• Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South

    Author(s):
    Pages: 336
    Illustrations: 33 illus.
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $99.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-3029-5
  • Paperback: $26.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-3040-0
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Index 311

    Acknowledgments ix

    Dixie Then and Now: An Introduction 1

    1. Romancing the South: A Tour of Lady’s Legacies, Academic and Otherwise 39

    2. “Both Kinds of Arms”: The Civil War in the Present 95

    3. Steel Magnolias, Fatal Flowers, and Designing Women: On the Limits of a Politics of Femininity in the Sun Belt South 149

    4. Feeling Southern: Home, Guilt, and the Transformation of White Identity 205

    Notes 257

    Bibliography 293
  • Winner, John B.Cawelti Prize, American Culture Association

  • “In insisting that any understanding of the South must address how the real—rather than nostalgically idealized—conditions of the antebellum South bear on the present-day South, McPherson insightfully shows that we cannot effect present-day racial and gender reconciliation without understanding, as William Faulkner notes, that ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’”

    “It is with a sense of windows opening wide that one turns to Tara McPherson’s Reconstructing Dixie: Race, a wonderful polemic against orthodox southern studies that refuse to incorporate cultural studies, debates about whiteness, and globalization.”

    "Reconstructing Dixie is an important, broad-ranging, and provocative book, and a fascinating pivoting of the narrative of the South."

    "Reconstructing Dixie is unique within Southern studies in its ability to move effortlessly between verbal and visual narratives and without exception to craft compelling arguments about both."

    "Reconstructing Dixie is an inspiring attempt toward a more inclusive and progressive 'southernness.'"

    "Reconstructing Dixie will be an important addition to academic discourse for furthering a line of inquiry into what it means to 'be southern' and how 'southernness' has been constructed in popular culture thus far."

    "[A] fascinating read. McPherson raises provocative questions and poses irresistible challenges. The book also provides a wealth of wonderful examples and anecdotes that would stimulate class discussion on the role of popular culture and the creation of historical memory."

    "[A] lively and thought-provoking investigation of the role of the South in the modern 'national imaginary.' . . . [E]ngaging. . . ."

    "[McPherson] has rigorously channeled [her] complex, messy, and sometimes ambivalent feelings [about the South] into a provocative work that challenges the reader to rethink the true meaning of many images of the South that dominate American culture. . . . [H]er book is worth reading by southerners and non-southerners alike."

    "[T]hought-provoking. . . .Re constructing Dixie is persuasively argued and should find an audience among historians of the South as well as historians of the modern United States."

    "[W]ide-ranging, original, incisive. . . . [T]here is humor, originality, and a genuinely profound understanding of the South both as fantasy and reality."

    "I found Tara McPherson's engaging discussion of Southern cultural critique quite discerning. . . . McPherson analyzes tour brochures, popular magazines, comic books, and advertisements-all with an eye for nuance and irony and sometimes with dazzling effect."

    "In the troubled water of American racial history, McPherson's book makes us wonder about relationships between narrative change and cultural change. Which comes first? What is the relationship between our stories and our lives? Do narratives have to picture change precisely to bring improvement? Does exposure to revised imagery create social movement? Is the literature that displays the apartheid quality of America obsolete and nostalgic, or still educational and accurate? Are we, as a culture, ready to imagine integration, even while so many of our public schools seem barely closer to integration in 2005 than in 1955? McPherson's book opens our way to provocative realizations and consequential questions."

    Awards

  • Winner, John B.Cawelti Prize, American Culture Association

  • Reviews

  • “In insisting that any understanding of the South must address how the real—rather than nostalgically idealized—conditions of the antebellum South bear on the present-day South, McPherson insightfully shows that we cannot effect present-day racial and gender reconciliation without understanding, as William Faulkner notes, that ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’”

    “It is with a sense of windows opening wide that one turns to Tara McPherson’s Reconstructing Dixie: Race, a wonderful polemic against orthodox southern studies that refuse to incorporate cultural studies, debates about whiteness, and globalization.”

    "Reconstructing Dixie is an important, broad-ranging, and provocative book, and a fascinating pivoting of the narrative of the South."

    "Reconstructing Dixie is unique within Southern studies in its ability to move effortlessly between verbal and visual narratives and without exception to craft compelling arguments about both."

    "Reconstructing Dixie is an inspiring attempt toward a more inclusive and progressive 'southernness.'"

