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Wish I Was In Dixie

Joe Holley

So is there a quintessential movie about the American South? One you'd recommend to your visitors from New Zealand who might have expressed an interest in the land of kudzu and barbecue? "To Kill a Mockingbird" maybe? "Gone With the Wind"? "Deliverance"?

The question came to mind when I was writing the obituary for Jack T. Kirby, a historian of the American South who died Aug. 6 in St. Augustine, Fla. (The obit will be in tomorrow's Post.) In one of his best-known books, "Media-Made Dixie" (1978), he argues that what many Americans think when they think about the South is nurtured by movie cliches and stereotypes.

"We need some new tropes," he told the New York Times. "I think what we're doing is making Northern white folks feel good about themselves by telling the same story over and over again about the South."

The Times quote was from 1997. Have any new tropes appeared in the dozen years since? Any new stories?

By Joe Holley  |  August 16, 2009; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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As I read the intro to Dr. Kirby's obituary I thought, "Oh, no, they have the wrong Miami again." I was relieved to read further that indeed Dr. Kirby was an esteemed member of THE Miami University faculty. Often THE Miami is referred to as Miami of Ohio, while those johnny-come-latelys in Florida ia referred to as Miami. As our t-shirts say, "Miami was a university when Florida still belonged to Spain." This is the bicentennial year of Miami University, proudly situated in Oxford, OH.

Posted by: MU76 | August 17, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

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