Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Zachary Davis, August 18, 2009

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:16 - College classes and interests

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Partial Transcript: What classes are you taking?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his classes for the upcoming term as well as his subject interests and paper ideas.

Keywords: Agriculture; College classes; Colleges; Sociology

Subjects: Agriculture; Education, Higher; Higher education; Sociology

00:04:23 - Thoughts on "I'll Take My Stand"

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm going to--

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his thoughts and feelings on the book, "I'll Take My Stand." He mentions that it helped him find his identity in Southern heritage as his grandmother was one of the "last of the old guard."

Keywords: "I'll Take My Stand"; Agrarian writers; Agrarianism; Family history; Industrialism; Southern heritage

Subjects: Agrarians (Group of writers); Families.; Genealogy; Industrialism; Racism; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:16:08 - Influence of his grandmother / more thoughts on "I'll Take My Stand"

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Partial Transcript: So you were really responding to this sense that the book, which was published in 1930 so it's, it's a long time ago, but the book--that the book was talking about kind of the foundations that Southern culture were established upon.

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses the influence his grandmother had on him concerning the Southern character and the Southern way of life. He speaks on how he adopted some of her ideas. He also speaks about how he did not read "I'll Take My Stand" critically and he did not focus on race and gender issues within it.

Keywords: "I'll Take My Stand"; Agrarians (Group of writers); Civil War; Family; Family history; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; Southern culture; Southern heritage

Subjects: Agrarians (Group of writers); Families.; Genealogy; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:23:35 - Racism, sexism, and religion in "I'll Take My Stand"

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Partial Transcript: Would it be alright if I read you something--

Segment Synopsis: Donahue reads to Davis an excerpt from "I'll Take My Stand" which concerns slavery, racism, and religion in the United States during the Civil War era. Davis talks about how he is not focused on the race and slavery issue but rather the religious aspects that were addressed.

Keywords: "I'll Take My Stand"; Agrarians (Group of writers); Civil War; Family; Family history; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; Southern culture; Southern heritage

Subjects: Agrarians (Group of writers); Families.; Genealogy; Industrialism; Racism; Religion; Slavery; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:29:35 - Reconciling Southern heritage and slavery

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Partial Transcript: But it's, um--I d--I'm wondering how you can, um, how you can make a connection with this as part of your personal historical heritage without, um, coming to terms in some way, with the, the history of race and the fact that Southern culture was built to some degree on a system of, of slavery and, and um, bigotry?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses that he has not been able to reconcile his Southern heritage and the institution of slavery on which it was built. He states that he has not lived longed enough to discover how to accomplish that. He compares his Southern heritage with his religious background and how he has not figured all the details out yet.

Keywords: "I'll Take My Stand"; Agrarians (Group of writers); Civil War; Family; Family history; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; Southern culture; Southern heritage

Subjects: Agrarians (Group of writers); Families.; Genealogy; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:33:13 - Social hierarchy and social movements in the South

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Partial Transcript: But I will say something, and it's probably still a non-sequitur, uh, and I'm not trying to defend the institution of slavery in any way, but there existed in the Southern culture a definite hierarchy. I mean, just aside from slavery.

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses the idea of hierarchy in the Old South and other cultures around the world and how that sense of hierarchy has been lost in the twenty-first century. He also discusses social movements with the same idea that do not really exist anymore.

Keywords: "I'll Take My Stand"; Agrarians (Group of writers); Civil War; Family; Family history; Hierarchies; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; Southern culture; Southern heritage

Subjects: Agrarians (Group of writers); Families.; Industrialism; Racism; Slavery; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:37:19 - Views on nostalgia, traditions, and progress

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Partial Transcript: And it's something that I, I worry about.

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses nostalgia and the worsening of institutions in the modern day as compared to the past and ultimately the Old South. He states that he wishes that many things would go back to the way they were.

Keywords: Civil War; Nostalgia; Southern culture; Southern heritage; Traditions

Subjects: Industrialism; Nostalgia; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:46:44 - Mother's view on farming

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Partial Transcript: But, di--wa--di--was there any disillusionment for you in experiencing farming--

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his relationship with his mother. He talks about her background, and her views on farming and Davis' desire to become a farmer. He states that she wants him to make farming a hobby and she wants him to make more money.

Keywords: Earning; Family; Family history; Gardens; Industrialism; Jobs; Money; Southern culture; Southern heritage

Subjects: Employment; Families.; Farming; Industrialism; Occupations

00:50:54 - Interest in religion

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Partial Transcript: You, you mentioned something in an earlier conversation about your interest--

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his desire to become an Episcopalian priest. He addresses the tension he feels about being a priest as well as a farmer. He also wants to provide for a family.

