The Countercultural South

The Countercultural South

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At once upholding and refuting the South's conservative image, The Countercultural South explores the politically divergent cultures of resistance created by poor white and working-class black southern men. With humor and insight, Jack Temple Kirby traces these racially and politically opposed cultures back to the antebellum encounter between the anti-capitalistic South and the capitalist individualism identified with the North.

In a wide-ranging discussion encompassing the blues, sharecropping, and contemporary black intellectuals, Kirby shows how the needful practice of black labor bargaining in the South resulted in a progressive black tradition of verbal negotiation. The conservative separatism and retro-resistance of rural whites, Kirby argues, is embedded in an inherited and adversarial frontier ethos valuing self-sufficiency and access to wilderness. With the southern landscape imaginatively as well as factually linked to social class, crime--particularly forest arson--becomes the most important form of southern white countercultural expression.

Kirby continues his look at white resistance in a review of "redneck" discourse, examining the public reputation of southern whites through a range of cultural phenomena, from literature to country music to the computer network known as BUBBA-L. Original, personal, and artfully written, The Countercultural South offers fresh reflections on southern exceptionalism in American political life and culture.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 128 pages
  • 148.34 x 237.49 x 20.57mm | 376.48g
  • Georgia, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0820317233
  • 9780820317236

Back cover copy

At once upholding and refuting the South's conservative image, The Countercultural South explores the politically divergent cultures of resistance created by poor white and working-class black southern men. With humor and insight, Jack Temple Kirby traces these racially and politically opposed cultures back to the antebellum encounter between the anticapitalistic South and the capitalist individualism identified with the North. In a wide-ranging discussion encompassing the blues, sharecropping, and contemporary black intellectuals, Kirby shows how the needful practice of black labor bargaining in the South resulted in a progressive black tradition of verbal negotiation. The conservative separatism and retro-resistance of rural whites, Kirby argues, is embedded in an inherited and adversarial frontier ethos valuing self-sufficiency and access to wilderness. Kirby continues his look at white resistance in a review of "redneck" discourse, examining the public reputation of southern whites through a range of cultural phenomena, from literature to country music to the computer network known as BUBBA-L.
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Review quote

Kirby's love of southern soil and forest and their inhabitants makes The Countercultural South a remarkable, lyrical document.

--Bertram Wyatt-Brown "Journal of American History "
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About Jack Temple Kirby

Jack Temple Kirby is emeritus W. E. Smith Professor of American History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His most recent books include "Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture" and "The Countercultural South" (Georgia).
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