Inventing Dixie : literary adaptation and the Hollywood Southern.
Many people have never visited the American South, but everyone has "seen the movie." For nearly a century, American films have been the chief cultural arbiters of southern regional identity in the popular imagination. However, the movie industry has never created this image entirely from scratch. Instead, virtually all major film representations of the South have come from literary works. With this in mind, I employ adaptation theory to examine how the process of translating southern literature into film has continually invented and reinvented the region for audiences throughout the twentieth century and across a range of genres. Although this study can only begin to uncover the complex forces that shape these cultural perceptions, several interesting patterns emerge. In portraying the South, filmmakers have consistently sought authenticity while achieving only the illusion of it because they remain largely unaware of the constructed nature of the myths that films constantly reinforce.