In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Digital Initiatives and Database Manager Bobby Keane writes about White Masculinity in the Recent South.
LSU Press has a long tradition of publishing important books on race and gender in the American south. Books like The Civilian War: Confederate Women and Union Soldiers during Sherman’s March (Lisa Tendrich Frank), Radical Spiritual Motherhood: Autobiography and Empowerment in Nineteenth-Century African American Women (Rosetta R. Haynes), and We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750–1835 (Katy Simpson Smith) have explored different aspects of the female experience—be that of white women or their African American counterparts—in the context of the old South. These books offer an invaluable resource for people like me who wish to understand the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color who have helped to shape today’s social environment.
While the aforementioned books offer insight into an experience that I cannot innately relate to, White Masculinity in the Recent South, edited by Trent Watts, offers perspectives on the experience that I am currently living. I read this book with great pleasure as I recognized in its pages not only myself but also family members, friends, and colleagues.
Ask someone who has never lived in the South to describe white southern males. There is a good chance that you will hear some of the following: they are good ol’ boys; they are racist; they are gun nuts; they wave Rebel flags; they are Bible-thumpers; their political views are extremely conservative; they are blissfully ignorant rednecks who talk funny.
Why does this stereotype exist? White Masculinity in the Recent South explores some of these misconceptions and traces their origins through essays on subjects like football in the South, southern wedge-issue politics, deer camps, religious camps, college fraternities, the novels of William Faulkner, and the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Most important, however, the essays in this book challenge the idea that all southern white men share the same beliefs and values. As Watts states in his introduction, “Beyond the stereotypes of patriarchs and bubbas, there are still many untold stories about white manhood and masculinity.” As a white southern male who doesn’t fit the good ol’ boy archetype, this is a welcome affirmation.
This book is perfect for those who wish to have a deeper understanding of the modern white southern male experience. The appeal of White Masculinity in the Recent South should not be limited to outsiders though. White southern males will also find this a valuable resource to explore the complexity of who we are now and how our recent history has shaped us.
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