhoodism" as a movement that undercut parental and religious authority. Others, especially in the African American community, rejected the idea of family crisis altogether, working to redefine family adaptability as a source of strength. Rather than attempting to define the experience of an archetypal "southern family," Ownby looks broadly at contexts such as political and religious debates about divorce and family values, southern rockmusic, autobiographies, and more to reveal how people in the South used the concept of the family as a proxy for imagining a better future or happier past.
Katie McKee with READING RECONSTRUCTION
Kathryn B. McKee's Reading Reconstruction situates Mississippi writer Katharine Sherwood Bonner McDowell (1849-1883) as an astute cultural observer throughout the 1870s and 1880s who portrayed the discord and uneasiness of the Reconstruction era in her fiction and nonfiction works. McKee reveals conflicts in Bonner's writing as her newfound feminism clashes with her resurgent racism, two forces widely prevalent and persistently oppositional throughout the late nineteenth century.
About the Author
Kathryn B. McKee, McMullan Associate Professor of Southern Studies and associate professor of English at the University of Mississippi, is the coeditor, with Deborah E. Barker, of American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary.
Jessica Wilkerson with TO LIVE HERE, YOU HAVE TO FIGHT
Launched in 1964, the War on Poverty quickly took aim at the coalfields of southern Appalachia. There, the federal government found unexpected allies among working-class white women devoted to a local tradition of citizen caregiving and seasoned by decades of activism and community service. Jessica Wilkerson tells their stories within the larger drama of efforts to enact change in the 1960s and 1970s. She shows white Appalachian women acting as leaders and soldiers in a grassroots war on poverty--shaping and sustaining programs, engaging in ideological debates, offering fresh visions of democratic participation, and facing personal political struggles. Their insistence that caregiving was valuable labor clashed with entrenched attitudes and rising criticisms of welfare. Their persistence, meanwhile, brought them into unlikely coalitions with black women, disabled miners, and others to fight for causes that ranged from poor people's rights to community health to unionization. Inspiring yet sobering, To Live Here, You Have to Fight reveals Appalachian women as the indomitable caregivers of a region--and overlooked actors in the movements that defined their time.
About the Author
Jessica Wilkerson is an assistant professor of history and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi.