Sunday, September 4, 2011

history = conversation about meaning & hope

"The important thing about history is not about commemoration or celebration, but public conversation about finding meaning in the past and hope for our future," said Tim Tyson, UNC-CH faculty member, author and historian.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sense of Place

Southerners developed an acute sense of place as a result of their dramatic and traumatic history and their rural isolation on the land for generations.


The first inhabitants of the region, Native Americans, saw the land of the Southeast as sacred ground, with all the happenings in their specific places related to the rest of the cosmos. Native Americans named prominent physical landmarks and plants and animals in their local areas; their place names survive as evocative descriptions of the landscape.


Folk artists draw from the long memory of people living in isolated rural areas for generations. They learn from older generations and convey the texture of life in a particular southern place through painting, carving, sewing, and other crafts.


(Sociologist) John Shelton Reed has concluded that "southerners seem more likely than other Americans to think of their region, their states, and their local communities possessively as theirs, and as distinct from and preferable to other regions, states, and localities."

from the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Charles Regan Wilson, general & volume editor (Vol #4, page 254)

Family Folklore

Southern families also pass on their memories of relatives and family events through foodways, which can range from favorite dishes, special recipes, and holiday foods and menus to events associated with preparing and consuming seasonal foods (including fish fries, barbecues, oyster roasts, and peanut and crawfish boils). Many families creat their own versions of favorite southern dishes, adapting recipes to accommodate family food preferences and religious, ethnic, and regional differences.

Stories, pastimes, expressions, keepsakes, and foodways are but a few examples of southern family folklore. There are many more. Naming traditions, rituals, songs, customs, gestures, pranks, and material culture offer equally rich avenues for families to express their sense of shared identity and history. The emphasis on leisure time, the strong continuity between generations in many families, the interest in family background and kinship, and a love of storytelling have collectively contributed to a rich body of folklore among southern families.

From the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Glenn Hinson and William Ferris volume editors (Vol #14, page 80)

Making An Atlantic World: Circles, Paths, and Stories from the Colonial South

Making An Atlantic World: Circles, Paths, and Stories from the Colonial South. James Taylor Carson. Univ of TN Press (Knoxville)

... in the landscapes and cosmologies of the colonial South, one small corner of the Atlantic world, we can find the South's autobiography and recognize its multiple authors, ... we can see that an ocean is not necessarily an ocean, the story of colonization does not have to be a story of conquest, and "white" men, "red" men, and "black" men can be brothers born of the same mother. The stories we tell, after all, make us who we are and the land what it is. (122)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


[Martin Luther] King would be the first to say that this struggle does not rely upon towering leaders and great speeches. Instead, he learned from the mothers and grandmothers of the South that the quilt of freedom is made of many patches and stitched by many hands, that the movement for which he spoke depended upon people working together in their own communities, turning to each other instead of on each other and taking power in their hands to build a world big enough for all the people, a world that is fearless and loving and true. - Timothy Tyson, Martin Luther King and the Southern Dream of Freedom

southern is stories

... southernness is a set of stories that southerners tell about themselves, making themselves up as they go along, always combining new materials and worn-out scraps. Pursuing this conversation is sometimes fun and sometimes grim, but always interesting. - Harry L. Watson & Larry J. Griffin, Front Porch, editors of Southern Cultures: The Fifteenth Anniversary Reader, 2008.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


"More than any other part of America, the South stands apart...Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it...but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have 'people' there, to feel it is your native ground. "Natives will tell you this. They are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Virginians, South Carolinians, Tennesseeans, Mississippians and Texans. But they are conscious of another loyalty too, one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long. If those memories could speak, they would tell stories of a region powerfully shaped by its history and determined to pass it on to future generations." – Tim Jacobson, Heritage of the South