336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Race and the Reconstruction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915
Runner-up, 2015 Society for U.S. Intellectual History Annual Book Award
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, the character of the South, and even its persistence as a distinct region, was an open question. During Reconstruction, the North assumed significant power to redefine the South, imagining a region rebuilt and modeled on northern society. The white South actively resisted these efforts, battling the legal strictures of Reconstruction on the ground. Meanwhile, white southern storytellers worked to recast the South's image, romanticizing the Lost Cause and heralding the birth of a New South. In Stories of the South, K. Stephen Prince argues that this cultural production was as important as political competition and economic striving in turning the South and the nation away from the egalitarian promises of Reconstruction and toward Jim Crow.
Examining novels, minstrel songs, travel brochures, illustrations, oratory, and other cultural artifacts produced in the half century following the Civil War, Prince demonstrates the centrality of popular culture to the reconstruction of southern identity, shedding new light on the complicity of the North in the retreat from the possibility of racial democracy.
“Prince marshals a vast array of evidence and makes a convincing case for the persuasive power of many of these Southern stories.”
--Civil War Monitor
“Stories of the South is not only an important addition to the historiography of the period but also an impressively researched and engaging book full of well-told stories.”
--Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
“A powerful account of how the battles over regional identities in the postbellum United States were as likely to occur in the playhouse or travel brochure, as they were in the courthouse or senate chambers.”
--Journal of American History
"An innovative perspective that locates the consumption of stories of the South in the North and indicts northerners as culpable in the retreat from racial democracy . . . . [W]ill appeal to scholars across the humanities."
"Those southern stories—about a region essentially different but fundamentally American, one shorn of overt political separateness but nevertheless carrying great cultural authority on matters of race—retain a remarkable persuasive ability, despite several generations of scholarship devoted to undermining them. Prince’s excellent book shows why."
--American Historical Review
“Very original and innovative...certainly merits reading.”
--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
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