The Digital Issue
David A. Davis is Assistant Professor of English and Southern Studies at Mercer University and Editor of the SSSL Newsletter.
Place was the recurring theme at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature biennial conference in Nashville. Being in the home of the Agrarians evidently inspired some provocative conversations about traditional southern locations. Barbara Ladd gave a plenary lecture that re-examined marginal and utopian spaces, and panellists on an institutional southernism session interrogated the notion of the South at the center of southern studies, even to the point of proposing “_____ern studies” as a field of inquiry.
This issue of the newsletter focuses on southern studies in an alternative landscape: digital humanities and media studies. Creating a new website for the society is a top priority so that we can permanently plant ourselves in the hyperreal landscape of cyberspace. But many scholars have already pioneered this terrain, and Sharon Monteith’s state of the field column on southern film and media cultures maps the territory and Allen Tullos and Scott Nesbit’s interview on digital southern humanities points the direction for new explorations.
Once SSSL moves into its new home on the web, the newsletter will move there as well. Until then, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Kreyling is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University and President of SSSL. He is the author of several books, including Inventing Southern Literature and The South that Wasn’t There: Postsouthern Memory and History.
A part of my greeting at the 2012 conference went like this:
I have not been able to find out exactly how many times we have met as a group. SSSL was founded in 1968 amid the teargas and the street demonstrations, and we have met every two years at least since the early 1980s. So we have a history. These days that history is fueled by the New Southern Studies, a change of direction called for by Dana Nelson and Houston Baker in a special issue of American Literature in 2001. The title of the special issue is Violence, the Body, and “The South,” which sounds kind of forbidding, but let me read you just a little from their closing paragraph, their send off to us:
“One cannot simply love or hate “The South,” endorse or denounce it. For there is nothing about “The South” – in all its “thickness” – one can do simply. … In tandem with the seriousness of revision and reinterpretation that mark a new Southern studies, we hope there will also be more than a modicum of pleasure . . . . There is no better actual or scholarly geography in which to write the economies of a new national pleasure of specificity than the South.”
Baker and Nelson remind us that we have deep wells of pleasure in our field, great individual figures, complex intersections of histories, races, cultures; and now not to be overlooked since 1968 our own history and drama of different critical practices and temperaments and traditions.
I soon found out how many time we have met on the biannual cycle: twelve times since 1990. And the sense of our own participation in history came through in sessions like the one Dan Turner organized on “Institutional Southernism.” Professional self-assessment is good, and we should not let a biannual meeting go by without trying to determine where we stand in relation to changes in other fields. But being in the position of president for two years gives a person the sense of the way the field moves and changes even when we don’t seem to be steering it. In other words, we should pay attention to our history without becoming obsessed with it.
The 2012 Program numbered just over fifty sessions with three or four presentations in each. That comes out to roughly 170 attendees. SSSL has had larger attendance in the past, but this year’s program might be one of the most diverse. There were sessions on Beatrice Ravenel and Burt Reynolds, The Help, a surprising (to me) number of papers on antebellum and 19th century southern writing, and a panel of Canadian scholars organized by Jon Smith. Sexualities, regionalism and its fate, Native Americans who also identify (or not) with the complexities of southernism were topics of conversation. Individual presenters came from the U.K. and Australia. The major figures were present – Welty, Warren, Faulkner, Porter, Taylor. Natasha Trethewey is bound for “major” status soon if number of papers is any indication. This is not the SSSL of 1968, nor is it the SSSL of 1990.
What should concern us is the SSSL of 2014. I will do my best in the lame duck remainder of my presidency to get the website active. We lost a lot of visibility for SSSL and the conference as it lay inert, if not dying. The Executive Council has appropriated the money; there should be nothing holding us back.
That’s why I want to close this message with a version of the sermon I give to my students. Students cannot afford to be passive about their educations, and we can’t afford to be passive about SSSL. We have a president for the next two year term, and a president elect ready to take over for the biannual term after that. What we need is an active and engaged membership eager to fill SSSL’s slots at the national and regional scholarly meetings, and no less interest in the next conference. As Houston Baker and Dana Nelson told us more than a decade ago, “there is no better actual or scholarly geography” (and I would add: never has been) to do what we do. We shouldn’t forget that or take it for granted.
To remain current and continue receiving SSSL updates, please renew your membership. Send this membership form to Kathryn McKee with a check for $20 for tenured and tenure-track faculty or $10 for instructors, graduate students, or retired faculty.
If your address has changed, please update Kathryn McKee at email@example.com.
C. Hugh Holman Award
Chris Metress is Professor of English and Director of the University Fellows Program at Samford University, and this year he was chair of the C. Hugh Holman Award selection committee.
Among this year’s many fine contributions to Southern studies, Philip Weinstein’s Becoming Faulkner stands out as a masterful reinterpretation of the life and work of Yoknapatawhpa’s sole proprietor. Drawn to the “kindred turbulence” of the great writer’s “ordinarily troubled life” and his “extraordinarily troubling work,” Weinstein argues that Faulkner became Faulkner when he discovered that there was “something intrinsically mendacious about narrative’s treatment of time.” Because his own life was marked by repeated stumblings that led more toward bafflement than enlightenment—causing him to circle back time and again toward unbecoming failure rather than progressive becoming—Faulkner developed a new approach to narrative, one that rejected familiar sequencing, resisted manageability, and denied retrospective understanding in favor of torturous uncertainty. In this way, Faulkner’s life and work “reveal an individual incoherently aggregated in time,” struggling for a consolation of meaning that never quite arrives.
