Johns Hopkins recently sent me Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation by Lorri Glover and I have to admit, it's a pleasant read. In fact, it's a good candidate for summer hammock reading, being 184 pages of familial anecdotes.
The anecdotes are compiled mainly from primary sources and I imagine social scholars of the antebellum South would find these very interesting. "Hedonism and irresponsibility frequently gave way to acts of violence." "Fights broke out with great regularity." "Students did frequently and effectively organize themselves in resistance against school regulations." Each of these remarks introduces a small number of stories. And so it goes.
The problem is, where is it going? How far can you take historical anecdotes to make generalizations about culture?
Southern Sons should not be easy reading: it's part of a post-modern (pomo) discipline called Masculinity Studies. Never heard of it before. Neither has Google (barely so, in any case).
Southern Sons, unlike other pomo material, seems to lack an analytic framework, or a few touchstone works to refer to, or a few gurus or teachings to invoke. It just sits there - information organized topically with a few generalizations, a little bit of analysis, and no intellectual lineage. What to do with it?
Treat it as entertainment, perhaps.