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Southern Belle

Kanopy (Firm)
Format
Video; Streaming Video; Online
Summary
The Civil War may be long over but the spirit of rebellion is hard to extinguish even in something as innocent as a girls' summer camp. Southern belle examines the 1861 Athenaeum Girls' School where young women eagerly sign up to become that iconic and romantic image of Southern identity: the Southern belle, replete with hoop skirt, hat and gloves, singing the region's anthem, Dixie. While the young women are eager to learn the "art" of being a lady by practicing penmanship and learning how to deep curtsy, a larger agenda for the camp appears to lurk under the surface. The teachers, all of whom work for no compensation, hope to instill genteel manners and build pride in Southern heritage. They have also carefully selected the time period so they can share the "truth" with the next generation about why the South seceded from the Union. For them, the Civil War had little to do with slavery and everything to do with states' rights and unfair taxation. Critics, however, say the camp experience whitewashes history and misinforms the next generation. Is the camp a self-esteem building, living history experience or does it ultimately reinforce divisions between race, gender, and geography in the present? As we begin the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Southern belle captures the divisive historical memory of an American subculture and challenges us to consider how a romantic portrayal of the past can affect current attitudes that continue to define and divide America today. Video extras include: The Scholars' Responses: Southern Belle is less about historic fact and more about how people use history to form their identity and understanding of the world. The film is meant to ignite discussion and debate between people with different beliefs, experiences and worldviews. The Scholars' Responses facilitates dialogue by providing additional historical context and analysis from leading historians and scholars. Topics include: The myth of the Southern Belle (7:43) How the southern belle became an idealized symbol used to maintain social hierarchy and a rallying cry for post- Civil War revisionists. Erasing Slavery from Secession (9:42) How the Lost Cause movement erased slavery as a dominant cause of the Civil War and replaced it with state's rights. Justifications For Slavery (6:03) How misleading and ahistorical arguments are used to rationalize the South's use of slave labor. The Southern Small Farmer (3:47) Why would the "yeoman" farmer go to war with no dog in the Civil War fight?Scholars interviewed: Stan Deaton, PhD, Director, Georgia Historical Society R. Blakeslee Gilpin, PhD, Asst. Prof. of History, University of South Carolina Tara McPherson, PhD, Prof. of Critical Studies, University of CA, School of Cinematic Arts Carroll Van West, PhD, Director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area Playing Out Confederate History (5:52) A short video that captures the directors' interest and intentions behind the making of Southern Belle. Filmmaker: Kathy Conkwright, Mary Makley.
Release Date
2010
Language
English
Notes
Title from title frames.
Published
[San Francisco, California, USA] : Kanopy Streaming, 2014.
Recording Info
Originally produced by Documentary Educational Resources in 2010.
Publisher no.
1107524 Kanopy
Related Resources
Cover Image
Description
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 132 min.) : digital, .flv file, sound
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Technical Details
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    a| The Civil War may be long over but the spirit of rebellion is hard to extinguish even in something as innocent as a girls' summer camp. Southern belle examines the 1861 Athenaeum Girls' School where young women eagerly sign up to become that iconic and romantic image of Southern identity: the Southern belle, replete with hoop skirt, hat and gloves, singing the region's anthem, Dixie. While the young women are eager to learn the "art" of being a lady by practicing penmanship and learning how to deep curtsy, a larger agenda for the camp appears to lurk under the surface. The teachers, all of whom work for no compensation, hope to instill genteel manners and build pride in Southern heritage. They have also carefully selected the time period so they can share the "truth" with the next generation about why the South seceded from the Union. For them, the Civil War had little to do with slavery and everything to do with states' rights and unfair taxation. Critics, however, say the camp experience whitewashes history and misinforms the next generation. Is the camp a self-esteem building, living history experience or does it ultimately reinforce divisions between race, gender, and geography in the present? As we begin the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Southern belle captures the divisive historical memory of an American subculture and challenges us to consider how a romantic portrayal of the past can affect current attitudes that continue to define and divide America today. Video extras include: The Scholars' Responses: Southern Belle is less about historic fact and more about how people use history to form their identity and understanding of the world. The film is meant to ignite discussion and debate between people with different beliefs, experiences and worldviews. The Scholars' Responses facilitates dialogue by providing additional historical context and analysis from leading historians and scholars. Topics include: The myth of the Southern Belle (7:43) How the southern belle became an idealized symbol used to maintain social hierarchy and a rallying cry for post- Civil War revisionists. Erasing Slavery from Secession (9:42) How the Lost Cause movement erased slavery as a dominant cause of the Civil War and replaced it with state's rights. Justifications For Slavery (6:03) How misleading and ahistorical arguments are used to rationalize the South's use of slave labor. The Southern Small Farmer (3:47) Why would the "yeoman" farmer go to war with no dog in the Civil War fight?Scholars interviewed: Stan Deaton, PhD, Director, Georgia Historical Society R. Blakeslee Gilpin, PhD, Asst. Prof. of History, University of South Carolina Tara McPherson, PhD, Prof. of Critical Studies, University of CA, School of Cinematic Arts Carroll Van West, PhD, Director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area Playing Out Confederate History (5:52) A short video that captures the directors' interest and intentions behind the making of Southern Belle. Filmmaker: Kathy Conkwright, Mary Makley.
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