In addition to offering us a new way to understand Faulkner’s achievement, Weinstein also challenges us to rethink our traditional expectations of literary biography. In a series of chapters that both acknowledge and resist chronological progression, Weinstein writes Faulkner’s life in a way that emphasizes an erratic movement through time. For instance, although each chapter begins at a clear “moment of sudden or cumulative stress” in Faulkner’s life, those chapters begin, respectively, in 1927, 1918, 1956, 1937, and 1951. Moreover, within these chapters Weinstein moves backward and forward though Faulkner’s life and work to explore the dynamics of each moment of stress. This technique enables Weinstein to circle around his subject, probing it from different moments in time, and thereby capturing in the telling of his tale the experience that Faulkner and his protagonists undergo as they too seek to compose a meaningful life story without faith in conventional narrative patterns. It is, in many ways, the perfect way to tell the story of Faulkner’s life and art, and although Weinstein confesses in his introduction that “I do not delude myself that Faulkner would have welcomed this book,” one suspects otherwise. And even if the fiercely private Faulkner would not have welcomed such a deep study of his personal life, he would most certainly have admired the insight and artistry of Becoming Faulkner.
Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Prize
Next year, SSSL will award the Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Prize for best article on southern literature published by a society member in a peer-reviewed journal. The prize honors the legacy of Dr. Rubin, who founded the society, established the Southern Literary Journal and the southern literary series from LSU Press, and started the careers of many writers and critics.
Essays listed in the recent publications section of the newsletter during a given calendar year will be eligible for consideration. The inaugural award will be presented at the American Literature Association conference in 2013.
Southern Film and Media Cultures
Sharon Monteith is Professor of American Studies at the University of Nottingham. Working in interdisciplinary southern studies, she has published books on contemporary fiction—Advancing Sisterhood?: Interracial Friendships in Contemporary Southern Fiction and South To a New Place: Region, Literature, Culture, edited with Suzanne Jones—and on cultural history—Gender and the Civil Rights Movement and American Culture in the 1960s. She co-authored and edited Film Histories, and co-edited the Media volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Her essays on southern film appear in a number of collections and she is currently completing a study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and its literary and film cultures. In a new “worldly” southern studies, recognition of media cultural flows deepens as well as broadens the scope of our work. As Fred Hobson once put it, “’place’ becomes ‘space’ as ‘South’ goes far beyond the borders of the old Dixie” and the Virtual South as it “exists” in cyberspace is changing the ways in which we think about the region, an idea that is both underlined and excavated by Scott Romine in The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction (2008), a book which drills down into some of the region’s alternative realities and simulations.
As early as 1985, in Myth, Media and the Southern Mind, Stephen A. Smith argued that new media forms were beginning to alter southern mythologies. When The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture was published in 1989 it was as a single volume, and C. Vann Woodward closed his review of it by suggesting “future revision or supplement to keep up with ongoing scholarship.” Southern film and media were a small component of the original award-winning project. Since then scholars of film, television, and news media have developed a more complex constellation of approaches to historical research—not only involving audiences and marketing, distribution and reception, but also digital and ephemeral media. New digital technologies are changing the ways in which we understand media cultures and have impacted the ways in which the South is represented. As co-editors of the Media volume of the The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (2011), Allison Graham and I were very aware that investigating regionally-defined representations within a global mediascape would include new digital media.
New media technologies were crucial, for example, in tracing the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Digital storytelling on YouTube and in blogs forged connections through digital communities and operated as a lifeline for some (www.hurricanekatrina.org), and oral history projects at http://www.nola.com/katrina/ and http://www.aliveintruth.org/, as well as the media-facing I-10 Witness Project, emphasized sound and video as vital in keeping the city’s story in the news. Residents and former residents created visual narratives to expose, document, and publicize their experiences, and film and television representations of the catastrophe have inevitably been measured against these. Nahem Yousaf has explored why many local viewers felt that FOX TV’s K-ville failed to take the pulse of New Orleans after the storm. And building on Michael Crutcher Jr.’s cultural history Treme: Race and Place in a New Orleans Neighborhood (2010), critics are beginning to examine why David Simon’s TV series Treme seems to have succeeded so well in that regard. The city’s renewal projects as they affect those traditionally African American areas of the city that have not yet “come back” cannot be fully understood or acknowledged without recourse to the multi-media record that is still building, in documentary and fictional forms, as in the footage shot by Kimberly Rivers Roberts on her Hi8 camcorderin Trouble the Water (2008) and Brian Nelson’s award-winning fictional short Keeper of the Flame (2011).
Surveying and analyzing southern film and media in the Encyclopedia, Allison and I tried to extend coverage of the “old” while endeavoring to keep up with the “new.” At some 450 pages, the volume could be neither exhaustive nor up-to-date—we appealed for double the manuscript length to even approach that aim!—but if “encyclopedic” knowledge of southern media spaces is only a pipedream, the media and internet spaces in which the South is also constituted opens up new paths of enquiry. Multimedia sites dedicated to the South are increasing in number. Southern Spaces at www.southernspaces.org is an open access gateway that publishes video-essays and podcasts, and streams performances and films, with Sarah Toton and Katherine Skinner’s case study piloting its use demonstrating the creative interventions that online media content can facilitate in the classroom (http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no3/toton.htm). One of the most useful sites is Robert Allen’s, “Going to the Show” which showcases the history of silent-era film in North Carolina from 1896 and opens a window on period film audiences , creating a “map” in the form of a digital resource that is revealing of the ways in which race “conditioned the experience of moviegoing for all North Carolinians- white, African American, and American Indian” (www.docsouth.unc.edu/gtts). For the film historian it is a marvellous database, collating inventories from African American movie theaters that operated in the state until the early 1960s, its searchable archive a storehouse of epiphenomena: newspaper ads, photographs, postcards, and more. Cultural archaeology like this extends scholarship by film historians, as exemplified by Greg Waller‘s Main Street Amusements: Movies and Commercial Entertainment in a Southern City, 1896-1930 (1995), Janna Jones’s Southern Movie Palace: Rise, Fall, and Resurrection (2003) and Matthew Bernstein’s work on Atlanta filmgoing, insofar as multimedia technologies offer different analytical possibilities for researchers.
