A Literate South: Reading before Emancipation

A Literate South: Reading before Emancipation

by Beth Barton Schweiger


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


A provocative examination of literacy in the American South before emancipation, countering the long-standing stereotype of the South’s oral tradition

Schweiger complicates our understanding of literacy in the American South in the decades just prior to the Civil War by showing that rural people had access to a remarkable variety of things to read. Drawing on the writings of four young women who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Schweiger shows how free and enslaved people learned to read, and that they wrote and spoke poems, songs, stories, and religious doctrines that were circulated by speech and in print. The assumption that slavery and reading are incompatible—which has its origins in the eighteenth century—has obscured the rich literate tradition at the heart of Southern and American culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300112535
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,076,262
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Beth Barton Schweiger taught for fifteen years at the University of Arkansas. She is the author of The Gospel Working Up and editor of Religion in the American South.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction: The Presence of Print 1

Part I A Good English Education 39

Chapter 1 Spellers 41

Chapter 2 Grammars 68

Chapter 3 Rhetorics 95

Part II A Musical, Literary, and Christian Miscellany 123

Chapter 4 Songs 125

Chapter 5 Stories 150

Chapter 6 Doctrines 177

Epilogue: A Literate South 199

List of Abbreviations 203

Notes 205

Index 245

Customer Reviews