Rednecks: A Brief History

7 Apr

On the first day of class, my students often ask me, “Where are you from?” My southern accent throws them, I suppose, since we’re in a classroom in downtown Chicago.

For the past few years, I’ve responded, “Are you familiar with the reality TV series Duck Dynasty?” Most of them nod, wide-eyed. “I’m from that town,” I say. Then I add, “but don’t hold it against me.”

A couple of things are happening when I do this. First, I’m attempting to break the ice with these young adults by personalizing myself and revealing I’m up on current trends in reality television. Second, I’m also distancing myself from my hometown for fear that my incoming students will liken me to my televised counterparts: southern “rednecks.”

So begins Kelli Marshall’s fascinating brief history of the term “redneck.” You can read her JSTOR Daily post (including her discussion of the development of “postmodern rednecks”) here: Rednecks: A Brief History | JSTOR Daily.

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