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Manners and Southern History

Manners and Southern History

Edited by Ted Ownby
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Manners and Southern History
    Book Description:

    The concept of southern manners may evoke images of debutantes being introduced to provincial society or it might conjure thoughts of the humiliating behavior white supremacists expected of African Americans under Jim Crow. The essays inManners and Southern Historyanalyze these topics and more. Scholars here investigate the myriad ways in which southerners from the Civil War through the civil rights movement understood manners.

    Contributors write about race, gender, power, and change. Essays analyze the ways southern white women worried about how to manage anger during the Civil War, the complexities of trying to enforce certain codes of behavior under segregation, and the controversy of college women's dating lives in the raucous 1920s. Writers study the background and meaning of Mardi Gras parades and debutante balls, the selective enforcement of antimiscegenation laws, and arguments over the form that opposition to desegregation should take. Concluding essays by Jane Dailey and John F. Kasson summarize and critique the other articles and offer a broader picture of the role that manners played in the social history of the South.

    Essays by Catherine Clinton, Joseph Crespino, Jane Dailey, Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Anya Jabour, John F. Kasson, Jennifer Ritterhouse, and Charles F. Robinson II

    Ted Ownby teaches history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-641-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Ted Ownby

    The topic of manners is immediately interesting to most scholars in southern history, but the question of how to study manners—or even how to define the term—is not so clear. The literature on manners and southern history is small, with just a few important works showing the potential of investigating manners, if we ask the right questions. The papers in this volume began as contributions to the Porter Fortune Jr. History Symposium at the University of Mississippi. Scholars invited to the symposium had considerable freedom in defining manners and deciding how to approach the topic. As the organizer...

  4. Southern Ladies and She-Rebels; or, Femininity in the Foxhole: Changing Definitions of Womanhood in the Confederate South
    (pp. 1-19)
    Anya Jabour

    Tennesseean Ellen Renshaw House exploded with rage against the “blue devils” who occupied her hometown, Knoxville, in Fall 1863, shortly after House’s twentieth birthday. Despite repeated resolves to “behave as a lady,” House, who described herself as “a very violent rebel,” soon discovered that her new identity as a “She Rebel” could not be reconciled with the behavior of a southern lady.¹ House’s growing hatred for the invading troops—and her desire to see them come to harm—were incompatible with guidelines for feminine propriety, which counseled gentle submission and a nurturing outlook. “I feel perfectly fiendish,” wrote House in...

  5. The Etiquette of Race Relations in the Jim Crow South
    (pp. 20-44)
    Jennifer Ritterhouse

    In July 1939, an African American domestic servant named Eloise Blake was fined fifteen dollars by the recorder’s court of Columbia, South Carolina. Her crime was “disorderly conduct over the telephone.” As the Associated Negro Press reported, Blake had asked to speak to “Mrs. Pauline Clay,” rather than simply "Pauline," when she called the white home where her friend Pauline Clay worked as a servant. Clay’s employer, a white woman named Hadden, was so incensed by Blake’s impudence that she called the police and filed charges. Blake hired a lawyer, and William Pickens, the Director of Branches for the National...

  6. Fifty Percent Moonshine and Fifty Percent Moonshine: Social Life and College Youth Culture in Alabama, 1913–1933
    (pp. 45-75)
    Lisa Lindquist Dorr

    “The only time a girl does not want the spotlight on her is when she is on a wild party,” remarked a short entry in the first edition of theRammer Jammer, the University of Alabama’s new student humor magazine. Introduced in 1924 during Prohibition, theRammer Jammerconfirmed the connection between alcohol and the social relationships between men and women.¹ After alluding to young coeds partying with abandon, the entry continued, “All she wants then is moonshine, fifty percent moonshine and fifty percent moonshine.”² Dating, college life, and getting “tight” walked hand in hand on the University of Alabama...

  7. Scepter and Masque: Debutante Rituals in Mardi Gras New Orleans
    (pp. 76-96)
    Catherine Clinton

    In the efforts of full disclosure, I must confess I was not a debutante. When I was coming of age in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the practice of being introduced into “society” through a series of parties culminating in formal presentation at a ball following your first year of college was far from tempting.¹ When the city fathers of Kansas City wanted to bolster tourism in the 1880s, they sent a delegation to New Orleans to come back with a plan. Subsequently, civic boosters founded a “krewe,”—the term coined in New Orleans by secret societies established in...

  8. What’s Sex Got to Do with It? Antimiscegenation Law and Southern White Rhetoric
    (pp. 97-113)
    Charles F. Robinson II

    In January of 1929, the Arkansas Supreme Court reviewed a case involving an alleged violation of the state’s antimiscegenation law. Martha Wilson, a white woman, and Ulysses Mitchell, a black man, both residents of Fort Smith, had been convicted of unlawful cohabitation. According to the facts of the case, Mitchell had been seen on several occasions at Wilson’s home. He mowed her lawn, entertained her by playing music from an old guitar, and attended parties that Wilson had at her residence. Witnesses for the state recalled that Mitchell always came into the home and left by way of the front...

  9. Civilities and Civil Rights in Mississippi
    (pp. 114-136)
    Joseph Crespino

    In the 1950s and 1960s, during African Americans’ historic confrontation with southern white supremacy, nonviolent civil rights protests dramatized the shortcomings of any number of white southerners’ political and moral commitments: their fealty to formal declarations of democratic government; their loyalty to American values of equality and fair play; their Christian sense of brotherhood across racial lines. But the sight of well-dressed, dignified black southerners bravely asserting basic rights against vicious and violent whites also mocked the notion that most white southerners had of themselves as a peculiarly polite and well-mannered people. Civil rights struggles were, at least in part,...

  10. Remarks
    (pp. 137-151)
    Jane Dailey

    There are two broad areas of intersection among these papers. Three of them speak explicitly of gendered ideals of manners, three of them speak of raced codes of manners, and one crosses those boundaries to consider, at some points, gendered aspects of what the author calls racial etiquette. I want to consider the papers individually, grouped broadly into these two categories, inserting, at suitable intervals, some more general historical and methodological remarks about the topic of manners and southern history.

    Let me begin with Lisa Dorr’s investigation into white heterosexual dating conventions at the University of Alabama and Auburn between...

  11. Taking Manners Seriously
    (pp. 152-162)
    John F. Kasson

    Manners and southern history: the terms nestle as sweetly together as honey and biscuits. To speak of manners andsouthernhistory seems so unproblematic that we might begin to pry open the subject by considering how comparatively unlikely it would be to have a symposium on manners and midwestern history, to take my own native region as an example. For the Midwest is not commonly thought of as having a distinctive set of manners, an especially distinctive history, or even a distinctive sense of regional identity, and the South is thought to have all three. The first question this symposium...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 163-164)
  13. Index
    (pp. 165-169)