Conor Picken and Matthew Dischinger, "Southern Comforts: Drinking and the US South" (Louisiana State UP, 2020)


In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Conor Picken and Matthew Dischinger about their edited collection, Southern Comforts: Drinking and the US South from Louisiana State University Press’s Southern Literary Studies Series. This collection of seventeen essays focuses on the mythologies and representations of alcohol production, distribution, and consumption (or rejection) in the literature and culture of the US South. Picken and Dischinger argue in the introduction that the relationship between the US South and alcohol has been overdetermined in popular imagination. The region is simultaneously known for its “dry” counties, temperance laws, and religious teetotalers as well as “hard­drinking authors, bootleggers, moonshiners, and distillers, to name but a few.” Picken and Dischinger interrogate the assumption that alcohol consumption is a community-building activity, arguing that drinking together, like eating together, often obscures underlying and persistent inequalities of race, class, and gender. Representations of Southern drinking culture tend to reify rather than resist hegemonic power structures. The collection explores and deconstructs these contradictory stereotypes through analysis of literary, historical, and pop culture representations of drink and drinking. Essays focus on a variety of texts and subjects from female blues singers, male country musicians, and Mardi Gras cocktails to the works of Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, and John Kennedy Toole – among many other representations in literature and film. Conor Picken is an Assistant Professor of English and the Faculty Director of the Compassio Learning Community at Bellarmine University. His teaching and research encompass 20th- and 21st-century American Literature, southern literature, modernism, and social change. Matthew Dischinger is a Lecturer at Georgia State University. Matt works at the intersections of American Studies, Southern Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. His research explores contemporary U.S. Multi-Ethnic literatures, literary melancholia, and speculative aesthetics.
Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.

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Carrie Helms Tippen

Carrie Helms Tippen is Associate Professor of English and Assistant Dean of the School of Arts, Science, and Business at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature.

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