An art historian and curator of American art at the New Orleans Museum, Pennington asks, ``What is so southern in paintings and photos of the South?'' His answer implies that it is a transplanted and gentrified British sensibility. Simultaneously, his essay does a near-total disservice to the art, beautifully reproduced in 94 excellent color plates. Five chapters contain unsophisticated semipolitical generalizations that read like soap opera. Thankfully, the plates each bear commentaries about artist and subject, taken from and properly ascribed to reputable authors. Pennington's final chapter, devoted largely to a discussion of Gone with the Wind , includes a full-color super-kitsch painting of a kneeling Elvis mesmerized by a tiny golden guitar emitting golden rays. Recommended only for the color plates, which are popularly unknown.--Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md.