American Studies 430  
The South 
11:00-12:25, T-Th
Spring, 2001
Roger Williams University
Michael R. H. Swanson
Office:  CAS 111
Hours: 9:00-10:00 M, T, Th, F
or by appointment
Phone:  401 254 3230
For Tuesday, April 24

    A. Work in Review

    I'd like to spend half the class (about) having you report informally about what you're doing project-wise, and how the work is going. I'll probably just do this by going around the room (which direction will be by flip of a coin or something) and asking you for word or two. Any of you who are working in teams may want to get together and appoint someone to speak for the rest of you. (When you do, identify the team members as part of your informal   report).


    Review, in The American South, a History,

         e sections on the Southern Literary Renaissance and Southern Regionalism pp. 626-633.

    Read, in Growing Up in the South

         Children of Strikers, by Fred Chappell pp. 66-69
         Fast Love, by Michael Malone pp. 79-89
         Ellen Gilchrist, The President of the Louisiana Live Oak Society pp. 130-145
Fred Chappell, click for a critical biography
Ellen Gilchrist.  Click for biographical information
Read, in Major Problems,

         Chapter 10, In Search of the Modern South
         1. John Crowe Ransom Takes a Stand for the Agrarian Way of Life (1930) pp. 288-291
         "Explaining the Southern Renaissance," by Richard H. King pp. 297-300

    If the South couldn't be what it had been, how could it be something, new, authentic, faithful to its heritage, and yet reconciled to national ideals? The essays and stories address this issue directly or indirectly.
Cleanth Brooks in "The Enduring Faith," published in Why the South Will Survive, writes that

    contrary to other Americans, the collective experience of Southerners includes decades of scarcity and poverty rather than of abundance; of guilt rather than innocence; of frustration and defeat rather than of unfailing victory and success. Such a regional experience has made Southerners skeptical with regard to the myths that undergird American nationalism. The Southerners' "historic" experience has given them a better grasp on reality, a heightened suspicion of all utopian schemes, and an antidote to moral complacency. (208) 

John Crowe Ransom, Poet and Critic.  Click for a biography and audio poetry reading
For Thursday, April 26

    Read: in Major Problems,

         Chapter 11, Turning points?
         All Documents pp. 317-331 The American South,

         Chapter 25, the section on the Depression through the section on Southern Agriculture pp.   639-654

The photo montage which has formed the background of the web pages for this course was created from one of the most remarkable collection of photographs I've seen.  The Unlikely source was the Department of Agriculture during the depression years of the 1930s.  Many of the United States' finest photographers worked at documenting the effects of the depression, not only on the South, but on all regions of the country.  Clicking on the images below will take you to the websites which contain some of these images.  Browse a while and let your senses respond to what you see.  Do this a couple of times for the greatest reward:  first, before you read today's assigned text, and then, again, afterwards.
Photographs by Dorothea Lange
Photographs of Walker Evans
Gordon Parks, Photographer.  "Washington, D.C. A machine shop worker who lives in the Southwest section."
Gordon Parks "Washington, D.C. Panhandler on 7th Street, N.W.."
Rare Color Photographs... browse by state.