This not to suggest that traditional archival work does not continue—and continue to matter very much—but that the digitization and preservation of archives and the availability of data in more accessible forms change the ways in which we engage in recovery research. For example, it had been noted anecdotally in historical studies that director Otto Preminger asked Martin Luther King Jr. to play a Georgia senator in Advise and Consent (1962) but with no further details. Only perusal of the financial records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (thanks to my colleague Peter Ling’s project amassing data on social capital in the civil rights movement) together with the SCLC Papers, revealed that the offer was $5000, that the administrative committee voted unanimously in favor, and that the agreement was that Dr. King and three colleagues could preview the picture but that “if it is thought to be too reactionary and damaging to Dr. King’s image, then Dr. King will be eliminated from the picture.” King did not fly to California for the day it would have taken him to film his part so, unlike Muhammad Ali who in 1979 agreed to play a South Carolina senator during the Reconstruction era in the adaptation of Howard Fast’s Freedom Road, he never acted on screen. Ali’s star status and role as the film’s protagonist ensured that while Freedom Road dramatized the struggle of the Black Convention in Charleston South Carolina in 1865, it would simultaneously recall the African American freedom struggles of the 1960s. Dr King’s cameo role would have changed not only the movie (he would have appeared alongside Charles Laughton playing a senator who is a composite picture of Strom Thurmond and John C. Stennis), and Hollywood’s contribution to representing the southern freedom movement, but would have also provided a fascinating screen template different from extant news and documentary footage. There is room to explore how notoriously controversial TV and film versions of Southern icons are; while Abby Mann’s TV miniseries King provoked a barrage of complaints from members of the SCLC in 1978, in 2001 Boycott! won an NAACP Image Award. The Steven Spielberg-produced biopic of Martin Luther King Jr. is in still in pre-production planning but, if released, promises to be a springboard for much reviewing and new scholarship.
Scholars continue to uncover details in surprising places, but some of the digging and delving is made easier by electronic archives, and as more examples are becoming available on the internet, recovery of press books and publicity material used by newspapers and radio augments the historical and mass media context in which southern film may be understood. There remain many unexplored avenues in southern cinema; it is a neglected fact of film history that north Florida was the primary location for the making of silent cinema in the early twentieth century, as Angela Hague uncovers in her essay for the Media volume of The New Encyclopedia, examining Norman Studios in Jacksonville and following the restoration work that is turning it into a Silent Film Museum (http://www.normanstudios.org). There is scope to augment work in audience studies and fandom, with Helen Taylor’s Scarlett’s Women: Gone with the Wind and its Female Fans (1989) a rare example of such work on the region, though Tara McPherson’s work on film, television and popular culture includes study of TV audiences. The subgenre of the southern miniseries which McPherson discusses too still merits further exploration, not only for its female fans but also for the strategies that have secured its success over the decades. Similarly with the TV movie since it is often the place that southern “issues” are explored. Fandom might also be traced via those small museums dedicated to the region’s stars— from the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum in Jupiter, Florida, to the Gone with the Wind Museum in Marietta, Georgia (http://www.gwtwmarietta.com/).
Field work on film production and location begs investigation and film commissions, like Georgia’s established by Jimmy Carter in 1973 following Deliverance, are the first stop for such research. When first writing about A Time To Kill, for example, I wanted to explore what happened when a Hollywood movie came to a southern town, following Willie Morris’s fine work The Ghosts of Medgar Evers: A Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and Hollywood (1998) with its on-set examination of Ghost of Mississippi (1996) filmed around Port Gibson. Some 600 locals became extras in 1995-6 when Joel Schumacher adapted John Grisham’s novel and his imaginary town of Clanton was recreated in Canton, Mississippi. Then, only a visit to Canton furnished the detail. Now the virtual sites of Canton Film Office and movie museum (http://www.cantontourism.com/film.html) facilitate such research in its preliminary stages. And almost every state and many cities have a film commission with contacts on line (e.g. http://www.wilmingtonfilm.com/ , http://www.filmsc.com , http://www.filmneworleans.org/, and http://www.filmmemphis.org/). These are e-gateways for filmmakers scouting southern locations and resources for film and media scholarship.
The southern movie industry is a multi-million dollar enterprise. In 2002 Jenny Henderson compiled a filmography of movies made in North Carolina, the nation’s third largest center for film and television production, and Jean Nance focused on Wilmington in 2000, but there are opportunities for scholarship on each state’s film cultures, on directors and producers, and on the visual rhetorics of the South via directors of photography, like neglected Burnett Guffey. As well as the relationship of state economies, Chambers of Commerce and town planners to the industry, as indicated by the 2007 report following the Southern Legislative conference on attracting movie business to the region at http://www.slcatlanta.org/Publications/EconDev/LightsCameraAction.pdf There is a need to examine the film festivals staged across the region and their impact, all contributories that flow towards a deeper understanding of the southern film industry.
The best kind of scholarship, it still seems to me, helps us to see things we believe are utterly familiar (Elvis Presley or To Kill A Mockingbird) in new and interesting ways. Eric Sundquist’s “Blues for Atticus Finch: Scottsboro, Brown, and Harper Lee” (1995) remains a masterclass in historical film scholarship, and Edwin T. Arnold’s “What the Movies Told Us” (1996) is a beautifully written disquisition on nostalgia and its critique. Scholarship on southern cinema has shifted a long way from debates over what constituted a “southern” and whether it could be considered a genre like the western, and while exposing deleterious stereotypes are a perennial problem in Hollywood’s depiction of the South, there are strong critical foundations on which to build. Thomas Cripps painstaking archival work over a number of decades is required reading for any researcher of cinema and the South. While Cripps, the late James Snead, Ed Guerrero, and others have explored the ways in which black southerners have been represented in film, and Jack Temple Kirby in Media-Made Dixie (1986) and J. W. Williamson in Hillbillyland (1995) exposed some of the more pernicious stereotypes of the white South, Allison Graham’s tour de force Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race During the Civil Rights Struggle (2001) was the first cultural history to locate both blacks and whites in post-World War II cinema. This entertaining scholarly work revealed how the “hick” often shadowed the “hip” in popular representations; the “anarchic physicality” of the so-called redneck; the centrality of the “cracker” to our understanding of American racism; and how stereotypes become archetypes, like the corrupt southern lawman and the redemptive southern lawyer. Meanwhile, Tara McPherson’s 2003 study Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined Southwent on toadvance the idea of a “lenticular logic” as a lens through which to explore race on film and in popular culture.
