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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 Eight: Banjos and Shit: Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge and the “Hermeneutics of Minstrelsy”



Banjos and Shit: Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge and the “Hermeneutics of Minstrelsy”


[I]t’s not inherently heinous. The black minstrel tradition has provided great entertainment and great art. Black performers have played it shamelessly, signified on it, or attacked it—but they’ve had to deal with it in one way or another—it’s something that every American or fan of American culture should care about. They should care because that culture wouldn’t exist without minstrelsy. And because minstrelsy hurts—a lot. (Taylor & Austen, 2012, p. 5)

“Gentlemens Be Seated”

As rhythmic clapping and stomping begins, the room becomes still, as if the audience knows that something powerful is coming just by the coming together of hand to hand, foot to floor. With building tension, the fiddle comes in, haunting and rich with unspoken knowing, joined by the bones and the percussive “click-clacking” of history. The tune drifts out over the heads of those of us watching, speaking to the diasporic self within us all. And so begins “Genuine Negro Jig,” a hermeneutic exploration of the meanings and history behind the black minstrel musical tradition.

“Genuine Negro Jig,” also known as “Snowden’s Jig,” although originally credited to Dan Emmet, a white musician of the time, has since been said to have been written by the black family of string musicians that lived just down the road from Emmet—the Snowdens. For a number of...

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