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Interest in American regions has undergone a revival since the 1970s. This book presents views of key interpreters of the South, the West, New England, and the Midwest. Although they choose differing approaches and methodologies, they collectively explore the landscapes and peoples of regional cultures that long have been a significant factor in understanding American culture.
The dynamic subject of regionalism fostered a popular and intellectual movement in the period between the world wars. Such notable figures as the sociologist Howard Odum, the historian Walter Prescott Webb, and the urban planner Lewis Mumford proposed theoretical bases for regional study and aspired to shape public policy in the New Deal era. These modernists were aware of the cultural crisis that shook western civilization after World War I. They saw regional cultures as models of the well-integrated communities that might offer hope to their disenchanted contemporaries. However, interest in regionalism declined in the 1950s, as the decade concerned itself with the view that consensus and homogenization would destroy regional identity.
Through films, television, and novels set in different regions, American popular culture kept regional cultures in the national spotlight. By the 1970s, it was clear that regions not only had survived but also continued to play a prominent role in the shaping of cultural attitudes and political thought and behavior.
The essays in this volume, papers presented at the Porter L. Fortune History Symposium at the University of Mississippi in 1993, are products of this new wave of scholarship. The New Regionalism the scholars discuss here focuses on the geography of place, the local context of differing physical environments, and the centrality of social relations that includes attention to the key concerns of race, class, and gender.
Charles Reagan Wilson, a professor of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi, is the author of Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis and Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause.
|Revolt of the Provinces; The Regionalist Movement in America, 1920-1945||1|
|Bioregionlism: Landscape and Culture in the South Atlantic||19|
|The Persistence of Regional Labels in the United States: Reflections from a Midwestern Perspective||45|
|The Realization of the American West||71|
|Inventing New England||105|
|Geography and Justice in the Black Belt: Regionalism Comes with the Territory||135|