Summary: A multifaceted look at a region defined by continuity and change.
In the South today, the sight of a Latina in a NASCAR T-shirt behind the register at an Asian grocery would hardly draw a second glance. That scenario, and our likely reaction to it, surely signals something important--but what? Here some of the region's most respected and readable observers look across the past century to help us take stock of where the South is now and where it may be headed.< ...show moreBR>
Reflecting the writers' deep interests in southern history, politics, literature, religion, and other matters, the essays engage in new ways some timeless concerns about the region: How has the South changed--or not changed? Has the South as a distinct region disappeared, or has it absorbed the many forces of change and still retained its cultural and social distinctiveness?
Although the essays touch on an engaging diversity of topics including the USDA's crop spraying policies, Tom Wolfe's novel A Man in Full, and collegiate women's soccer, they ultimately cluster around a common set of themes. These include race, segregation and the fall of Jim Crow, gender, cultural distinctiveness and identity, modernization, education, and urbanization. Mindful of the South's reputation for insularity, the essays also gauge the impact of federal assistance, relocated industries, immigration, and other outside influences.
As one contributor writes, and as all would acknowledge, those who undertake a project like this ''should bear in mind that they are tracking a target moving constantly but often erratically.'' The rewards of pondering a place as elusive, complex, and contradictory as the American South are on full display here. ...show less