"The Problem South is an extraordinary reimaging of the New South. The book is, all at once, a complementary, synthetic, and constructively revisionist text. Elegantly and persuasively, Ring plots a new narrative of the nation's most complicated and historically significant region and sets her story against a layered local, regional, national, and global backdrop."
—Matthew Pratt Guterl, author of American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation
"Natalie Ring's important study of the South's problems at the turn of the twentieth century examines not only single-crop agriculture, disease, poor whites, and racism, but also reaches beyond the U.S. and contextualizes southern distinctiveness in an international colonial perspective. Her careful research, clear analysis, and strong argument complicate the history of the progressive/unprogressive South and its halting steps toward modernism."
"With this book, her first, Natalie Ring steps up to play a key role in shaping U.S. southern studies. . . . Ring's distinctive contribution is to historicize conceptions of the global U.S. South more lucidly than anyone has yet done for the crucial post-Reconstruction period from the 1880s through the 1930s."
—Peter Schmidt, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
For most historians, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the hostilities of the Civil War and the dashed hopes of Reconstruction give way to the nationalizing forces of cultural reunion, a process that is said to have downplayed sectional grievances and celebrated racial and industrial harmony. In truth, says Natalie J. Ring, this buoyant mythology competed with an equally powerful and far-reaching set of representations of the backward Problem South—one that shaped and reflected attempts by northern philanthropists, southern liberals, and federal experts to rehabilitate and reform the country's benighted region. Ring rewrites the history of sectional reconciliation and demonstrates how this group used the persuasive language of social science and regionalism to reconcile the paradox of poverty and progress by suggesting that the region was moving through an evolutionary period of "readjustment" toward a more perfect state of civilization.
In addition, The Problem South contends that the transformation of the region into a mission field and laboratory for social change took place in a transnational moment of reform. Ambitious efforts to improve the economic welfare of the southern farmer, eradicate such diseases as malaria and hookworm, educate the southern populace, "uplift" poor whites, and solve the brewing "race problem" mirrored the colonial problems vexing the architects of empire around the globe. It was no coincidence, Ring argues, that the regulatory state's efforts to solve the "southern problem" and reformers' increasing reliance on social scientific methodology occurred during the height of U.S. imperial expansion.
View Shopping Cart
View Shopping Cart
List price: $24.95
Check ebook availability