The West Virginia University Department of English and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will host the Jackson Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring a presentation by Coleman Hutchison, professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
His discussion, “Is It True What They Say About ‘Dixie’?: Race, Memory, and a Song of the South,” is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30 in room 130 Colson Hall from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Within weeks of its first performance on Broadway in 1859, “Dixie’s” problematic image of African American longing for the plantation South became a metonym for the region as a whole. One hundred and fifty years later, the song and its sobriquet continue to shape how people think about the U.S. south: Dixie functions variously as a shorthand for regional pride, racism, folk tradition, and backwardness.
In limning the complex interplay among song, word, and place, Hutchinson will use a diverse set of Dixie’s to make an argument about the cultural power of this five-letter word and its crucial connection to the Civil War era.
Coleman Hutchison is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches courses in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture, bibliography and textual studies, and poetry and poetics. He is the author of “Apples and Ashes: Literature, Nationalism, and the Confederate States of America,” the co-author of “Writing About American Literature: A Guide for Students,” and the editor of “A History of American Civil War Literature.”
Hutchison is currently working on two books-in-progress: “The Ditch is Nearer: Race, Place, and American Poetry, 1863-2009” and a popular biography of “Dixie.” The former project studies the interpenetration of locality and racial consciousness in American poetry between Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Barack Obama’s inauguration; the latter tells the story of how a song gave a region a nickname, and how that nickname helped to shape the region’s cultural identity.
The event and the reception that follows are free and open to the public.
CONTACT: Devon Copeland, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, West Virginia University, 304-293-6867, Devon.Copeland@mail.wvu.edu
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