The Tennessee Two-Step: Narrating Recovery in Country-Music Autobiography

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Moving beyond familiar myths about moonshiners, bootleggers, and hard­-drinking writers, Southern Comforts explores how alcohol and drinking helped shape the literature and culture of the U.S. South.

Edited by Conor Picken and Matthew Dischinger, this collection of seventeen thought-­provoking essays proposes that discussions about drinking in southern culture often orbit around familiar figures and mythologies that obscure what alcohol consumption has meant over time. Complexities of race, class, and gender remain hidden amid familiar images, catchy slogans, and convenient stories.

As the first collection of scholarship that investigates the relationship between drinking and the South, Southern Comforts challenges popular assumptions by examining evocative topics drawn from literature, music, film, city life, and cocktail culture. Taken together, the essays collected here illustrate that exaggerated representations of drinking oversimplify the South’s relationship to alcohol, in effect absorbing it into narratives of southern exceptionalism that persist to this day.

From Edgar Allan Poe to Richard Wright, Bessie Smith to Johnny Cash, Bourbon Street tourism to post-­Katrina disaster capitalism and more, Southern Comforts: Drinking and the U.S. South uncovers the reciprocal relationship between mythologies of drinking and mythologies of region.