The Southern Women's College Press: Desegregation & the Myth of Southern Distinctiveness in an Era of Activism (1954 -1970)
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CitationAllen, Utaukwa. 2017. The Southern Women's College Press: Desegregation & the Myth of Southern Distinctiveness in an Era of Activism (1954 -1970). Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I examine how students at elite, private white women’s colleges in the South utilized the myth of Southern distinctiveness to articulate their opinions and attitudes on desegregation after Brown, during a protracted period of violent resistance, civil unrest, and limited integration (1954-1970). Through a critical analysis of student newspapers, I find that the cultural myth of “Southern distinctiveness,” provided easily accessible frames for students to construct and articulate their attitudes about the possible integration of black women students onto their campuses. This myth also guided students’ construction of their own identity and status within the changing racial paradigm of higher education. I argue that during the 1950’s to the middle of the 1960’s, students utilized conceptualizations of Southern heritage, evangelical Christianity, and Southern belle ideals, to construct the myth of Southern distinctiveness. These ideals helped students position themselves as “insiders” and “experts,” on desegregation, while Northern liberals and the federal government were positioned firmly as intrusive outsiders. White women students also saw themselves as the ordained preservers of a romanticized Old South, with the doctrine of “separate but equal” serving as a guiding principle. In the middle to late 1960’s as students increasingly participated in cross-racial interactions, conferences, and exchanges, they started to embrace a national, American identity alongside a Southern identity. They increasingly saw themselves as the leaders of a “New South.”
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33052861