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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader

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Edited By William M. Reynolds

Critical Studies of Southern Place: A Reader critically investigates and informs the construction of Southernness, Southern identity, and the South past and present. It promotes and expands the notion of a Southern epistemology. Authors from across the South write about such diverse topics as Southern working-class culture; LGBT issues in the South; Southern music; Southern reality television; race and ethnicity in the South; religion in the South; sports in the South; and Southernness. How do these multiple interpretations of popular culture within critical conceptualizations of place enhance our understandings of education? Critical Studies of Southern Place investigates the connections between the critical examination of place-specific culture and its multiple connections with education and pedagogy. This important book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of place. Readers will be able to center the importance of place in their own scholarship and cultural work as well as be able to think deeply about how Southern place affects us all.
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Chapter Twelve: Dirt Roads andNarrow Minds: Visual Media’s Queering of the American South

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TWELVE

Dirt Roads and Narrow Minds: Visual Media’s Queering of the American South

KAREN C. COLLIER

As a woman who was born in the South and grew up here, I’ve always considered the South home. I know what life is like here; I understand the diversity that comprises this region of the country. However, as I’ve traveled more extensively over the past decade, I’ve learned that not everyone appreciates the beauty and uniqueness of the American South. Instead, they see it as a source of ridicule, an inspiration for jokes and other forms of humor. Sadly, I have seen how the South is subordinated in the eyes of many people around the world—often, people who have never even experienced the South for themselves. The formation of these stereotypes by which the South is queered can be attributed largely to representations by popular culture, specifically television and movies.

The first time I felt “bad” for being a Southerner was when I visited friends in Illinois in 2001. During that trip, I was ridiculed for my Southern roots, enduring jokes about my accent and allusions to my lack of education. The people who made these comments had never even been to Georgia, my home state, or anywhere else in the South. Thus, I could not help but wonder how they had developed such biases toward this region of the country. Why had they decided that these stereotypes were accurate and, further,...

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