Swinging in Place: Porch Life in Southern Culture

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Univ of North Carolina Press, Jan 14, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
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The front porch evokes cherished memories from across a lifetime for many southerners--recollections of childhood games, courtship, family visits, gossip with neighbors. In this book, Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon offers an original appreciation of the significance of the porch to everyday life in the South. The porch, she reveals, is not a simple place after all, but a stage for many social dramas. She uses literature, folklore, oral histories, and photographs to show how southerners have used the porch to negotiate public and private boundaries--in ways so embedded in custom that they often go unrecognized. Her sources include writings by Dorothy Allison, William Faulkner, Ernest Gaines, Gloria Naylor, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lee Smith, as well as oral histories that provide varying racial, gender, class, and regional perspectives.

Originally derived from a number of ethnic traditions, the porch evolved in America into something both structurally and culturally unique. In this, the first serious study of the subject, Donlon shows how porch use and porch culture cross ethnic and cultural lines and discusses the transitional quality of the porch space--how it shifts back and forth, by need and function, between a place that is sometimes interior to the house, sometimes exterior.

 

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Contents

ILLUSTRATIONS
6
Setting Terms
13
Martie and Mike Richmond Baton Rouge La 1999
16
Michael and Carolyn Cavanaughs book discussion group
22
Living the Everyday Life
27
Mountain child shooting slingshot near Buckhorn Ky 1940
31
Home of Wilson Adrien Petit Cut Off La ca 1928
47
Houses at Cape Mersurado Grain Coast West Africa ca 1700
59
Gallery and garden Charleston S C ca 1920
66
Gloria Johnson and her son Gregory Lake Charles La 1995
88
Wells with her grandfather New Orleans La ca 1956
118
McManus family porch Meadville Miss
131
Sophcom employee sleeping on swing 1998
174
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About the author (2003)

Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon is a folklorist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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