Southern Cultures: The Photography Issue

Summer 2011

Volume 17: Number 2

Edited by Harry L. Watson, Jocelyn Neal

128 pp., 7 x 10, , 107 illus., including 16 page color insert

  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6840-9
    Published: June 2011

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Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for the Study of the American South

The Cruel Radiance of the Obvious, The 2011 Photography Issue

Tom Rankin, Guest Editor

Our second Photography issue features full-color photographs by William Eggleston, William Christenberry, and much more.


Front Porch

by Harry L. Watson

"It requires very special talent to make great photographs, and those who have it are among our finest artists."

The Cruel Radiance of the Obvious

by Tom Rankin

"Photography in its finest and most decisive moments is about those tired or ignored or unseen parts of our lives, the mundane and worn paths that sit before us so firmly that we cease to notice. It is, we might say, about rebuilding our sight in the face of blindness, of recovering our collective vision."

American Studies

by Michael Carlebach

"Many years ago I concluded that for me truth and beauty, and perhaps wit and wisdom as well, are more likely to reside in what is ordinary and seemingly insignificant. This is, perhaps, a sideways look at America and American culture, but it is one that can produce moments that describe us all, but without makeup and bereft of a spokesperson."

Mapping The Democratic Forest

The Postsouthern Spaces of William Eggleston

by Ben Child

"When the color photographs of William Eggleston first appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976, the boldness of Eggleston's palette and his disregard for the conventions of black-and-white photography were shocking; nearly all the major critics were scornful, and Ansel Adams wrote a scathing letter of protest."

Stereo Propaganda

by Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier

"In this examination, magic and myth-two of my favorite vehicles-act as buffers to the dominant power structure. It brings together two bodies of collectibles, one personal and one commercial, with the intent of shifting stereotypes about race and southern culture."


"Those little color snapshots": William Christenberry

interviewed by William R. Ferris

"Santa Claus had brought me and my sister a small Brownie camera in the late 1940s, and I just loaded it with color film and went out to that Alabama landscape and began to photograph what caught my eye."

Heroes of Hell Hole Swamp

Photographs of South Carolina Midwives by Hansel Mieth and W. Eugene Smith

by Dolores Flamiano

"Mieth and Smith shared a belief that photography could bring social change. They viewed Pat Clark and Maude Callen as heroic healers whose stories would inspire racial understanding. Both photographers shot powerful images of the most visceral human experiences: birth, death, sexuality, and disease."

Women Working

by Susan Harbage Page

"‘Rough. It is rough being a female.'"

Not Forgotten

The Day Is Past and Gone

Family Photographs from Eastern North Carolina

By Scott Matthews

"‘It is in fact hard to get the camera to tell the truth; yet it can be made to, in many ways and on many levels. Some of the best photographs we are ever likely to see are innocent domestic snapshots.'"

All eight articles from this issue of Southern Cultures are also available individually as stand-alone ebooks.

About the Authors

Harry L. Watson is director of the Center for the Study of the American South and professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is cofounder, with John Shelton Reed, of Southern Cultures.
For more information about Harry L. Watson, visit the Author Page.

Jocelyn Neal teaches music theory, analysis, and popular music courses. She regularly presents her research at national conferences on American music, popular music, music theory, and cultural studies.
For more information about Jocelyn Neal, visit the Author Page.


“The rich array of photographs and graphics, and the sincere and effective attempt at readerly appeal, go well beyond what is attempted by most… Southern Cultures is truly impressive.”--The Council of Editors of Learned Journals