INSIDE THIS ISSUE – Winter 2018
Catalyst is published by the Communications & Alumni offices within the Institutional
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"Leaving the South"
Professor Mary Weaks-Baxter, Ph.D., has a new book, “Leaving the South: Border Crossing Narratives and the Remaking of Southern Identity,” which was published by University Press of Mississippi this past summer and is now available nationwide at retailers like Target and Amazon.
The book tells a very personal story for Weaks-Baxter because she, like millions of other Southerners in the 20th century, left the South to live outside the region. In writing the book, Weaks-Baxter says she greatly benefited from classroom discussions with students on issues related to gender, race, and Southern culture and literature. “Leaving the South” is her sixth published book.
University Press of Mississippi provides the following overview of Dr. Weaks-Baxter’s book on their website www.upress.state.ms.us:
How narratives about mass migration from the South reconstructed southern identity
Millions of southerners left the South in the twentieth century in a mass migration that has, in many ways, rewoven the fabric of American society on cultural, political, and economic levels. Because the movements of southerners — and people in general — are controlled not only by physical boundaries marked on a map but also by narratives that define movement, narrative is central in building and sustaining borders and in breaking them down. In Leaving the South: Border Crossing Narratives and the Remaking of Southern Identity, author Mary Weaks-Baxter analyzes narratives by and about those who left the South and how those narratives have remade what it means to be southern.
Drawing from a broad range of narratives, including literature, newspaper articles, art, and music, Weaks-Baxter outlines how these displacement narratives challenged concepts of southern nationhood and redefined southern identity. Close attention is paid to how depictions of the South, particularly in the media and popular culture, prompted southerners to leave the region and changed perceptions of southerners to outsiders as well as how southerners saw themselves.
Through an examination of narrative, Weaks-Baxter reveals the profound effect gender, race, and class have on the nature of the migrant’s journey, the adjustment of the migrant, and the ultimate decision of the migrant either to stay put or return home, and connects the history of border crossings to the issues being considered in today’s national landscape.
Professor Mary Weaks-Baxter, Ph.D.
Dr. Baxter is Andrew H. Sherratt College Professor and Professor of English. She is also author of Reclaiming the American Farmer: The Reinvention of a Regional Mythology in Twentieth-Century Southern Writing, coeditor of The History of Southern Women’s Literature and Southern Women’s Writing: Colonial to Contemporary and co-author with fellow Rockford professors Catherine Forslund and Christine Bruun of We are a College at War: Women working for victory in World War II.
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