The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Newsletter
This issue of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature’s biannual newsletter has two intertwined goals: first, to voice the ethical priorities of the Society’s 2022 conference; and, second, to inform members about conference logistics. Please read updates from SSSL President Gina Caison and Conference Program Coordinator Stephanie Rountree below.
How do we move forward when institutions relentlessly cause harm? While the contributions to this newsletter cannot offer a salve for all intersecting, ongoing harms, they do extend a chance to reimagine our personal and collective actions.
These are not issues divorced from what we do in SSSL. As scholars who study the South — both the U.S. and the Global and all the iterations between and beyond — we know all too well the histories of disease, labor, disenfranchisement, policing, and racism are neither in the past (to come perilously close to quoting Faulkner in my first newsletter as President) nor mutually exclusive. Rather, they are mutually constitutive. Studying the literature and other cultural productions of the region requires a deft understanding of how to hold these things, along with many others, in view and make these issues legible for students and the larger public.
At the same time, this newsletter reminds us that thinking—and acting—beyond the status quo necessitates self-reflexivity regarding entrenched and persistent racism in southern studies.
The SSSL conference CFP and contributors to this newsletter encourage us to actively think beyond traditional panel presentations, to ask ourselves hard questions, be uncomfortable, and—ultimately—to learn and change. As readers move through this newsletter, my hope is that you see possibilities not only for yourself but also for the larger field.
Moreover, the SSSL constitution affirms that the Society is “committed to social equality and critical and rigorous discourse about the U.S. South. We are an anti-racist organization that contests historical revisionism, which white supremacists have used to maintain racial hierarchies, inequality, and injustice. We support scholarship that examines the heterogeneity of both the past and present South and that considers the borders of the region in expansive ways.
The theme for this issue is “transitions,” a word more powerful to my ears at this moment abbreviated, made “trans” in order to gesture toward the work we must to do to transcend and transform our organization in ways that transfer privilege, translate our work to the public sphere, and transpose who is being listened to and why. I invite your feedback, initiatives, and ideas, and I welcome your investment in the work ahead.
Volume 51, Issue 2 January 2018 undead issue James A. Crank is an assistant professor of American literature and culture at the University of Alabama. Author of the forthcoming Understanding Randall Kenan, as well as Understanding Sam Shepard and editor of New...
Volume 51, Issue 1 June 2017 dirty south issue James A. Crank is an assistant professor of American literature and culture at the University of Alabama. Author of the forthcoming Understanding Randall Kenan, as well as Understanding Sam Shepard and editor of New...