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Moving beyond familiar myths about moonshiners, bootleggers, and hard­-drinking writers, Southern Comforts explores how alcohol and drinking helped shape the literature and culture of the U.S. South.

Edited by Conor Picken and Matthew Dischinger, this collection of seventeen thought-­provoking essays proposes that discussions about drinking in southern culture often orbit around familiar figures and mythologies that obscure what alcohol consumption has meant over time. Complexities of race, class, and gender remain hidden amid familiar images, catchy slogans, and convenient stories.

As the first collection of scholarship that investigates the relationship between drinking and the South, Southern Comforts challenges popular assumptions by examining evocative topics drawn from literature, music, film, city life, and cocktail culture. Taken together, the essays collected here illustrate that exaggerated representations of drinking oversimplify the South’s relationship to alcohol, in effect absorbing it into narratives of southern exceptionalism that persist to this day.

From Edgar Allan Poe to Richard Wright, Bessie Smith to Johnny Cash, Bourbon Street tourism to post-­Katrina disaster capitalism and more, Southern Comforts: Drinking and the U.S. South uncovers the reciprocal relationship between mythologies of drinking and mythologies of region.

Editorial Reviews

Gina Caison

With this volume, Picken and Dischinger offer a compelling intervention in southern studies. Together, the assembled essays provide a necessary corrective to popular narratives that regard the U.S. South as either a homogenous landscape of dry counties or awash in the honorifics of a noble cocktail culture. Southern Comforts demonstrates the profound problems with both of those assumptions and allows readers to understand that where and why one imbibes is often as important as what one drinks.

Brannon Costello

As attentive to the nuances of literary form as it is to the intricate circulations of commodity culture, Dischinger and Pickens’ illuminating, capacious volume presents an impressive array of vital and persuasive new perspectives on drinking and southern culture.

John W. Crowley

Can I buy you a drink? Calhoun or Ojen cocktail? Julip or Gin? Sour Mash or Moonshine? If you’re dry, we can look into temperance and prohibition or explore fiction and movies, tough women and good old boys, blues and country. Pick your poison or pleasure – or both. With its innovative regional approach to American drinking, in an array of essays on the imaginary and material South, this book adds a top-shelf label to alcohol and addiction studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807171738
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 03/11/2020
Series: Southern Literary Studies
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.09(d)

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