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The South of the mind: American imaginings of White Southerness

Porch, rocking chairs, coffee cups
Virginia State Parks [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr
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How did conceptions of a tradition-bound, "timeless" South shape Americans' views of themselves and their society's political and cultural fragmentations, following the turbulent 1960s? In his book, The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southerness, 1960–1980 (2018, UGA Press), Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies and southern history in an effort to answer that question. 

Wide-ranging chapters detail the iconography of the white South during the civil rights movement; hippies' fascination with white southern life; the Masculine South of George Wallace, Walking Tall, and Deliverance; the differing southern rock stylings of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd; and the healing southerners of Jimmy Carter.

Zachary Lechner talks with Walter Edgar about how one cannot hope to understand recent U.S. history without exploring how people have conceived the South, as well as what those conceptualizations have omitted.

-(Originally broadcast 07/19/19) - 

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.