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March 15, 2012

ULM political science professors publish book chapter taking a close look at Southern politics

Dr. John W. Sutherlin, associate professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Dr. Joshua Stockley, assistant professor of political science at ULM, have published a book chapter in a work titled "Mediated Images of the South: The Portrayal of Dixie in Popular Culture," published by Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield.

Their chapter, "The Rise, Fall, and Rise of the Kingfish: How Southern Politicians are Successful in the Face of Overwhelming Stereotypes," examines the expanding nature of the media throughout the 20th century and its treatment of Southern politics and Southern politicians.

They said they found the media's treatment peculiar because no other region in the United States continues to be viewed in such a monolithic fashion despite indisputable evidence that the South has become an incredibly diverse region noted for economic prosperity, policy innovation, university growth, and successful (and powerful) politicians.

The professors conclude that the specter of racism, rural poverty, lack of education, and romantic views of the past still haunt politicians from the South.

Stockley said, "Regardless of Southern political successes and achievements, bloggers, authors, movie producers, journalists, and even political scientists are quick to reference David Duke, George Wallace, Huey Long, segregation, "Deliverance," and a host of other negatives. Southern politicians are under the persistent threat of negative stereotypes."

"One of the amazing things to note is that despite such huge disadvantages being from the South poses for politicians with national aspirations," Sutherlin stated, "how many recent presidents came from the South."

Stockley said they decided to write this chapter because they have always been fascinated with the intersection of Southern politics and popular culture.

"It is rare," commented Stockley," for scholars to engage in multidisciplinary research; however, this type of research allows political science to reach a wider audience and increases the relevance of political science."

The book is available through

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