What are some of the primary "genres" which have defined the South in popular culture, according to Jack Temple Kirby?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In his book titled Media-Made Dixie: The South in the American Imagination, Jack Temple Kirby discusses a number of genres which he says have been taken as characteristic of southern culture.  Among those genres are the following:

  • Local color fiction: fiction that focuses on the south as a region and emphasizes the distinctive behaviors, habits, and dialects of its people.
  • Share-cropper social realism: fiction that tries to depict the actual lives of poor people of the region.
  • Gothic novels: fiction that deals with the darker, somewhat bizarre aspects of southern culture.
  • Chain gang fiction: writing that presents the darker aspects of the lives of southern prisoners.
  • “Thirties documentaries”: writing (and sometimes photographs) that tried to present very realistically the lives of southerners during the Great Depression.
  • The “Old South” genre: writings and films that emphasized the antebellum south. At one point, for instance, Kirby writes that

The mass-media managers, especially the moviemakers, experimented as usual with genre, and discovered for themselves the cash power of that grand Old South.

Kirby discusses a number of other genres that he associates with southern culture, but these are among the most prominent. 



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