Emerging Scholars Organization

ESO TransparentEmerging Scholars Organization Mission Statement

Scholars emerge not in the furious instant of a time-lapse photograph, but in the slow and deliberate growth that such images elide. The Emerging Scholars Organization of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature resolves, in our ethical and philosophical visions, to become the ground that steadies a generation of scholars coming of age in what Sarah Kendzior has called “a post-employment economy.” As the first point of contact for scholars entering the field, we seek, in our most concrete efforts, to acculturate and professionalize new thinkers in southern studies. And we bring together the ideal and the reality in our demand that the profession grows toward nurturing its most junior members.

We empower emerging scholars; we collectivize. We work toward inclusion and accessibility for the people who struggle to find a seat at the table. From those already at the table, already inside the academy, we ask for acknowledgment of myriad absences. Indeed, we ask that the most powerful people in our field use those absences as impetus to take risks. To support emerging scholars, we offer transparency for the profession as it exists, and ask that southern studies scholars change the parts of that reality their hands can mold.

Though the field’s ground remains in place, it is fluid, not fixed; agential, not acquiescent. We exist to assert our power to shape the future of the field and create space for emerging and emergent scholars to explore worlds within and beyond the university as currently imagined. We build connections between emerging and established scholars, between universities that institutionalize southern studies and those that do not, between public intellectuals, alt.academics, and scholars in traditional institutional settings. We seek to find the shortest distance between disparate intellectual grounds, in order to ballast the next generation of scholars.

The Emerging Scholars Organization (ESO) is a new affiliate of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. Our mission is to foster the careers of graduate students, recent PhDs, lecturers, adjunct/visiting/assistant professors, and scholars new to the field of southern studies. To this end, the ESO offers a range of opportunities to professionalize by networking with both emerging and established scholars who study the American South. The Organization also offers useful resources such as online bibliographies, CFPs, job market seminars, and digital writing workshops. Our hope is that the ESO will complement the mission of SSSL by helping to develop future generations of innovative scholarship in southern cultural and literary studies.

ESO Executive Council

Meet the current ESO executive council members. Here you’ll find short  biographies as well as information on how to stay in contact with the council and members of the ESO.


The ESO is a professional body that advocates for the interests of the most economically vulnerable educators in the university system. Here you’ll find resources for emerging scholars and faculty allies to help forward our interests at the institutional, state, and federal level.


Here you’ll find resources including the ESO’s handbook to ethical mentoring and information about our Mentorship Program.

Spotlight Initiative

The Spotlight Initiative solicits and publishes interviews with southernist scholars about the state of the field including advice for those preparing to go up for jobs.


Here you’ll find bibliographies for graduate students and early-career scholars on a wealth of topics intersecting with or relevant to southern studies.

ESO Resources

These are resources written and compiled by the ESO as emerging scholar writing resources; these resources include “how to” tutorials and examples of common scholarly forms and genres.