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Narratives of the South:  Traditions, Transformations, Intersections

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | August 30, 2017 | No Comment |

A new series from our program faculty.

Studying the South & Why it Matters

by Julia Eichelberger and Tammy Ingram          August 30 2017 

Many people inside and outside of the South misunderstand the region, falling back upon stereotypes and generalizations to characterize it.  The College of Charleston’s Program in Southern Studies combats these incomplete and inaccurate views through research and teaching that attest to the region’s complexity and diversity. Together with our students, we work to understand the region more fully and to interpret its significance for the 21st century.

We reject factually unfounded narratives that glorify the Confederacy, which existed in order to sustain slavery.  Instead, our duty is to study and teach the full range of experiences of all Southerners, many of whom suffered generations of enslavement and were terrorized by white supremacists who regained control of the region after losing the Civil War. Such terror continues today, to our collective shame. We will not stop calling it by its name. We cannot afford to.

In our classrooms and in our scholarship, we tell the stories of Southerners who committed racist violence and of Southerners who bravely resisted it; we tell stories of women and men oppressed because of their gender or sexual orientation, and stories of Southerners who’ve worked to expand the region’s understanding of humanity and human rights. We study the region’s rising seas and troubled infrastructures, its governments and economies, its religious communities, its educational institutions, and its vibrant cultural traditions. We tell stories of genocide and of generosity. We tell stories of polluted landscapes and stories of Southerners who protect and restore them. We ask why so many Southerners have been trapped in poverty; we analyze individuals and institutions who transform Southerners’ lives for the better. In short, we study the region in all its complexity and include the voices of all of its citizens, past and present.

We stand with people in Charlottesville and throughout the country who resist white supremacist rhetoric and violence, and with all our allies who work for a more just, more inclusive, more sustainable region.

In the coming weeks, Southern Studies faculty will delve more deeply into topics that affect this region. We look forward to the following blog posts, with more to be added:

—Remembering Enslaved Labor and Jim Crow in C of C’s Historic Buildings—Grant Gilmore

—Monuments and African American Southerners—Bernard Powers

–Resistance/Activism/Racial Uplift at Avery Institute—Barrye Brown

–Archives and Power—Harlan Greene

–Southern Jews: Privilege and Vulnerability—Shari Rabin

–Who Identifies as “Southern” and Why?—Gibbs Knotts

–The Whiteness of Southern History/Southern Studies—Tammy Ingram

–Karenne Wood’s Poetry: Native American Histories in the South—Julia Eichelberger

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