Essays on southern film appear in collections including Refiguring American Film Genres (1998), Memory and Popular Film (2001), Keyframes: Popular Cinema and Cultural Studies (2001), and Going to the Movies: Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema (2007), as well as works in which the region’s import is already signalled by title, such as Media, Culture and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle (2001), Poverty and Progress in the U.S. South (2006), and Transatlantic Exchanges: The South in Europe and Europe in the American South (2007). But only Warren French published a collection that directly addressed the issue of The South and Film (1981), and Deborah Barker and Katie McKee’s essay collection American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary (2011) is the first dedicated to southern film criticism since Warren’s. Studies by documentary practitioners and “visual anthropologists” did break ground in the intervening years, as in Karl G. Heider’s Images of the South: Constructing a Regional Culture on Film and Video (1993), but this curious impasse during which we failed to showcase the range of work-in-progress by film and media scholars was only remedied recently. Other new collections include Andrew Leiter’s Southerners on Film: Essays on Hollywood Portrayals Since the 1970s (2011) which, despite what its title implies, focuses on a number of independent projects including Sleep With Anger and Junebug and popular cinema like Remember the Titans, rather than only Hollywood’s “southern” staples. While Bruce Brasell examines southern independent cinema and documentary over a number of essays, as do others, the sheer volume and diversity of such films begs further examination.
There is a body of work on D.W. Griffith and especially his most controversial film Birth of a Nation (1915), developing in tandem with books on African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux . While scholarship on Faulkner and Tennessee Williams has inevitably involved study of film adaptations, and mass media have been primary sources for cultural historians (Brian Ward’s Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South  and Riché Richardson’s Black Masculinity and the U.S South ), a number of literary scholars are now beginning to turn to southern cinema. Peter Lurie’s 2004 study of Faulkner, Vision’s Immanence: Faulkner, Film, and the Popular Imagination, signalled a shift by showing how critical theory illuminates literary modernism’s relationship to mass cultural forms. Sarah Gleeson White’s burgeoning interest in screenwriting and literary culture in the first half of the twentieth century sees her editing a volume of Faulkner’s screenplays at Twentieth Century-Fox and contributing an essay on southern writers who wrote in and about Hollywood to The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the U.S. South (forthcoming). Members of SSSL have published widely on individual films: Leigh Ann Duck, Jay Watson, David A. Davis, Melanie Benson and many more; and now The Help is sparking debate and was the subject of a panel at SSSL 2012 in Nashville.
Southern media culture in the age of the “New Southern Studies” involves rethinking of ideas of region and nation, borders and boundaries as we acknowledge that “place” is also virtual “space.” It literally involves seeing movies and TV differently, as Memphis director Craig Brewer showed when he ensured his 2009 MTV music series was screened first on the Internet so that it could be viewed on ipods and iphones. And while I for one still intend to travel to film commissions and movie locations on the civil rights cinema beat, from my home in the UK I can also sit at my desk and explore the many media gateways into the region.
Digital Southern Humanities: An Interview with Allen Tullos and Scott Nesbit
Allen Tullos is Senior Editor of Southern Spaces and Associate Professor in the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University. He is the author of Habits of Industry: White Culture and the Transformation of the Carolina Peidmont and Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary in the Heart of Dixie.
Scott Nesbit is the Associate Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond and a PhD candidate in History at the University of Virginia. His work has appeared in the Journal of the Civil War Era and Southern Spaces, and his digital projects include the recently released Visualizing Emancipation.
SSSL: What is your work in digital scholarship? Do you also work in traditional scholarship? Do the formats influence each other?
Allen Tullos: As the senior editor of Southern Spaces published by the Emory University Libraries, I work with a team of graduate students to produce a peer-reviewed, open access, Internet journal. Southern Spaces publishes multi-media essays and video presentations, scholarly reviews and short articles, as well as stand-alone videos about real and imagined spaces and places of the U.S. South and their global connections. The journal also serves as an ongoing workshop for training graduate students in digital scholarship and publication. Students learn a variety of skills including design and layout work, video production, consulting with writers and media producers about the making of digital essays and the creation of born-digital archives.
I also work in formats of traditional scholarship. My most recent book is Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2011). Alabama Getaway consists of words on paper (although available as an e-book) without hyperlinks and illustrations.
Scott Nesbit: I have been thinking about the ways that southerners imagined and brought into being new spaces, especially in the nineteenth century. Some of this work has coalesced in argument-driven projects, and other works, especially in the digital realm, are projects that imply interpretive stances through their organization and design decisions but refrain (so far) from making explicit historiographical or literary claims.
At the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), I’ve worked on digital projects ranging from online recreations of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps of the 1930s to three dimensional representations of Richmond’s slave market district and a mapping project, “Visualizing Emancipation,” showing where and how slavery fell apart in the Civil War South. I call these projects “digital” because there are interactive aspects to each that impede an easy translation into print.
This seems to me to be one characteristic distinguishing digital from traditional scholarship, the ability to be represented accurately on a printed page. My traditional work often, but not always, feeds off digital work. I wrote an essay with Ed Ayers for the Journal of the Civil War Era on geographic scale and emancipation as we were thinking through methodological issues of our project “Visualizing Emancipation.” My essay in Southern Spaces has an interactive, digital companion application, but it is otherwise a very traditional piece of writing.
