Flashes of a Southern Spirit explores meanings of the
spirit in the American South, including religious ecstasy and
celebrations of regional character and distinctiveness.
Charles Reagan Wilson sees ideas of the spirit as central to
understanding southern identity. The South nurtured a patriotic
spirit expressed in the high emotions of Confederates going off to
war, but the region also was the setting for a spiritual outpouring
of prayer and song during the civil rights movement. Arguing for a
spiritual grounding to southern identity, Wilson shows how
identifications of the spirit are crucial to understanding what
makes southerners invest so much meaning in their regional
From the late nineteenth-century invention of southern tradition
to early twenty-first-century folk artistic creativity, Wilson
examines a wide range of cultural expression, including music,
literature, folk art, media representations, and religious imagery.
He finds new meanings in the works of such creative giants as
William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and Elvis Presley, while at the
same time closely examining little-studied figures such as the
artist/revivalist McKendree Long. Wilson proposes that southern
spirituality is a neglected category of analysis in the recent
flourishing of interdisciplinary studies on the South-one that
opens up the cultural interaction of blacks and whites in the
Subjects: History, Sociology
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