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Title: Defining Dixie: Creating and Deploying Country Music’s Mythic South
Authors: Strom, Phoebe
Keywords: Text;History, Department of;Honors papers;Student research
Issue Date: May-2014
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Abstract: Tracing country music's evolution reveals that its mythic South is the result of a confluence of social, political, economic, and cultural factors involving both sides of the nation and of the aisle. The process of homogenizing the South in country music functioned to reaffirm the belief system the region ostensibly represented, serving as both a provocation and a reaction to alternate condemnation, mockery, and idealization in the larger American political context. Thus, country's Southernness cannot be understood as the inevitable product of the genre’s Southern origins or static musical tradition. Rather, country emerged as hillbilly music in the 1920s and was promoted in racialized, regionalized ways. Attracting derision and expanding nationally, the genre adopted an overtly American tone and sound beginning in the 30s and continuing through the early Cold War. Underground segregationist music signaled the first signs of country's new conception of Southernness as an expression of white backlash to the Civil Rights Movement. In mainstream country, Southern nostalgia embodied everything that was missing from an America struggling with counterculture, the Civil Rights Movement, and Vietnam. 'Outlaw' country and Southern rock directly built off and challenged this view; the market power of their rebellious South and their connections to more progressive politics meant that their aggressive brand of Southernness became normalized. Modern country is defined by a combination of these two Southern identities, identities whose construction provides insight into the role of popular culture in the political sphere and how to structure conversations on race relations and Southern memory.
Description: Phoebe Strom granted permission for the digitization of his paper. It was submitted by CD.
Appears in Collections:Honors Papers

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