American hegemony and the irony of C. Vann Woodward’s ‘The Irony of Southern History’
2004 (English)In: Southeastern Geographer, Vol. 44, no 1, 90-114 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The noted historian C. Vann Woodward made an influential contribution to the understanding of Southern identity through his essays ‘‘The Search for Southern Identity’’ and ‘‘The Irony of SouthernHistory.’’ Woodward argued that what heconsidered to be the Southern experience of defeat,humiliation, and impotence in the face of intractable social problems set the South apartfrom the American national self-concept of a successful, prosperous, and victorious people. In the face of potentially dangerous entanglements abroad, Woodward concluded that the lessons of Southern history would be salutary if heeded by national leaders. The purpose of this article is toanalyze Woodward’s argument through the application of the framework of internal orientalism to reveal the ironies that underlie Woodward’s assumptions, particularly with regard to the influenceof the political hegemony of the United States and the cultural hegemony of the internal orientalist production of the South. Next, the parallels between the contemporary period and the time during which Woodward wrote his essays are assessed, revealing that Woodward’s description ofthe position of the U.S. in the world is remarkably similar to mainstream post 9-11 rhetoric. A content analysis of George W. Bush’s radio addresses shows that the national myths of innocence, virtue, success, and victory still have currency, followedby an examination of ‘‘Southern’’ critiquesof U.S. foreign policy. These critiques do not employthe vision of Southern identity set forthby Woodward, and the possible reasons for this divergence are discussed. Reading ‘‘The Irony of Southern History’’ through the lens of internalorientalism provides useful lessons for understandingthe connections between regional andnational histories.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 44, no 1, 90-114 p.
irony, internal orientalism, US South, history, nationalism, regional geography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-166772OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-166772DiVA: diva2:477546