Dixie's Great War: World War I and the American South (War, Memory, and Culture) [Giggie]
Examining the First World War through the lens of the American South
How did World War I affect the American South? Did southerners experience the war in a particular way? How did regional considerations and, more generally, southern values and culture impact the wider war effort? Was there a distinctive southern experience of WWI?
Scholars considered these questions during “Dixie’s Great War,” a symposium held at the University of Alabama in October 2017 to commemorate the centenary of the American intervention in the war. With the explicit intent of exploring iterations of the Great War as experienced in the American South and by its people, organizers John M. Giggie and Andrew J. Huebner also sought to use historical discourse as a form of civic engagement designed to facilitate a community conversation about the meanings of the war.
Giggie and Huebner structured the panels thematically around military, social, and political approaches to the war to encourage discussion and exchanges between panelists and the public alike. Drawn from transcriptions of the day’s discussions and lightly edited to preserve the conversational tone and mix of professional and public voices, Dixie’s Great War: World War I and the American South captures the process of historians at work with the public, pushing and probing general understandings of the past, uncovering and reflecting on the deeper truths and lessons of the Great War—this time, through the lens of the South.
This volume also includes an introduction featuring a survey of recent literature dealing with regional aspects of WWI and a discussion of the centenary commemorations of the war. An afterword by noted historian Jay Winter places “Dixie’s Great War”—the symposium and this book—within the larger framework of commemoration, emphasizing the vital role such forums perform in creating space and opportunity for scholars and the public alike to assess and understand the shifting ground between cultural memory and the historical record.