In 1973 the Memphis State Tigers reached the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament. Though they lost to UCLA, they inspired a civic myth. With each victory, the city’s enthusiasm ballooned, with paeans to stars Larry Finch, Ronnie Robinson, and Larry Kenon, as well as coach Gene Bartow. Politicians upheld the team as a vehicle of interracial unity, supposedly healing the scars from Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. This myth has elements of truth, as basketball provided common ground across lines of race and class. Yet it hides as much as it reveals. Success in basketball smoothed over Memphians’ anxieties about the university, the city, and the future of race relations. The story of this season thus illuminates how sports can not only foster racial progress, but also obscure racial divisions.
These Southern Studies alumni are in very different professions, with one common thread: presenting southern culture to the public, whether it is through historic preservation, working in the visual arts, showcasing the correspondence of our third president, or helping artists and arts institutions with funding.
Music of the South Symposium:Defining and Presenting Tradition in Southern Music – Wednesday, April 6, 2016 This spring’s Music of the South Symposium will investigate the creation and performance of the South’s various traditional music forms. The one-day symposium, “Defining and Presenting Traditional Music,” sponsored by the Center, Living Blues magazine, and the Blues Archive,… Read More >
This school year, grad student Chris Colbeck, working with the Southern Documentary Project, has done a series of interviews with speakers following their Brown Bag talks. Interviews have included questions about research inspiration and methods, the role of the academy in understanding public policy, and teaching James Agee and Walker Evans.
Clothing and Fashion in Southern History February 22 – 23, 2016 The Center will host a symposium on Clothing and Fashion in Southern History on February 22 – 23. The symposium will convene scholars from the fields of history and cultural studies who will contribute essays to a forthcoming book on the subject. The scholars… Read More >
Alum Katie King to Screen Film at Atlanta History Center Katie King (M.A. 2015) made a documentary film, The Sweet Auburn Curb Market, as part of her studies while in the graduate program at the Center. Katie will screen the film at the Atlanta History Center this Thursday, February 4 at 7pm. A panel discussion with… Read More >
Aligning with the tradition of Southern Gothic, Jaime Johnson’s Untamed articulates humankind’s capacity to decay as a marker of our identity. Set in the swamps and woods of Mississippi and Louisiana, natural places where one encounters life and death, growth and decay, Untamed depicts the fictitious story of a feral woman and her companions.
The South’s antiquity is here whether we want it or not. Our predicament is to decide whether or not we want to allow it to be here. To leave this past unseen and unstated is to accept the kind of amputated humanity we have been dealt by what we imagine to be a noble, if fraught, past. In reality, that past is just a story of theft. Legitimacy can’t be found nor can it be contrived. It can only be earned. We need to understand that what happened at Jamestown, and Stono, and Cowpens, and Appomattox, and Selma are in some ways just so many quick breaths taken in a very long life.