Tom Landess

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Another Reason Why the Agrarians Lost
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Another Reason Why the Agrarians Lost

Andrew Lytle’s “The Hind Tit” is the best essay in I’ll Take My Stand (1930), not only because it focuses on the small, independent farmer, the class the Agrarians most admired, but also because Lytle nails the volume’s primary thesis

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Pietas and the Southern Agrarians

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From the December 2000 issue of Chronicles.

Pietas—the ancient virtue of respect for family, country, and God—is becoming increasingly difficult to practice in a nation driven half mad by guilt. Our nation’s past, once uncritically revered, is now uncritically

The Genesis of Tourist Traps
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The Genesis of Tourist Traps

According to the 1940 census, Framalopa County had a population of slightly over 8,000.  About half of these lived in town, and the other half lived in the country: truck farmers and cattlemen who came to town on Saturdays

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Granny and Jesus

Granny had been brought up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and went to church once every two or three years, usually on Mother’s Day, hoping my father would join her and learn to appreciate her innumerable virtues.  He

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Sunday Dinner for the Boys

Once the airbase was operational, the streets were overflowing with uniforms, particularly on weekends.  Most, like Stella Pegram’s husband, Mark, were Army Air Corps.  A few were British.  They would wander the streets on Sunday mornings, staring into the windows

Plane Crashes
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Plane Crashes

Before World War II, airplanes were something of an oddity in the skies over Framalopa.  We would stop and gaze at a Piper Cub chugging along through air, occasionally cutting its motor and gliding for a few seconds while we

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Myra Cunningham

I don’t know how Myra Cunningham came into our lives.  Perhaps my mother met her at the USO canteen, where women, married and single, volunteered to serve coffee and cookies to soldiers, talk to them, play bridge with them, and

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My Father’s “B” Stick

Congress passed a law mandating a national speed limit of 35 miles per hour, and the whole country slowed down to a crawl.  To be sure, some people broke the law, but many more obeyed it—or came close to obeying

Hollywood’s War
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Hollywood’s War

Are we currently at war with militant Islam?  Not in the same way we were with the Germans in World War I and the Japanese and Germans in World War II.  In the two world wars, it was a people

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The Celebration of War

World War II surprised most Americans, who, in those days, paid less attention to the rest of the world than they do today.  In our town, World War I was a dissolving memory, kept alive by the sale of paper

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Ophelia and Genavy

In one of those arrangements that defy explanation, Ophelia and my mother frequently ate lunch together.  Usually—but not always—Ophelia would make the sandwiches or salad, serve my mother, and then fix an identical plate for herself.  My mother would sit

Cheerfully Unafraid
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Cheerfully Unafraid

Last week, we received word that Marion Montgomery was dying.  He had been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of cancer only days earlier and had already fallen into the deep sleep that so often precedes death.  By the weekend

Communities and Strangers
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Communities and Strangers

According to many Christian theologians, Jesus, the moral Will of God, descended from a state of perfection to take on flesh and blood, with all the pain that goes with living and dying in time.  He did this to reveal

Eddie Constable
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Eddie Constable

In the 1940’s, towns like Framalopa were too small for chains like A&P and Piggly Wiggly.  Consequently, the landscape was dotted with small neighborhood grocery stores, usually mom-and-pop operations with little merchandising and a spare inventory.  You were lucky if

Mrs. Pyle and the Japs
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Mrs. Pyle and the Japs

The Pyles lived on the corner of Bahia Vista and Pomelo.  Even on the sunniest day, you could barely see their one-story house, crouched in the dark shadows of three sprawling oaks hung with Spanish moss.  The huge lot on

One Civilian Casualty
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One Civilian Casualty

In 1942, I had never met my Aunt Ann or my four first cousins.  They’d moved in the 30’s from Jacksonville to Los Angeles, where Uncle Stuart worked for Walt Disney.  Among other things, he provided the voice for the

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Stella in our Garage Apartment

During World War II, we rented our garage apartment to Army Air Corps officers and their wives.  The Army had commandeered a small airfield just outside of town, where instructors began to train fighter pilots.  When the local newspaper published

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A Game of Bridge on a Hot Afternoon

In retrospect, I find it shocking that, during World War II, Americans submitted without resistance to a kind of government-imposed serfdom that transformed our habits and our hearts.  We have always prided ourselves on being independent, rebellious, even irreverent in

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A Linguistic Dilemma

I taught college English for 24 years, and I still search newspapers and blogs for signs of the Beast, which, these days, attacks us mostly through language—errors of agreement, misplaced modifiers, and non sequiturs.  That’s how you tear down