    "Reconstructing Dixie will be an important addition to academic discourse for furthering a line of inquiry into what it means to 'be southern' and how 'southernness' has been constructed in popular culture thus far."

    "[A] fascinating read. McPherson raises provocative questions and poses irresistible challenges. The book also provides a wealth of wonderful examples and anecdotes that would stimulate class discussion on the role of popular culture and the creation of historical memory."

    "[A] lively and thought-provoking investigation of the role of the South in the modern 'national imaginary.' . . . [E]ngaging. . . ."

    "[McPherson] has rigorously channeled [her] complex, messy, and sometimes ambivalent feelings [about the South] into a provocative work that challenges the reader to rethink the true meaning of many images of the South that dominate American culture. . . . [H]er book is worth reading by southerners and non-southerners alike."

    "[T]hought-provoking. . . .Re constructing Dixie is persuasively argued and should find an audience among historians of the South as well as historians of the modern United States."

    "[W]ide-ranging, original, incisive. . . . [T]here is humor, originality, and a genuinely profound understanding of the South both as fantasy and reality."

    "I found Tara McPherson's engaging discussion of Southern cultural critique quite discerning. . . . McPherson analyzes tour brochures, popular magazines, comic books, and advertisements-all with an eye for nuance and irony and sometimes with dazzling effect."

    "In the troubled water of American racial history, McPherson's book makes us wonder about relationships between narrative change and cultural change. Which comes first? What is the relationship between our stories and our lives? Do narratives have to picture change precisely to bring improvement? Does exposure to revised imagery create social movement? Is the literature that displays the apartheid quality of America obsolete and nostalgic, or still educational and accurate? Are we, as a culture, ready to imagine integration, even while so many of our public schools seem barely closer to integration in 2005 than in 1955? McPherson's book opens our way to provocative realizations and consequential questions."

  • Reconstructing Dixie is a wonderful book—feisty, original, filled with insights into the circulation of the South in contemporary consumerist and feminist space. With real aplomb Tara McPherson leaps into the fracas surrounding globalization, the new geography, the racialization of ’whiteness,’ and the controversies about the uses of gender analysis. The result is a book that could release ‘southern' studies from its limited academic terrain.” — Patricia Yaeger, author of, Dirt and Desire: Reconstructing Southern Women's Writing

    Reconstructing Dixie is theoretically sophisticated in its view of southernness as a discursive construct and a cultural fantasy and in its analysis of the work regional nostalgia performs.” — Laura Kipnis, author of, Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America

    “I was absolutely blown away by this book. Tara McPherson's readings of individual texts, ranging from Gone With the Wind to the Captain Confederacy comicbook series and Octavia Butler’s Kindred, are original, precise, and utterly convincing. She pulls to the surface the radically different ways each work deals with the critical nexus of regional, racial, class, and gender identities.” — Henry Jenkins, director of Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    The South has long played a central role in America’s national imagination—the site of the trauma of slavery and of a vast nostalgia industry, alternatively the nation’s moral other and its moral center. Reconstructing Dixie explores how ideas about the South function within American culture. Narratives of the region often cohere around such tropes as southern hospitality and the southern (white) lady. Tara McPherson argues that these discursive constructions tend to conceal and disavow hard historical truths, particularly regarding race relations and the ways racial inequities underwrite southern femininity. Advocating conceptions of the South less mythologized and more tethered to complex realities, McPherson seeks to bring into view that which is repeatedly obscured—the South’s history of both racial injustice and cross-racial alliance.

    Illuminating crucial connections between understandings of race, gender, and place on the one hand and narrative and images on the other, McPherson reads a number of representations of the South produced from the 1930s to the present. These are drawn from fiction, film, television, southern studies scholarship, popular journalism, music, tourist sites, the internet, and autobiography. She examines modes of affect or ways of "feeling southern" to reveal how these feelings, along with the narratives and images she discusses, sanction particular racial logics. A wide-ranging cultural studies critique, Reconstructing Dixie calls for vibrant new ways of thinking about the South and for a revamped and reinvigorated southern studies.

    Reconstructing Dixie will appeal to scholars in American, southern, and cultural studies, and to those in African American, media, and women’s studies.

    About The Author(s)

    Tara McPherson is Associate Professor in the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California. She is a coeditor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, published by Duke University Press.

Explore More

Sign up for Subject Matters email updates to receive discounts, new book announcements, and more.

Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu