“Make up a story. . .For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” -Toni Morrison

To learn more about the 2019 Civic Institute and other sessions you may choose to attend, visit this link.

Geographical Imaginations: The Role of Storytelling and Mythmaking in Southern History and Identity

Stories help us make meaning of the world, and there is perhaps no region of America more storied than the South. But Southern stories, like most, aren’t simple. The stories of home that we tell ourselves and each other are intertwined with history and collective mythmaking. Some stories are passed down from generation to generation, while some stories are lost, forgotten, and/or erased—and must be recuperated. This session will explore some of the groundbreaking work being done to resuscitate the stories of marginalized voices in Southern history, and will examine the narrative structures of feeling that undergird our public and private identities.

Stories pull us together and can also pull us apart. Stories are crucial to Southern identity, yet, like all identities, are not monolithic or uncontested. We see this struggle for meaning play out in issues surrounding collective memory, most obviously when it comes to the Confederate monuments that pepper the Southern landscape. It’s clear the story isn’t over, “the past isn’t dead, it’s not even past,” (W. Faulkner) and it’s up to communities to tell their own stories, even if that means excavating the myths we’ve taken for granted.

There are stories of ourselves we tell each other, and there are stories of others that we tell ourselves. Public life calls us to pull strangeness closer, and to see through the thin veil of difference that divides us. The speakers featured in this session will outline creative strategies for telling and understanding stories that bring us closer to each other and closer to home.

Speaker details are forthcoming. View FAQs and save your seat today here! If you have additional questions, contact the event organizer, Kate Zeliff, at kmauldin@mathewscenter.org. We hope to see you on August 16th!