Other essays I’ve written have had no relation to the digital realm at all, though they will be superficially digital too, insofar as all our work is now accessed on computers and stored in databases. The fact that all our work is in this small way digital points to a simple but important point: what seems like a bright line dividing recognizable digital from non-digital work is also a rhetorical and tactical device at play in how we evaluate scholarship.
SSSL: Does digital scholarship have advantages over traditional scholarship?
Allen Tullos: For much research and publication in the humanities, digital scholarship offers great advantages over conventional print. Scholarly digital formats can deploy a full range of media materials (video, audio, maps, imagery), including displays of interactive data, that are essential components of scholarly work. For example, digital journals have the capacity to present vast numbers of photographs (or audio clips) to accompany an essay, something a print journal or even an encyclopedia would find daunting. Indeed, print encyclopedias seem especially vulnerable to being replaced by digital counterparts that can archive much more material and be more quickly revised and updated. For much scholarship in the humanities, the digital is now the best format and younger scholars, especially, are comfortable creating born-digital, long-form essays. Much print-based scholarship already appears incomplete and outmoded when compared with the more adaptable and fluidly digital. Which comes last, the dinosaur or the dinosaur’s egg? Digital scholarship also results in new genres of publication, such as essays which combine the productions of digital video documentarians with text written by sociologists or historians.
Scott Nesbit: While I agree with Allen that we will see reference works and a great many other sources transition to a digital-native or digital-only medium, the printed page remains an unparalleled technology for presenting most narratives and arguments, if only because scholars collectively have a great deal of practice with this medium.
I can imagine some arguments, though, whose finest expression takes advantage of digital methods or media. A database of thousands or even millions of texts allows for new modes of analysis. We are still in early stages of this work, but it isn’t hard to imagine new, persuasive interpretations coming out of a combination of close and distant readings. Likewise, it isn’t too hard to imagine arguments crafted with all the care of our best essays but which take advantage of the disruptions and connections possible within digital media.
SSSL: Many scholars have concerns about digital scholarship. Some of the most common ones are worries that digital scholarship will not be measured equally in tenure and evaluation processes, that digital scholarship may be ephemeral, and that digital scholarship appeals to a less scholarly audience. Can you dispel these concerns?
Allen Tullos: We are moving to a time when “digital scholarship” will become simply “scholarship” and the resistant institutional inertias and reservations should recede. This is happening in some fields and institutions more quickly than others. Scholarly peer review can work just as effectively (and usually more speedily) for digital materials. Editorial boards and editorial reviewers can function largely as they currently do. Finding ways to award credit for digital scholarship as a collaborative enterprise between scholars and technologists is as important as pressing the cases for scholarly tenure and promotion based on digital work. Institutional libraries and university archives are working on the best practices for sustaining and storing digital scholarly publications and archives for the long haul.
Scott Nesbit: Many of the best scholarly works online have been collaborative projects building archives for the academy and wider public. These projects make sources for the liberal arts available to everyone, so I see any appeal they have in broadening engagement in the humanities as a valuable contribution to the disciplines. Much of this work comes from scholars holding #alt-ac (alternative academic) positions, as Bethany Nowviskie has called them, and I see a tremendous amount of fruitful humanities work coming from outside traditional positions in departments.
Anxiety over what counts for evaluation arises most acutely from the difficulty in submitting for peer review scholarship that carries interpretive interventions but which cannot be printed on a page. Because few journals have committed to maintaining carefully crafted humanities databases or user interfaces, critical digital scholarship has met very high barriers to publication in the most prestigious traditional venues. With few opportunities to publish digital work under peer review, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to create projects explicitly stating the most significant scholarly interpretations about specific literary texts or historical processes. We can hope that as the most prominent humanities journals develop procedures for evaluating digital scholarship—the American Historical Review has made some progress on this front, following the lead of innovative publications like Southern Spaces—we will see all kinds of digital scholarship flourishing, projects whose primary audience is quite broad and those making specific interventions in historical and literary studies.
All scholarship is ephemeral absent the sustaining work of archivists. Digital scholarship presents particular challenges to archival work since hard drives degrade much faster than paper. But these are not questions that should restrain us from finding and expressing new insights in digital media. So I see questions about the maintenance of digital scholarship as an important point of collaboration between scholars and archivists. These questions can very quickly, though, become red herrings distracting us from the intellectual contributions of digital work.
SSSL: What skill set would a humanist need to develop to create digital scholarship?
Allen Tullos: Humanities scholars still need to begin with the critical questions and curiosity that always prompts their work and motivates their efforts. Much more than in traditional humanities scholarship, however, digital publication depends upon collaboration. Universities are creating spaces in which scholars consult and collaborate with digital librarians, data architects, and technologists skilled in a range of practices from GIS mapping to web page design to video editing. Some digital humanists sift vast quantities of data for previously unknown patterns, others like to produce unique creations, still others use digital platforms to present critical analysis of old and new expressive forms.
Over a decade ago, I began working on digital projects at Emory as a result of a summer program which paired professors and grad students to develop websites, digital archives, and syllabi. It’s important that institutions offer incentives and training that will encourage scholars and students to investigate how digital approaches will enhance their work.
Scott Nesbit: The literary theorist Stephen Ramsey has suggested that digital scholarship is marked by the practice of building, and Allen’s experience and my own seem to bear that out. One way of building scholarly projects, the deep encoding of literary texts, is a skill that shares a great deal with the close readings that humanists already practice. I came to digital scholarship by working with geographic information systems (GIS), which produce a tension with humanistic understandings of the production of space that I find useful. These skills and those, like programming, with slightly steeper learning curves provide the basis for many scholars’ engagement with digital tools and texts.
Even without these skills, there is much to be said for understanding the database as a genre, as Ed Folsom has argued, or for understanding new media forms of the web and video games—even satiric interventions into the southern past, such as Slavery: The Game—as literary texts. This would be a point of confluence between those who consider their work as digital scholarship and those who identify themselves as working within new media studies.
SSSL: What are the pedagogical possibilities of digital scholarship?