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Texas Rebellion

You must have noticed that the National Education Association, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, left-wing bloggers, and even the Dallas Morning News went ape in March over the outcome of textbook deliberations in Texas.  It seems that

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Race and Racism: A Brief History

Tom LandessToday, many Americans presume that the debate over slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries turned on the question of race.  Though race was an ingredient in the Great Debate, it was no more than a pinch of salt.  Both …

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Race and Racism: A Brief History

Today, many Americans presume that the debate over slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries turned on the question of race.  Though race was an ingredient in the Great Debate, it was no more than a pinch of salt.  Both

Another Reason Why the Agrarians Lost
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Another Reason Why the Agrarians Lost

Andrew Lytle’s “The Hind Tit” is the best essay in I’ll Take My Stand (1930), not only because it focuses on the small, independent farmer, the class the Agrarians most admired, but also because Lytle nails the volume’s primary thesis

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Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, R.I.P.

When Popcorn Sutton died in mid-March at the age of 62, the national press ran obituaries.  Though he was just an old moonshiner who’d plied his trade for half a century and done nothing else of consequence, a whole bunch

Homage To a Friend
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Homage To a Friend

Years ago, when a Vanderbilt graduate-school party was careening toward promiscuity, a quiet young woman, an English major, suddenly shocked everyone by saying, “Tell you what let’s do: Let’s all name the books we’ve never read.”  Suddenly it was time

Envy and the Consumerism of the Have—Nots
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Envy and the Consumerism of the Have—Nots

You can make a good argument that, by the late 20th century, the Seven Deadly Sins had become the Seven Lively Virtues.  In the 1960’s, the media lauded the anger of students who bombed police stations and set dormitories on

Robert Frost: The Definitive Work
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Robert Frost: The Definitive Work

During much of the 20th century, Robert Frost was widely regarded as our greatest living poet.  Yet the Frost poems that students used to read in college English classes were those more easily accessible: “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” “Stopping by Woods

With Malice Toward Many: Washington, Lincoln, and God
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With Malice Toward Many: Washington, Lincoln, and God

Most Americans in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries believed in the public expression of religious sentiments as surely as they believed in publicly proclaiming their patriotism.  Such expression was not merely their right; it was their duty.  Indeed,

Agrarians, Greenies, and Goreites
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Agrarians, Greenies, and Goreites

Since its publication in 1930, I’ll Take My Stand has never been out of print, and each succeeding generation produces new disciples, though sometimes with a slightly different take on the original document.  In recent years, some have seen in

It’s Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girls
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It’s Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girls

Historians tend to make the same argument: The South lost the Civil War because its economy was agrarian rather than industrial, with too few munitions factories to supply Confederate troops with weapons and too few textile mills to clothe them. 

Sex, Propaganda, and Higher Education
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Sex, Propaganda, and Higher Education

Over the past few years, college administrators and faculty committees have been tackling a relatively new ethical question raised on campuses across the nation: What about sex between faculty members and students?  Older professors can remember when the answer to

Harry Jaffa and the Historical Imagination
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Harry Jaffa and the Historical Imagination

In the 1970’s, Mel Bradford and I were teaching at the University of Dallas, which offered a doctoral program in politics and literature.  Students took courses in both disciplines.  It was a well-designed curriculum and produced some first-rate scholars.

Bradford

It’s Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girls
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It’s Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girls

Historians tend to make the same argument: The South lost the Civil War because its economy was agrarian rather than industrial, with too few munitions factories to supply Confederate troops with weapons and too few textile mills to clothe them. 

An American Dilemma
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An American Dilemma

In 1976, the Episcopal Church, U.S.A., met in General Convention to consider, among other things, two questions: the adoption of a new Book of Common Prayer and the ordination of women.  Whether they knew it or not, the delegates were

Outgrowing the Past
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Outgrowing the Past

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, a chill wind blew across the rural South.  The Court upheld the decision of the city fathers of New London, Connecticut, to grant

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Drifting Away

As America drifts away from orthodox religious belief, God becomes less and less personal and more and more political.  The secular world surrounds and absorbs the spiritual.  In the 21st century, the Lord joins political parties, circulates petitions, stumps for

The Old South, the New South, and the Real South
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The Old South, the New South, and the Real South

In April 1968, the University of Dallas Literature Department hosted an Agrarian reunion. We invited John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, Andrew Lytle, and Donald Davidson to come together in several private sessions to discuss the history and

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Pietas and the Southern Agrarians

Pietas—the ancient virtue of respect for family, country, and God—is becoming increasingly difficult to practice in a nation driven half mad by guilt. Our nation’s past, once uncritically revered, is now uncritically condemned. Families are regarded as breeding pens