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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 Twenty-Five: Of Time and River: How Place RacializedMy Course in Life



Of Time and River: How Place Racialized My Course in Life


During summer 2012, I taught a curriculum theory doctoral course that fixed on one book, Hans Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (1960). The class consisted of about 20 doctoral students, mostly African American women born and raised in various parts of the Deep South state in which I teach. I began my class with these words: “Greetings all, my name is Douglas McKnight. I am from Shreveport, Louisiana, and so I am racist.”

While that statement certainly may have been shocking, it was not meant to titillate, intimidate, or anger, though I certainly received some bewildered and wide-eyed stares. Instead, it was a curriculum experiment, a test of the central problematic of Gadamer’s notion of conversation, which always begins by tearing out a space for those prejudicial assumptions uttered by the speaker to rise up and become accountable. Only then, according to Gadamer’s philosophical footings, can dialogue and a mediated understanding make historically rigid tensions resolvable. In other words, can such deep-seated pressures that emerge from racialized existence be overcome absolutely, partially, or possibly not at all? And if not at all, does that matter or end its worth when it comes to public existence as long as some sort of acknowledgement, understanding, and maybe even some justice can occur? Of course, this all assumes that some equity among participants can be achieved. The rest of...

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