Keywords: Agrarianism; Careers; Farmers; Farming; Occupations; Priesthood; Religion; Vocations

Subjects: Farmland; Farms; Priesthood; Religion; Vocation

00:55:53 - Friends' views of values / clothing

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Partial Transcript: How do your friends respond to your, your sensibilities?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his relationship with friends and acquaintances and how his views affect their dynamic. He describes his clothing choices, which generally includes what he calls "plain clothes."

Keywords: Clothing; Fashion; Friendships; Plain clothes; Religion; Spirituality

Subjects: Clothing and dress; Fashion; Friendship; Religion

00:59:16 - Story of confrontation during a spiritual retreat

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Partial Transcript: Because I know, and it's something--oh, God, that stupid retreat helped me figure out.

Segment Synopsis: Davis tells a story of how he went on an academic retreat, during which he had a confrontation with the director. He then remarks on his own shortcomings, among which are his pride and arrogance.

Keywords: Arrogance; Confrontations; Ego; Pride; Religion; Spirituality

Subjects: Character; Religion; Spirituality

01:10:41 - Social effects of his clothing choices

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Partial Transcript: But you connect it in some way to the--to your clothes?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discuss the social effect of his clothing choice. He mentions that it does not help when trying to enter a romantic relationship. He says that people view him very differently and as a strange person. However, he says that it does not affect him.

Keywords: Changes; Clothing; Dress; Effects; Fashion; Friendships; Plain clothes; Religion; Spirituality

Subjects: Clothing and dress; Fashion; Friendship; Religion

01:12:55 - Preserving farming and agriculture

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Partial Transcript: As, as somebody who, uh, um, who's interested in farming and interesting--interested in preserving traditional ways of life that are, that are, that are really passing out of the world, to--

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his views on changes in society, and how agrarianism and agriculture plays into that. He believes that they are going "to sleep" and disuse but will be rediscovered one day.

Keywords: Agrarianism; Agriculture; Farming; Farms; Societal change; Traditions

Subjects: Agriculture; Farming; Social change; farms

01:16:31 - View of communities

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Partial Transcript: But, uh--so do you feel like you're just kind of out there trying to forge an entirely new path that nobody has--that nobody's trod before?

Segment Synopsis: Davis says that he feels that he is forging his own path and is not really a part of any one group. Rather, he is a part of many groups and there is no community in existence that he has found that shares his values.

Keywords: Community; Hierarchy; Social groups; Social interaction

Subjects: Communities; Social groups; Social interaction

01:19:56 - Influence of Wendell Berry

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Partial Transcript: So what, what about Wendell Berry's influence on you and your way of thinking?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses Wendell Berry's influence. He describes how he was introduced to Wendell Berry. He also discusses a college class on Wendell Berry in which he read much of his work, and a paper that he wrote that analyzes "The Memory of Old Jack" and the use of Psalms.

Keywords: "Memory of Old Jack"; Agrarianism; Agriculture; Colleges; Literature; Religion; Stewardship; Wendell Berry

Subjects: Agriculture; Berry, Wendell, 1934-; Education, Higher; Higher education; Literature; Religion

01:29:53 - Agrarianism and religion

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Partial Transcript: Has, uh, has Wendell Berry influenced your faith?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses the influence of Wendell Berry on his faith. He says that the biggest connection that he sees between Wendell Berry and Christianity is stewardship. He goes on to discuss stewardship within the church and throughout its history.

Keywords: Agrarianism; Christianity; Faith; Religion; Stewardship; Wendell Berry

Subjects: Berry, Wendell, 1934-; Christianity; Faith; Religion; Stewardship

01:35:10 - Introduction to "Be Here Now" / religious views and history / family's religious views and history

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Partial Transcript: Um, you mentioned "Be Here Now" just now. What was--what--under what circumstances did you come to that book?

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses how he obtained Wendell Berry's book, "Be Here Now." He also discusses his mother's past and view on organized religion. He also discusses his own past and experience with Christianity and drugs. He discusses his questions and doubts and how he came to embrace his faith.

Keywords: "Be Here Now"; Childhood; Christianity; Episcopal Church; Faith; Family; Family history; Organized religion; Religion; Spirituality; Wendell Berry

Subjects: Childhood; Christianity; Episcopal Church; Faith; Families.; Religion; Spirituality

01:47:55 - Views on vocation

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Partial Transcript: Well is there, is there anything else that you just would like to say about your--

Segment Synopsis: Davis discusses his views on vocation. He believes that vocation does not really exist anymore. He also discusses his feelings about his call to be a priest and how that fits in to his desire to be an agrarian.

Keywords: Agrarianism; Careers; Christianity: Farming; Faith; Occupations; Priesthood; Religion; Southern culture; Vocations

Subjects: Christianity; Faith; Priesthood; Religion; Vocation