The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 133
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ence book. Four months after its publication as a selection of the Book
of the Month Club, it went into a third printing of 2o,ooo copies. As a
reflection of what southern folklorists, political scientists, musicologists,
geographers, historians, and students of such diverse topics as tenant
farming, collard greens, mule trading, and zydeco music can produce
when given the opportunity, it is a triumph for the scholarship of the
region. As a handy guide to the culture of the South it is both an em-
barrassment of riches and, in some ways, a frustrating volume to use.
The encyclopedia is built around twenty-four subject areas, each
with a consultant who contributes an overview essay. In an excellent in-
troduction, the editors state that they are defining the South in the
broadest possible cultural terms, as "a state of mind both within and
beyond its geographical boundaries." This approach is evident in the
choices of subjects and consultants, that include Thomas D. Clark on
Agriculture, Jessie Poesch on Art and Architecture, co-editors Ferris on
Folklife and Wilson on History and Manners, Bill Malone on Music,
and George B. Tindall on the Mythic South. Sections on Ethnic Life,
Social Class, Recreation, Black Life, Urbanization, Violence, and Wom-
en's Life create an interdisciplinary tapestry that is far removed from
conventional guides that are long on facts and short on interpretation.
It is the imaginative organization and the interpretive essays that
make the encyclopedia unique. Within the editors' framework of the
South as a cultural entity, a rich variety of topics are discussed, ranging
from the cavalier myth, to okra and gumbo (wonderfully written by
Carolyn Kolb,) to mobile homes, sacred harp singing, cheerleading and
twirling, gambling, fundamentalism, and Burma Shave signs. More
emphasis is given to the food, music, and pastimes of the region than
to the Civil War or Civil Rights. One particularly worthwhile section,
titled "Media," focuses on images of the South in popular entertain-
ment, with profiles of such figures as Vivien Leigh and her identifica-
tion as Scarlett, and Jean Renoir, the great French director of the epic,
"The Southerner." Connections between life and literature are fully
explored, as in the section on hunting that refers to Faulkner's Go Down
Many of the essays, such as Charles Reagan Wilson's "Expatriates and
Exiles" in the Geography section, are invaluable distillations of history,
literature, and reporting. His sketch of Willie Morris, Ralph Ellison, Al-
bert Murray, and their families getting together in Harlem for a New
Year's Day good-luck meal of blackeyed peas and cornbread is elo-
quent, as is his eerie description of the descendants of Confederate im-
migrants to Brazil having quarterly potluck dinners of fried chicken,
watermelon, and pecan pie, at the cemetery in Americana, Brazil,
where 440 exiled Confederates are buried.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/157/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.