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

    Pages: 336
    Illustrations: 33 illus.
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • 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


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

  • 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 — N/A

    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 — N/A

    “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 — N/A

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  • 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.

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