Since I’m an English major, it goes without saying, I am required to take a myriad of courses dedicated to the subtleties and many nuances of language, writing and education. One of the most interesting classes I’ve taken, thus far my undergraduate career, has to be Southern Literature. I’m taking it this Spring for the second time in five years.
My first southern literature experience was with a wonderful woman who I owe entire undergraduate career to. Her name was Mrs. Palmer, and she had a particular perchant for southern writers, particularly the work of William Faulkner, John Kennedy Toole, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Shelia Kay Adams and Sharyn McCrumb. Under her tutelage, my appreciation for Southern literature and all manner of southern eccentricities bloomed, and has continued to remerge just like the perennial Iris that beautifies the great state of Tennessee.
It wasn’t until my second foray into Southern Literature, that I stumbled upon a book that has been buried deep in a bookshelf I have at home. While doing research for an upcoming term paper on the work of Flannery O’Connor, I happened to notice a dark paperback book that was hidden behind several other textbooks that I haven’t frequently used. The title immediately caught my eye The Foxfire Book, by Eliot Wigginton, published in 1972. I had read this several years ago, thinking I could somehow incorporate Wigginton’s articles into a term paper.
Sitting indian style on the floor, beside my bookshelf, I was immediately transfixed by the book. For those who don’t know. Foxfire is something of a “dummies” guide (before there was such a thing) to southern, chiefly Appalachian living. The book calls it: “… and other affairs of plain living.” It gives instructions on how to dress a hog, build a log cabin, planting by lore and all manner of folk remedies. It even has a chapter entitled “Moonshining as a Fine Art” which I found particularly humous. As I was rediscovering this book, I was actually visited by a brain wave – I’m taking another class this would be perfect for “Special Topics in Literature: Folklore.” In fact, in this class we just finished reading Lee Smith’s 1983 novel Oral History which I found to be quite a fascinating read.
I wonder if I could use The Foxfire for a paper in these two classes. It’s definitely worth thinking about.