DIXIE'S LAST STAND: OLE MISS, THE BODY, AND THE SPECTACLE OF DIXIE SOUTH WHITENESS

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2005-12-06
Authors
Newman, Joshua Isaac
Advisor
Andrews, David L
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Abstract
The interrelated studies within this dissertation provide new insights into the problematic nature of identity and the political disposition of the performative body in the contemporary American South. In particular, this research project will expand upon an emergent critical sociology of the South, particularly by interrogating the sporting and physical cultures of the University of Mississippi ('Ole Miss')--an institution which has historically functioned to discipline and authorize a preferred culture of the segregated body and the segregation of physical cultures. By investigating the genealogical ascendancy of whiteness at the University, as well as the more contemporaneous materializations of iniquitous social hierarchies, this dissertation disrupts 'traditional' notions of representation, subjectivity, and identity at Ole Miss. Looking beyond black and white, past the conventions of modern identity theory, this study interrupts the binaries of race and gender and reconsiders the dominant subject positions which actively shape the social experience on the Ole Miss campus. Through analysis of local cultural physicalities, namely the celebrity discourses of sporting icons Archie and Eli Manning and Confederate Civil War heroes such as the 'University Greys,' the symbolic embodiments of the Ole Miss brand (from the waving of the Confederate flag to the caricatured physicalities of the sporting mascot, Colonel Rebel), the complex relations between the student body and the campus space, and the spectacular practices of corporeal whiteness, this dissertation empirically identifies and theoretically criticizes the disciplinary regimes of power which normalize and marginalize the cultural experiences of the Ole Miss student subject. Engaging a qualitatively-grounded, multimethod analysis of the multifarious ways in which whiteness is encoded and decoded through discourses of the corporeal, this project is intended to begin the formulation of a broader interpretive framework from which the cultures of the body and the discourses of overt Southern whiteness can be understood as: 1) intersecting planes of postmodern subjectivity; and 2) the return of a conservative American 'ethnocentric monoculturalism.'
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