Jake Mooney has an extensive article in today’s Progress exploring Charlottesville’s cultural identity to figure out one thing: how southern are we? We get free tea refills, but it’s unsweetened. Our most popular bluegrass band will argue long and loud that they don’t play bluegrass. We say “y’all,” but without a hint of a drawl. So what do you think, cvillenewsers, are we southerners, or is that identity fading?
8 thoughts on “How Southern Are We?”
I figure things are balancing out. There’s lots of imports (like me — my family moved here when I was a kid), but there is also a resurgence of southernism. When I went to Western, there were lots of preps that fought hard to be viewed as quite southern, and I don’t mean of the gentleman persuasion, either. Some of these kids I’ve seen recently, years later, and many of them appear to have retained their adopted identities and made them their own.
So my wild guess is that it’s all pretty much balancing out.
When I was a young and ignorant UVA student, I used to think of Charlottesville as “us” (meaning me and my fellow cosmopolitan students from all over the place) and “them” (the yokels, who were decidedly southern in attitude and generally suspicious of the sophisticated student population). Pretty funny, huh?
Once I left UVA, moved downtown, got a job, got involved in local events, politics, etc., my attitude changed (even though I’m still young and generally ignorant). My experience is that Charlottesville residents have a lot of “northern sensibility” mixed with a fondness for southern nostalgia, pride in their Jeffersonian roots, and a not-insignificant dose of northeastern liberalism. C’ville is definitely not a town of southerners in the traditional sense, but I think it’s a good model for the south to emulate.
When I was a young and ignorant UVA student, I used to think of Charlottesville as “us” (meaning me and my fellow cosmopolitan students from all over the place) and “them” (the yokels, who were decidedly southern in attitude and generally suspicious of the sophisticated student population).
This is interesting — it never occurred to me that this would be the attitude held by students. I wonder how widespread this is, and how long this has persisted for? I suppose that for students coming from up north, especially those from big cities, their run-ins with locals couuld occasionally lead them to leap to the conclusion that accent == moron. With the physical isolation that UVa offers, it would be easy for such a perception to be commonplace.
Charlottesville hasn’t been Southern since we surrendered to the North. The only extent to which people try to preserve the “Southern character” of Charlottesville is because they’ve just moved here and don’t want it to be too much like New York. This “preservation” consists of fighting to keep the dirt roads and tarpaper shacks. Presumably these “preservationists” are still looking for the folks on porches playing the banjo.
This is pretty much the case with every college, especially those in small towns. Students quickly figure out where they can go and which places are “townie places”. Townies are usually considered ignorant, inbred, and incestual, no matter what part of the country the college is.
This isn’t really a South vs. North thing, either.
Agreed–this happens at almost all colleges, especially residential as opposed to commuter colleges. I think it happens partly because of the fact that colleges/universities are almost always located near/amid the more blue-collar, sometimes more rundown, economically less thriving parts of town. Think about it–how many universities can you think of that are surrounded by tony, upscale suburban neighborhoods? That’s not where they get built–tony folks wouldn’t stand for it.
So when college students look around, they often see the seedier side of town, and they assume that the “townies” are dumb, undereducated, etc.
This is the way it was at my alma mater–located smack dab in the middle of one of the poorest parts of the city. Since I had grown up in the city, I knew that wasn’t what all locals were like, but my friends who came there from other places assumed everyone in the city was like that. A lot of class snobbery comes into play.
Interesting. I’d always assumed Charlottesville was a Southern town desparately trying to by Northern. Ask anyone from further South (or further north, for that matter), and they’ll tell you it’s still the South until you hit Maryland.
So what do you think, cvillenewsers, are we southerners, or is that identity fading?
I have a hound dog that climbs trees. Swear to god. But I don’t live in Cville anymore. I’m near Nelson Co.
Wait, I didn’t answer the question.
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