Ron Cooper


Historians bristle when asked, "So how do you characterize the South? What makes something Southern? And please, be brief." Most respond that the region is much too complex for a simple answer. After all, this is the land of Thomas Jefferson and John C. Calhoun; Dizzy Gillespie and Britney Spears; Jasper Johns and Junior Samples. To make matters worse, we rarely agree on geographical membership. Is Texas the South? Missouri? Maryland? And, of course, what about Florida? If a culture is unified largely by the stories it tells about itself, even when those stories have little resemblance to historical fact, then one important way of characterizing the South is by examining the common themes of its representative literary figures.