Southern Community, Commerce, and Representation in the Global Age Restricted; Files Only

Hughes, James L (Spring 2013)

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Southern Community, Commerce, Representation in the Global Age is a multi-model dissertation in two parts, consisting of text and film, which explores representations of the rural- and working-class South. The first part examines representations of rural- and working-class white Southerners in photographs and film from 1908 and 1974. The second part, a case study of cotton deindustrialization in the rural South Carolina piedmont town of Chester, combines a written micro-history of the decline of cotton conglomerate Spring Industries with four short observational films which capture particular aspects of that decline's aftermath. The dissertation focuses on mill photographs of Springs's presence in Chester in 1908, rural horror and hixploitation films, Southern history, and documentaries. In doing so it draws on primary sources of photographer Lewis Hine, filmmakers Roger Corman, Monte Hellman, and Tobe Hooper, archival documents of Springs Industries, and original production of observational documentaries. Since the founding of the American colonies, rural-and working class Southerners are portrayed in particular, if not negative, ways as backwards, lazy, and violent. These characterizations persist in the American imagination and are reinforced by visual images. As a consequence, the voices of such Southerners portrayed in visual culture are lost in the din of broader representations. Southern Community, Commerce and Representation in the Global Age looks at particular examples of these stereotypes in films and photographs, seeking to recover some of those voices. It does so through the methods of photo-elicitation, historical readings of rural horror and exploitation films, and production of original documentaries. Such methods recover local history and explore the historical motivations of rural characters in film, allowing for a more nuanced lived history of Southern culture and custom. The second part of the dissertation, which involves the original documentaries, extends these interventions by using the case study of the decline of Springs Mills in Chester, South Carolina as a departure point the ways in which film and historical text combine to provide nuanced, particular portraits of the South which stand in counterbalance to the broader portrayals in Part One. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 1-21

I.) Part One: Representations

Chapter One  22-66                    

History, Method, and Representation: Photo-Elicitation and Lewis Hine’s Photographs of Child Labor in Chester County, South Carolina 

Chapter Two 67-103

Hixploitation: Southern Masculinity, the Past, and Representations of the Rural in Cockfighter  

Chapter Three 104-131

Rural Horror: Race, Violence, and Representations of the South in Post-War Film 

II.) Part Two: Chester: A Case Study

Chapter Four                                                       132-166 

A Global South Micro-History: Springs Industries in Chester County

Chapter Five                                                       167-177

Interventions: Four Observational Films about Chester County

a. Cotton Hills Farm: Enduring the Seasons in a Globalizing County

b. Alex and Carlisle: Masculinity and Politics among the Ruins

c. Good Samaritan Clinic: Administrating Health in Chester County 

d. Loaves and Fishes: Observations from the Bread Line at Christ Central Ministries

Conclusion: Towards a More Perfect Southern Visual Culture 178-186

Appendix A 187-211

A Worker’s Perspective: An Interview with Larry Hyatt with Myra Mobley

Bibliography 212-220

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  • English
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