Alexander William Hofmann “Caught Between Two Fires”: Art, Mass Culture, & the Fallacy of the Southern Agrarians “In Sincerity’s and Art’s Sake”
The Southern Agrarians & Mass Culture
Why and How I Came to This Topic:
This topic came about by complete happenstance. Precisely because I grew up in the Northeast, I developed a love for the South at USC as a region that was completely foreign to me—and which I often demonized. Classes on the region inspired me to seek to explain what I did not understand. My main area of interest is the Old South, but I compromised with my advisor, Professor of 20th Century American History Philip Ethington, by proposing a study of southern nostalgia in the 1900s. While reading sources on the New South, I discovered a group known as the Southern Agrarians, who opposed the industrialization of the South in the 1930s. Seeing as I could not stop talking about them, Professor Ethington encouraged me to continue to read up on the group.
The anchor of this study is the Southern Agrarians’ 1930 symposium entitled I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, which called for the South’s rejection of industrialism in all its corrosive, homogenizing, and dissociating forms. Nevertheless, the bulk of my primary source material comes from the letters between three Southern Agrarians—Donald Davidson, Allen Tate, and Stark Young—and an agrarian-minded novelist named Ellen Glasgow. I also examined correspondence among the three men regarding their opinions of Glasgow and mass culture in general. I am also taking advantage of published works.
Travel and Funding You Have Done/Received:
This summer, I received SURF money to travel to Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, so I could sift through the papers of Donald Davidson, Allen Tate, Stark Young, and Ellen Glasgow, which are spread across the Eastern Seaboard.