By Richard H. King
A examine of a big cultural flow, this article indicates how Southern writers of 1930 to 1955 attempted to return to phrases with Southern culture. It discusses the ensuing physique of vital literature - fiction, poetry, memoirs and historic writing.
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Extra resources for A Southern Renaissance: The Cultural Awakening of the American South, 1930-1955
Beginning in 1890 with Mississippi, Southern states passed a series of measures—the poll tax, the grandfather clause, literacy and understanding tests, property qualifications and the white primary—which "constitutionally" disfranchised blacks and a significant number of poor whites as well. These disfranchisement measures were generally spearheaded by the regular Democratic party and were aimed in part at the poorer white farmers who were potential supporters of the Populist party. After the turn of the century, white political participation and voter turnout dropped precipitously, though never of course to the levels forced on blacks.
Plebeian anticapitalism," so crucial in the appeal of authoritarian and protofascist ideologies elsewhere, found little popular resonance. In addition, economic distress, the residual effects of the Populist movement, and a general anti-aristocratic animus meant that the white classes and masses lived in an uneasy tension rather than forming a united front. The industrial development so assiduously pursued by the burgeoning urban and Piedmont middle classes and state government support of industrialization pointed to significant departures from the agrarian ethos which had dominated the region up to that time.
Odum deeply regretted the publicity surrounding the Scopes trial and considered it an example of the failure of intellectuals to make contact with the "people" and educate them. 7 Thus he took a conciliatory position somewhere between H. L. Mencken and the Vanderbilt Agrarians. Odum's collisions with entrenched economic and religious interests revealed several salient traits. With his belief in the persuasive power of facts and objective research, he tended to see all conflicts as misunderstandings.