Allen Tullos: Working on collaborative digital projects is its own pedagogy. At Southern Spaces, our graduate student editorial staff passes along its collective knowledge to successive groups of incoming students. The Woodruff Libraries and Emory’s educational technology group offer workshops and hands-on training. We have also begun a graduate certificate program in digital scholarship and media studies for students in any department en route to their PhD. Students who finish graduate school with their dissertations as well as digital publishing experience are doing very well in the current job market.
Scott Nesbit: Digital media, at their best, encourage students to write clearly and persuasively about historical texts. Freely available digital archives have been a tremendous boon to classrooms. Digital tools can also help students think about their representation of these texts in new ways. One of our projects at the DSL, the History Engine, places short episodes written by students at universities and colleges across North America in relation to one another in time and space, and in doing so creates fruitful juxtapositions and disjunctures. We have worked with literary scholar Suzanne Jones to help students think about the placement of trans-Atlantic literary lives within urban landscapes. So I see the digital environment as tool that helps us do the things we’ve always done: helping students engage with complex texts and in that engagement finding and communicating new meanings.
What Allen mentioned about digital projects being unavoidably collaborative is an important point. When working with digital sources in the classroom or our own research, we become acutely aware that we are working in an asynchronous collaborative environment. We use sources created and digitized by previous scholars and archivists. Our own classroom projects become dependent, through hyperlinking, on these sources. By relying on the good will of strangers, the archivists and humanists who sustain these texts, we are able to learn and pass on to students valuable lessons about effective scholarly communication and digital production.
SSSL: What can digital scholarship offer to southern studies in particular?
Allen Tullos: At Southern Spaces, we believe that our digital, multimedia work enables a critical examination of many souths and southern regions by interrogating historical developments and geographies over time, mapping expressive cultural forms associated with place, and making comparative connections with other places on the planet. Digital scholarship helps us present both the particularity and historicity of place as well as vividly evoke spatial imaginaries. For instance, our “Poets in Place” series (produced in collaboration with Natasha Trethewey) produces videos of poets reading and discussing their work on location, in the places that they write about. “Poets in Place” makes tangible particular locales and biographical experiences in these places, while challenging the received and mystifying power of a “South” that still remains too captured by a sectional imaginary. A multi-media essay such as Matt Miller’s “The Dirty South” captures the moment in which an insurgent hip-hop spatial imaginary challenged taken-for-granted definitions of racial propriety and southernness.
Scott Nesbit: It is an exciting time to be involved in digital scholarship and southern studies, because the interplay between these two modes of study has been so robust. Two of the most significant and innovative digital archives in the humanities, the DocSouth project at the University of North Carolina and the Valley of the Shadow, are tightly focused around southern sources. As Allen pointed out, Southern Spaces has been a tremendous venue for thinking in expanded ways about the forms scholarship on the U.S. South might take. It has encouraged a number of scholars to see that some of the most important questions animating southern studies—questions of the geographic extent of the South and how literature, culture and the built environment work together to produce southern places—especially lend themselves to digital exploration.
The Field and the Swamp, or, What I Learned in Nashville
Sydney Bufkin is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Texas at Austin working on a dissertation about the reception of the turn-of-the-century purpose novel in American literature. She blogs sporadically about writing, technology, and reception study at moretowrite.wordpress.com.
The trip to SSSL started with the mystery of the lead shot. I’d flown home to Atlanta from Texas and borrowed my mother’s car to make the drive to Nashville. Thursday morning, I went to put my bag in the car and found twenty-five pounds of lead shot in the trunk. No shotgun, mind you, just the shot. When I got to Nashville, I learned that there was a corollary to my experience. Driving up from Mercer, Sarah Gardner and David Davis had stopped at a barbecue place called Hillbilly Willy’s. Waiting in line, they’d been somewhat unsettled to discover that the man behind them gave the proprietor a bag full of bullets, perhaps in payment for his barbecue. I resolved to stop at Hillbilly Willy’s on the way back and see if I could trade the lead shot for some barbecue of my own, although I was unsure of the exchange rate among lead shot, bullets, and barbeque. I never did find out what the shot was doing in my mother’s trunk.
Truth be told, I hadn’t expected to be making the trek to SSSL in the first place—lead shot, barbeque, or no. While I’d majored in English and southern studies as an undergrad at UNC, my graduate work has focused on African American literature, nineteenth-century American reform writing, and the realist novel. So when Jeremy Wells and Sarah Gardner asked me to be part of their panel, my first response was, “That’s not my field.” They very generously promised not to hold that against me.
Still, it was with a bit of trepidation that I arrived in Nashville, unsure what I had to offer a gathering of southernists beyond my own scattered thoughts on Charles Chesnutt in the South and beyond. What I discovered, though, was how much southern studies has to offer me. Anthony Szczesiul’s work on hospitality in the Reconstruction South has me rightfully wary of the term “southern hospitality,” but I certainly enjoyed the hospitality of southernists, who made me feel welcome at every panel, keynote, and meal.
In addition, I came away with the impression that, if I didn’t always think of my work in relation to studies of the South anymore, perhaps I should. Friday’s roundtable on “Institutional Southernism” was a wonderful introduction to the dynamic, contentious, and wide-ranging field of interests and approaches to the new southern studies, post-southern studies, and what Martyn Bone termed the “sub-post-southern persistence of southern.” I was fairly persuaded by Jon Smith’s claim that “the cutting edge of American studies is in this room,” but I’m not quite as willing to concede to his argument that the post-seventies southern experience can be defined by McDonald’s, Sesame Street, and REM. With all due respect to Jon, my formative musical years were defined by OutKast and Goodie Mob—I can only name about three REM songs—and though there was a lively discussion about the degree to which the South might be considered a representative national space, I would have liked to have heard more about the ways the increasingly urban, increasingly (or, according to census data, returning-ly) African American South challenges some of those assumptions.
