"A Literate South" by Beth Barton          Schweiger

A Literate South Reading before Emancipation Beth Barton Schweiger

Publication date:
13 Aug 2019
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156mm
30 b-w illus.

A provocative examination of literacy in the American South before emancipation, countering the long-standing stereotype of the South’s oral tradition

A pervasive assumption about the culture of the southern United States is that it is firmly rooted in an oral tradition, not a written one. Schweiger complicates our understanding of literacy and reading in the American South before emancipation by shedding light on literature’s importance in helping the South preserve tradition, develop southern vernacular, and form a cultural identity. Schweiger explains how the “universal truth” of literacy’s incompatibility with slavery hid readers in this region from their society and beyond, and obscured a rich literate tradition.

Beth Barton Schweiger is an independent scholar in greater Seattle. A former professor of history at the University of Arkansas, she is author of Religion in the American South and The Gospel Working Up.