Southern History, Southern Horror: A guest blog post

Attention southern historians – let’s begin to consider the “macabre” side of the South’s history – the Nightmares of Dixie!


As Poole writes in this week’s guest blog post on Pop South,

Horror has always played a role in representations of the South. Abolitionist leaders rightfully described the barbaric treatment of human beings under slavery in their broadsides against the peculiar institution. They often did this by evoking the most lurid aspects of plantation life in order to, in the words of Boston abolitionist Theodore Weld, “thrill the land with horror.”

In the 20th century, racial segregation, uneven and makeshift economic development and the sometimes adversarial relationship of southern traditionalists with modernity helped create new monster traditions.  In pop and folk culture, “the hillbilly” and “the redneck” became images of horror. The gothic south of decaying ancestral lineages and the lurid south of tobacco roads meet somewhere along these borders of the monstrous and the terrifying.

So, what do True Blood, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deliverance have to do with history, particularly the history of the South? If you haven’t read Monsters in America yet, you’re in for a treat of an answer. Read Poole’s post here, and then go pick up your copy of the book before Halloween – or get it on Amazon Kindle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>