Manifesto: Center for the Study of Southern Culture
The Univerrsity of Mississippi

WHAT DOES THE NEW SOUTHERN STUDIES DO?

challenge received history and conventional definitions of Southernness and Southern literature

blur borders, boundaries, maps

complicate familiar stories by exploring their layers and trying to tell the not-told

identify and explore the presence in the U.S. South of various cultures and ethnicities over time and in the present

understand the U.S. South as located squarely within global crosscurrents, now and over time

focus on movement and the encounters that result from mobility

recognize the richness of the intersection, the overlap, the fortuitous simultaneity.

WHAT DOES THE NEW SOUTHERN STUDIES NOT DO?

argue for the South's exclusivity and distinctiveness

focus exclusively on the North/South axis that has historically oriented discussions of Southern identity

focus exclusively on the traditional landmarks of white Southern identity: the Civil War, Reconstruction

accept the white Southern perspective as dominant

study a handful of 19th-century texts, move quickly forward to the Agrarians, and then proceed to evaluate books and moments by how "Faulknerian" or "Non-Faulknerian" they are

worry about deciding exactly which states count as Southern

keep talking about "the South" and figure people know what you mean.

See also
Southern Cultures, UNC Chapel Hill
Southern Spaces, Emory University

2/18/2011