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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 Nineteen: Educated and Educating in the Post–Civil Rights-Era South: A Critical Memoir

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NINETEEN

Educated and Educating in the Post–Civil Rights-Era South: A Critical Memoir

P. L. THOMAS

William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” begins with the end: “When Miss Emily Grierson died…” (2012, p. 47). And then Faulkner retreats in time before moving back to the end when the reader, along with the ubiquitous town of the story, discovers that Emily has spent years of her life sleeping with the corpse of her lover, whom the town believed had disappeared before they could marry: “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (p. 59).

Having been born, raised, and educated in the South, I also taught high school English for 18 years in the high school I had attended. During most of those years my students and I would visit Faulkner’s South; “A Rose for Emily” and As I Lay Dying (1930) were the most common adventures. We confronted together the notion that Emily’s inability to let go of Homer, even as a corpse, represents the South’s death-grip on tradition. Students of mine often resisted loudly when I challenged that clutching the rebel flag in the 1980s and 1990s displayed a callous lack of historical or cultural awareness, and that defending the Civil War as an...

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