John Shelton Reed

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  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Clergyman

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John Shelton Reed is a sociologist and essayist, author or editor of twenty books, most of them dealing with the contemporary American South. Reed has also written for a variety of non-academic publications such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and the Oxford American. He was graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964 and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1971. He taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1969 until his retirement in 2000 as William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of sociology and director of the Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. While at UNC he helped to found the Center for the Study of the American South and was a founding co-editor of the quarterly Southern Cultures.

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I should not care to live half-frozen in a trench, up to my middle in water, for three or four months, because someone in authority said I ought to shoot Germans. But if I were a Frenchman I should do it, because I would have been accustomed to the idea by my compulsory military service. War & Peace
Any Southern nationalist movement, especially one that wraps itself in the Confederate flag, is going to be viewed with suspicion, given the historical record.
As long as there are Japanese tourists, there will be a market for the Old South.
Barbecue is the third rail of North Carolina politics. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
But I still do believe that there are useful things to say about Elvis Presley, including what his own ordinariness as a poor Southerner says about 20th-century hero-making.
Country music historically has been sort of middle-aged people's music. Music, Chants & Rapps
Dixie has just fallen to pieces. There are little patches of Dixie. But even in the heart of Dixie - in Alabama - Dixie is slipping. They've stopped using the word in commercial listings.
Every Southerner, I think, knows people like Bill Clinton, maybe not quite as smart and maybe not quite as liberal, but kind of a glad-handing, country-club yuppie Southerner. The problem is we don't have labels for middle-class Southerners.
I can see why many Southerners, black ones in particular, don't like the implication that Southernness and the Confederate heritage are one and the same, because they're not. On the other hand, there are people who want to extirpate that completely and want folks to spit on the graves of their ancestors.
I do believe states' rights was a sound doctrine that got hijacked by some unsavory customers for a while - like, 150 years or so. I'm professionally obliged to believe that knowledge is better than ignorance, but some kinds of forgetting are OK with me. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I don't think massification and globalization and all those other 'izations' are necessarily hostile to regionalism.
I think there's a suspicion in the South of people putting on airs. You see it in most successful Southern politicians, but you also see it in someone like Richard Petty, who may be a multimillionaire stock car driver, but he's also beloved because he has a nice self-deprecatory way about him.
If you care to define the South as a poor, rural region with lousy race relations, that South survives only in geographical shreds and patches and most Southerners don't live there any more.
I've occasionally wished I had Caller ID. Even telemarketers, I hate to hang up on them. I try to explain I'm not interested, but they have all these canned responses so I end up having to hang up on them anyway.
Maybe we've been brainwashed by 130 years of Yankee history, but Southern identity now has more to do with food, accents, manners, music than the Confederate past. It's something that's open to both races, a variety of ethnic groups and people who move here. Music, Chants & Rapps ;History ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to Europe's wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes.
Southerners are also like ethnic groups in that they have a sense of group identity.
Southerners smile more than other Americans.
The nature of the South is changing faster than the stereotypes are. Much of the South now looks like San Jose. Is it still southern? Nature
The South is like my favorite pair of blue jeans. It's shrunk some, faded a bit, got a few holes in it. it just might split at the seams. It doesn't look much like it used to, but it's more comfortable, and there's probably a lot of wear left in it.
The South: What is this place? What's different about it? Is it different anymore? Good questions. Old ones, too. People have been asking them for decades. Some of us even make our living by asking them, but we still don't agree about the answers.
We could say that people who eat grits, listen to country music, follow stock-car racing, support corporal punishment in the schools, hunt 'possum, go to Baptist churches and prefer bourbon to Scotch are likely to be Southerners. Music, Chants & Rapps
Why can I write 'South' with some assurance that you'll know I mean Richmond and don't mean Phoenix? What is it that the South's boundaries enclose?
You ask people what their ethnicity is, and a lot of Scots-Irish people either don't know or if they know it they just don't acknowledge it. It's not something they really identify with. They're just plain old Americans, plain vanilla. I don't think they are a self-conscious voting bloc.