Skip to main content


Birdsall, Stephen S. (1986). Changing Images of the Tourist South since 1950. Southeastern Geographer, 26(2), 135-143.


Most of what Americans know about distant places is accumulated through the written or broadcast reports of others. White non-Southerners' view of the American South, for example, was for many years strongly affected by Hollywood and by the creative literary efforts of the region's well-known novelists, playwrights, and poets. Furthermore, in his book on the role of the media in forming images of the South, Jack Kirby has argued that knowledge of the region was transmitted among image makers in a self-reinforcing circle of shared symbols. (J) The circle shifted only gradually from one set of symbols to another as new perspectives— or new truths— were brought to bear on established ideas of what the South was. Kirby suggests that even those who offered the images to a wider audience were likely subscribers to the validity of currently accepted imagery. Whatever images were used, the image makers chose them as means which would be effective in transmitting what was believed to be important knowledge of the region. Those who read the novels and poems or saw the plays and movies were exposed to shared symbolic representations of, at minimum, partial truths about the South.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Southeastern Geographer


Birdsall, Stephen S.