As scholars expand our understanding of the US South as both a diverse region and a constructed idea of region, some have argued that continuing to focus on questions of southern identity can limit scholarship by leaving too many old assumptions about the region in place. Some have even suggested doing away with “southern” altogether and subsuming southern studies within larger fields such as American or transnational studies, environmental studies, and so on. But, as these two books by Patricia G. Davis and Tison Pugh demonstrate, southern identity remains a deeply tenacious and contested matter that cannot be set aside so easily, not just in scholarship but also in the social, political, and creative lives of those not historically granted access to that identity, particularly southern African Americans and southern queers. The label “southerner” has traditionally been reserved for white southerners who...

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