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The Green Room, Autumn 1980

ISSUE:  Autumn 1980

Fifty years ago next month—in November 1930—a symposium was published by twelve Southern writers who called themselves Agrarians. The symposium was entitled I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, and among those contributing papers were John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren. Appearing in the depths of the Great Depression, I’ll Take My Stand urged Southerners to favor agriculture over industrialization, to forsake the prophets of progress, and to return to their alleged aristocratic heritage. Since aristocrats did not exactly abound in the South of 1931—a South plagued by pellagra, poverty, and prejudice—the Agrarians were denounced in many quarters, including the pages of VQR. Writing in the January 1931 issue, Gerald W. Johnson, a fellow Southerner, castigated Ransom, Tate, Warren & Co., observing that “the twelve should turn to agrarianism as a remedy would seem to indicate that their sole knowledge of the South has been gleaned from the pages of Joel Chandler Harris and Thomas Nelson Page.” If a half century ago the Agrarian vision seemed to many like Johnson more hopelessly romantic than harshly realistic, then what possible relevance could it have for the South today—a region changing as rapidly as the next shopping center is built and the next six-lane highway put through. That question is examined by Lucinda Mac Kethan. She is an associate professor of English at North Carolina State University and the author of The Dream of Arcady: Place and Time in Southern Literature, a study of post-Civil War Southern writers recently published by LSU Press.

While the Agrarians employed prose to discuss the South, photography served as a principal medium for two later books on the region during the Depression years. One, published in 1937, was Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell’s You Have Seen Their Faces. The other, now acclaimed as a classic, was Walker Evans and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee felt that the camera was “the central instrument of our time.” How that instrument was employed, respectively, by Evans and Bourke-White is the subject of Carol Shloss’ article. Ms. Shloss teaches English at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Flannery O”Conner’s Dark Comedies: The Limits of Inference, a work which LSU Press is publishing this month.

The third essay in this issue’s Southern trilogy concerns the writings of two of Jimmy Carter’s fellow Georgians, namely, Erskine Caldwell and Harry Crews. It is the contention of John Seelye that Caldwell has not been given his proper due as a writer of the modem South and that Crews is only beginning to get the recognition he deserves. A prolific author, MR. SEELYE is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina.

With foreign policy a major issue in the upcoming presidential election, it is perhaps fitting that Louis J. Halle should examine what role the university can play in the formulation of international relations. Certainly Mr.Halle is qualified to examine this question, since he has been both a practitioner and a teacher of diplomacy. He entered the Department of State in 1941, served as a member of the staff of American affairs, and later became a member of State’s policy planning staff under then Secretary Dean Acheson. Leaving State in 1954, Mr. Halle taught foreign affairs at the University of Virginia before going to the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, where he served as a professor until his retirement in 1977

Mary Elsie Robertson was born and grew up in Arkansas, where she received an M.A. from the University of Arkansas. A recipient of an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa, Ms. Robertson now lives in upstate New York, where “I spend most of my time writing.”

With the 1980 World Series coming to an end, the minds of Americans once again ponder a quadrennial question—who will be our next president. In making this determination, it is a contention of James David Barber, chairman of the Political Science Department at Duke University, that voters should pay less attention to presidential charisma and more to presidential character. His theories are examined in detail by Michael Nelson, a fellow political scientist with a degree from Johns Hopkins University.Mr. Nelson is a member of the faculty of Vanderbilt University.

Robert Morgan teaches at Cornell and is the author of three books of poetry, his most recent being Groundwork. His other books are Land Diving (1976) and Red Owl (1972).

Both a poet and literary critic, John Vernon is a member of the English faculty at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

A prolific author, Jay Parini made his debut in fiction last summer with the publication of his first novel, The Love Run, He was a founding editor of the New England Review.

Poems of Tom Luhrmann have appeared in many magazines, and this is his second appearance in VQR. Mr. Luhrmann lives and works in New York City.

John McKernan is also a director of writing, in his case at Marshall University in West Virginia. His VQR poems are from a forthcoming book, Lazarus Salt. Earlier poetry collections are Walking Along the Missouri River and Erasing the Blackboard.

Tom Smith is chairman of English at Castleton State College in Vermont, Since 1959, he has published more than 100 poems in 19 different periodicals, as well as four volumes of poetry. He is now working on a long poem, Jack’s Beans: A Five Year Diary. Mr. Smith notes that his first two poems to be published appeared in VQR’s Autumn 1959 issue.

Mark Halperin’s most recent book is Backroads, published in 1976. He is also the author of a chapbook, The White Coverlet. He is a member of the faculty at Central Washington University and lives just east of the Cascade Mountains,

Lou Lipsitz is a political scientist by profession and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent book of poems is Reflections on Samson, published by Kayak Books in 1977

Stuart Dybek writes both poetry and fiction and last year published a work of each. Brass Knuckles, a collection of poems, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, while Viking issued a story collection, Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Mr. Dybek teaches at Western Michigan University.

A native of Yorkshire, Olivia Davis grew up in London and is a daughter of the late Henry Marvell Carr, an English portrait painter and landscape artist. She became an American citizen in 1956 and is the author of two novels, The Last of the Greeks and The Steps of the Sun, and a collection of short stories, The Scent of Apples.

A former screenwriter, Walter Bernstein is now directing feature films. Milton Meltzer is an historian and a biographer, his most recent work being Dorothea Lange: A Photographer’s Life.

A native Virginian, Ross Howell, Jr. Spent most of his youth on a farm on the Blue Ridge plateau, later did undergraduate work at the University of Virginia and graduate work at Harvard and the University of Iowa. Like many children of the mountains, Mr. Howell recalls, “I grew up listening to yarns and tales, and they got into my blood. I wish I could resurrect the tellers.”

Doris L. Eder has published extensively on modernism, modern and contemporary fiction and poetry, and literature and psychology, subjects she taught for more than a decade. She now develops new programs at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

David Yalden-Thomson teaches philosophy at the University of Virginia, specializing in Hume and contemporary analytic writings. His interest in intelligence work in World War II stems from idle curiosity.

As his review indicates, David Kirby recently completed a year of research and study in Paris. He teaches American literature and writing at Florida State University and is the author of a book on Reconstruction historian and fiction writer Grace King.

A native of Germany, Hans A. Schmitt emigrated to this country before World War II and served with the U.S. armed forces during that conflict. He is a former member of the history faculty at Tulane University and is now a professor of history at the University of Virginia. His books include The Path to European Union, a study of efforts to form the Common Market.

David Wyattell is the author of Prodigal Sons: A Study in Authorship and Authority, recently published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

William S. Weedon taught philosophy at the University of Virginia for three decades before retiring in 1979.

Alfred J. MacAdam recently published Modern Latin American Narratives: The Dream of Reason.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW Staige D.BlackfordEditor GregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory Editor W. W. ABBOT J. C. Levenson Kenneth W. Thompson Ian Stevenson G. Edward White Roger Shattuck Elisabeth R. Aarone, Business Manager

A National Journal of Literature and Discussion published since 1925 in January, April, July, and October. Subscription rates: one year, $7.00; two years, $12.00; three years, $15.00. Canadian postage, 50 cents a year; foreign postage, $1 a year. Single copies, $2.00. Title page and annual index available in November.

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