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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader


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 Seventeen: Paula Deen and Those Days of White Magnolias with Bitter Tea



Paula Deen and Those Days of White Magnolias with Bitter Tea


The United States has gone through (and is continuing to go through) a recession that can be compared only to the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the 1930s Margaret Mitchell wrote her romantic nostalgic novel about the South of plantation myths filled with chivalry and petticoats, peach trees and femininity. At the core of this was Scarlett O’Hara, a character whose performance of extreme femininity celebrated while concurrently manipulated gendered codes embedded in the patriarchy. Romance, nostalgia, and escapist Busby Berkley musicals helped placate a nation facing unimaginable economic collapse. These characterizations “kept alive a belief in the possibility of individual success, portrayed a government capable of protecting its citizens from external threats, and sustained a vision of America as a classless society. Again and again, Hollywood repeated the same formulas: A poor boy from the slums climbs the ladder of success” (Mintz & McNeil, 2013, n.p).

Would You Like Some Bacon with That Bigotry?

During the “Great Recession in the Age of Obama” it is Paula Deen whose performance from (trash) bags to riches represents the “ingenuity and scrappy feminism” of a phoenix rising from the ashes of poverty, illness, and betrayal to assume her rightful place in the world of wealth and opulence. Both the Scarlett O’ Hara and Paula Deen characters made race invisible in the stories of their respective...

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