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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader


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 Nine: “Why Do They All Have ‘Powers’?”: De/Constructing Southern “Otherness” in True Blood



“Why Do They All Have ‘Powers’?” De/Constructing Southern “Otherness” in True Blood


When HBO first launched True Blood, the TV series based on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries novels, I was quickly hooked. I mean, what’s not to love about a former Confederate soldier turned vampire who has a love affair with a telepathic, part-faerie waitress? The series True Blood is situated in the small, Southern, fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. In the first season, the show centered around the main characters, Sookie Stackhouse and the vampire Bill Compton, and the politics and dangers of vampire-human relations shortly after the invention of True Blood (synthesized blood), which provided vampires with a nonhuman food source that enabled them to “come out of the coffin” and live openly as vampires among humans (Harris, 2001). Numerous authors have written about the ways in which True Blood has literally and metaphorically addressed social issues such as racism (Rabin, 2010), heteronormativity (Brace & Arp, 2010), gender roles (Winnubst, 2003), notions of morality (Curtis, 2010), and the role of religion in society (Barkman, 2010) throughout its major and minor story arcs. I have followed the show since it began in 2008, and, much more than the troubled love affair between Sookie and Bill, it was this glimmer of social consciousness and the show’s ability to raise provocative political and moral questions that kept me watching. During the first few seasons, I was so...

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