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The South: Culture and History: Film and Television

This library guide is designed for researchers studying any topics related to the South's culture and history.

Interpreting Film and Television

Gone with the Wind, a film based on a novel by Margaret Mitchell, reflects certain attitudes about the historical South.  Watch the trailer below. Here are a few questions that can help you analyze this clip and other films:

>Who produced the film (or wrote the scripts)?

>Why was the film made?

>Why are certain characters, settings, music, and colors used?  What do these elements communicate to the viewer?

>Does the film portray Southern culture accurately?  Is it more myth?  Perhaps some of both?

>What was happening in the United States when the film was made?

>What do the pictures communicate about issues of gender, race, and class?

You will probably have to consult criticism--articles and books about the film--to help you answer all of these questions.

Film and TV Resources

We can use TV shows and films to understand the South, especially for many twentieth century topics. Consider how Gone with the Wind, Cold Mountain, The Dukes of Hazard, The Beverly Hillbillies, Urban Cowboy, The Andy Griffith Show, Reba, and Sweet Home Alabama reflect attitudes, perceptions, and values of the South.

For an introduction on how to study these kinds of sources, please see Making Sense of Films.  One of the most important tips in analyzing films or TV shows is to find out who produced the film, when it was made, and why it was made--you may have to tap the resources in the "Criticism" box to the right to find out that context. 

To find films and televison:

>Go to a film company or TV network web site.

>Search the UA Libraries Catalog for DVDs.

>Try these resources:

Country Music Television--information about a number of Southern programs.

LexisNexis Academic--an exceptional resource for finding portrayals of the South in news shows like Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood.

You Tube--you might look for Southern-related TV and film clips or trailers here.

Hulu--you can find classic TV shows depicting Southerners on this site, including The Beverly Hillbillies.

TV Land--another great site for sitcoms about the South.


Here are a few resources you can use to find criticism, reviews, and other information about films and TV shows.  In many cases the best way to search may be by typing in the title of the film or show in quotation marks.

Academic Search Premier

Communication & Mass Media Complete   

Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection



For books search in Scout, the UA Libraries' Catalog.

TV News

TV and radio news can also help you understand perceptions of the South.  In addition to network web sites, here are some great resources:

LexisNexis Academic--an exceptional resource for news topics from the past twenty years. Includes foreign newspapers, news wires, TV and radio news transcripts, college newspapers, and polls. Users must first choose the type of information they want to search from the menus before searching. Includes transcripts from shows like Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, Entertainment Tonight, 60 Minutes.

National Public Radio--National Public Radio frequently covers news in technology, education, and popular culture. You can search the site for past stories, and find audio clips and transcripts.

Television News Archive--huge archives of news clips from 1968--present. Features news shows from CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC. You will need RealOne media software to view the clips, some are free and some require a fee.