Seems a Land out of Time: Documentary’s Enduring Legacy in the Twenty-First-Century South
The Epilogue explores the legacy and continued relevance of documentary work of the South. It highlights how the region’s documentary tradition influenced the work of travel writer Paul Theroux and his 2015 book, Deep South, which also includes photographs by Steve McCurry. Theroux and McCurry returned to many iconic sites in the region’s tradition, including Hale County, Alabama, and their work often resorted to clichés borrowed from their documentary predecessors. Travel writing functioned as one of the South’s first documentary forms of witness and its persistence in the twenty-first century testifies to the enduring need to seek out and document places that retain vestiges of the past where one can still encounter and record the roots of the region’s social and economic problems as well as its indigenous cultures. In this regard Deep South, like past travel writing and documentary work, imagines the South as the still alluring and yet pathological colonial appendage of the nation in need of reform. The chapter closes by reflecting on why the South will remain of interest to documentarians and why documentary will continue to generate contentious debates over the nature of identity and reality.
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