The other main strain of the institutional southernism discussion focused on the institutional structures of the academy. It was particularly refreshing to hear Lisa Hinrichsen’s clear-eyed assessment of the job market and the state of academe, which for me is a constant and very real consideration in everything I do. Examining the state of the field in conjunction with the state of the university provided a number of pragmatic considerations, but it also gave me a useful lens for thinking about southern literary history that takes into account changing institutional pressures.
Having spent the entirety of my post-secondary career either inside of or adjacent to the South (depending on how you come down to the Texas question), my perspective on the South has always been a bit skewed by, well, living there. So I was especially interested in Martyn Bone’s and Michael Bibler’s accounts of what it means to study the US South from outside of the United States, as well as Thursday’s panel on international directors’ approaches to the South. Michael’s description of the international view of the South as a place where much of the messiness of American identity is a bit more out in the open struck me as both apt and useful. That description gained even more nuance when set against the international film panel’s discussion of Lars von Trier’s and Peter Hillcoat’s use of southern stories to stand in for universal themes. The panel, along with the conversations that followed, opened up interesting questions about how to triangulate the director’s national position, the uses of the South in film, and (at least in Hillcoat’s case) Hollywood pressures to market the film to national and international audiences.
In addition to urging me to think about the broader field of American studies in relation to the South, the conference also offered up some good models of what that might look like in practice. Foremost was Barbara Ladd’s compelling work on class and the upper South, which challenges regional boundaries even as it encourages us to pay more attention to the mobility of poor white southerners, as well as to the fascinating role of the swamp in literature and history. While the focus of the talk was on the Great Dismal Swamp, I found myself thinking about the swamp more generally, and the way the swamp as a site of analysis might provide a very different geographic and environmental view of the South. The swamp even made an appearance the next day, when Lisa Hinrichsen reminded us that it functions as a cultural touchpoint that, in the form of “Swamp People,” often brings students into the southern lit classroom.
As someone who works primarily in the nineteenth century, I’d been a bit unsure of what I would find that spoke immediately to my work, but this year’s program had a number of offerings for scholars of the nineteenth century. The panel on Confederate literature at 150 convinced me that I need to pay more attention to the Confederacy in my own attempts to understand the shape of American literary nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century, and beyond that, I was delighted to find in that panel one of the few really convincing uses of data mining and topic modeling that I’ve seen in literary studies. Robert Nelson’s work on patriotism and journalism during the Civil War made use of a large body of data in ways that clearly added an important analytic framework to the conversation. His conclusions about the relationship between thematic and formal content in the Richmond Dispatch would not have been possible without the use of topic modeling algorithms, and it was exciting to see that technology taken in such a productive direction (for more on that work, see “Mining the Dispatch,” http://dsl.richmond.edu/dispatch/).
Back in Austin, I’m still meditating on Michael Bibler’s suggestion that southern studies might be considered a variation of period studies—what Michael called “my particular version of American studies.” I came away from the conference with a variety of models and approaches that I can apply to my own version of American studies. As I return to a dissertation chapter on Frank Norris’s The Octopus and begin to sort through the ways Norris is positioning the West as the ideal space for the Great American Novel, I’m finding that the models southern studies offers for understanding the relationships between region, nation, and national literature provide a generative starting place for thinking about those issues in other contexts. I’m looking forward to discovering all the other ways I can apply what I learned in Nashville to my version of American studies.
SSSL Panels at ALA
Southern Necrologies I
Organized by The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Friday, May 25, 2012, 9:40 – 11 AM
Chair: Eric Gary Anderson, George Mason University
1. “Celebrating the Quick and the Dead: The Gothic Short Stories of Faulkner and Caldwell as a Southern Danse Macabre,” Elsa Charléty, Sorbonne University
2. “To Be a True Historian, You Have to Mourn Amply and Well: Mapping Swamplandia!’s Geography of Death, Development, and Disaster,” Anthony Dyer Hoefer, George Mason University
3. “Of Commerce and Corpses: Cormac McCarthy and the Necro-Logic of Late Capitalism,” Joshua Lundy, University of Mississippi
4. “Now the Dead Sit Up with Us: The South, the American Way of Death, and Zombies,” Jay Ingrao, University of Texas
Southern Necrologies II
Organized by The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Friday, May 25, 2012, 11:10 AM – 1:30 PM
Chair: Eric Gary Anderson, George Mason University
1. “When Death is a Joke: Sherwood Bonner’s Dialect Tales,” Kathryn B. McKee, University of Mississippi
2. “Buried Beneath the Old Oak Tree: Yellow Fever, Quarantine, and New Orleans’s Trade Economy in George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes,” Heather Chacón, University of Kentucky
3. “Mourning Change: Go Down, Moses and the Performative Funeral,” Elizabeth Fielder, University of Mississippi
4. “Funeral Rites, Ancestor Spirits, and Female Healers in LeAnne Howe’s Novels,” Kirstin L. Squint, High Point University
Urban Landscapes in Southern Literature I Organized by The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Thursday, May 24, 2012, 3 – 4:20 PM
Chair: Tara Powell, University of South Carolina
1. “Downsouth, Upsouth, and the Crossroads of America in John Oliver Killens’ Youngblood,” Martyn Bone, University of Mississippi
2. “Structure in Crisis: Lewis Mumford’s The South in Architecture, World War II, and the Problem of Modern Form,” Robert Jackson, University of Tulsa
3. “Southern Circles: Light in August and ‘The Artificial Nigger,’” Sura Rath, University of North Texas at Dallas
4. “Requiem’s Ruins: Unmaking and Making in Cold War Faulkner,” Spencer Morrison, University of Toronto
Urban Landscapes in Southern Literature II Organized by The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Thursday, May 24, 2012, 4:30 – 5:50 PM
Chair: Tara Powell, University of South Carolina
1. “‘Same Damn Corners’: Alternative Education in Baltimore from Frederick Douglass to The Wire,” Ted Atkinson, Mississippi State University
2. “Chris Wiltz’s Glass House: The Urban Spaces and Racial Enclaves of Contemporary New Orleans,” Suzanne W. Jones, University of Richmond
3. “Cormac McCarthy’s Vanishing Urban Wilderness: Knoxville and McAnally Flats,” William Moss, Wake Forest University
4. “Faulkner’s Memphis: The Big City in Sanctuary and The Reivers,” J. Christopher O’Brien, University of Mississippi
Calls for Papers
Southern American Studies Association
Charleston’s historic Francis Marion Hotel, around the corner from the lovely College of Charleston campus and facing Marion Square (and a stone’s throw from the fortress that S.C. built in response to the revolting Denmark Vesey) will be the site of the next SASA conference, next January 31-February 2. As the American Studies Association’s southern-regional chapter, SASA—like the SSSL—meets biennially and includes folks from all over.
In marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we’ve chosen as our theme “We All Declare For Liberty,” drawing on a statement by President Lincoln. SASA’s conferences tend to announce a very broad, sometimes catchy title or theme, as in “Peoples, Publics and Places of the SouthS,” last year at Georgia State; “Beginnings and Renewals: Locating American Studies,” two years earlier at the George Mason campus; “Blues Tunes / Blues Texts: Music, Cultures, and Literature in the Global South,” at Ole Miss, literally a joint meeting in 2007 with the fifth annual Living Blues Symposium (and in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture); “Regionalisms in this Age of Globalization,” as far back as 2003, at Florida State.
Every two years we also welcome papers on other topics that reflect the rich, interdisciplinary range and breadth of contexts that is American Studies. The CFP is on view via SASA’s Facebook page as well as http://www.english.fsu.edu/library/dmoore/CFP_for_2013_SASA.pdf. Scott Peeples, at the College of Charleston, and I are co-chairing the committee organizing the conference, and our colleagues include historian Heather Williams, UNC-Chapel Hill; Tom Heeney and Carter Hudgins of the College of Charleston (Carter directs the CofC’s joint program with Clemson University on historic preservation, and Tom leads the CofC’s American Studies efforts), as well as the two tireless folks who’ve hosted the past two SASA conferences: Eric Gary Anderson, SASA’s immediate past president, and Christine Skwiot, now our v.p.
Taking a peek at our list of recent presidents serves as a reminder of how much attention SASA pays to southern studies: Annette Trefzer, for example, hosted in 2007 and John Lowe in 2005.
Well, SASA is where those two powerful memes, “Southern” and “American Studies,” meet: while our name begins with “Southern,” “American Studies” is our middle name: Is the South a microcosm of the U.S.? Is the U.S. simply (simply?) the South writ large? SASA’s quite the venue for addressing those questions and, yep, Charleston has long been quite the intersection, quite the crossroads.
Dennis Moore, SASA President, 2011-2013
Ninth Biennial Southern Women Writers Conference, Berry College, September 20-23, 2012
Featured speakers: Dorothy Allison, Stacey Lynn Brown, Marshall Chapman, Melissa Delbridge, Barbara Hamby, Josephine Humphreys, Kathryn McKee, Melody Moezzi, Hermine Pinson, Melanie Sumner, Priscilla Wilson, and Isabel Wilkerson
Since its inception in 1994, the Southern Women Writers Conference has been devoted to showcasing the works of well-known and emerging U.S. southern women writers, expanding the literary canon, and developing critical and theoretical understandings of the tradition of southern women’s writing.
Due to reduced resources, this will be the last SWWC, at least for the foreseeable future. In keeping with this milestone, and with the knowledge that all conclusions constitute new inceptions, our theme for the 2012 conference is “Beginnings and Endings.” Through their writing, southern women past and present have addressed both literal and metaphorical “beginnings’ and “endings” in a variety of ways. The theme certainly conjures up images of births, deaths, and rebirths and the emotions often associated with those images: joy, excitement, sadness, grief, anxiety, hesitancy, a sense of freedom, relief, hope. And while positive feelings are usually associated with beginnings and negative ones with endings, is this always the case? Might endings be celebratory and beginnings sorrowful? To what degree might “newness” spring from passings? We invite critical and creative submissions that explore the full range of the conference theme explored by women in and of the South, including but not limited to:
literary eras and genres
writers’ careers, relationships, projects, and lives
social and political institutions
migrations and diasporas
communities and ecosystems
canonical and non-canonical works of fiction, poetry, autobiography, creative nonfiction, and drama
non-discursive works including film, photography, and other visual or performance arts
Critical Submissions: Please send 300-word abstracts or completed papers that can be read aloud in twenty minutes. If submitting a proposal for a panel, please include the names of participants and abstracts for individual papers. Male scholars are encouraged to participate.
Creative submissions: Please submit creative work (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama), appropriate to the conference’s thematic focus, for a twenty-minute reading. Authors should be women who meet at least one of the following criteria: were born in or grew up in the U.S. South; currently live in the U.S. South; write about the U.S. South.
All submissions should be postmarked no later than Monday, April 30, 2012 and may be sent via e-mail as attachments in MS Word format to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to: Southern Women Writers Conference; Berry College; Box 490350; Mt. Berry, GA 30149. Requests for multi-media equipment should accompany submissions. For more information, visit the conference website at: http://www.berry.edu/academics/humanities/english/swwc/.
Call for Submissions for the 2013 issue of the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR; see www.nclr.ecu.edu)
NCLR’s 2013 issue special feature topic is North Carolina: A State of Change, a Changing State.
As the South slides into the new millennium, the classic themes of southern literature need updating, especially here in North Carolina, where immigration has increased our population dramatically. We’re still concerned about prejudice—but it seems time to consider a new slant and to take into account our Latino immigrants as well. What about increased urbanization? The back-to-land movement in the mountains? The increase in high-tech firms? The tourism on the Outer Banks? is the new “old guard,” and do their roots extend beyond the state borders? Who are the emerging writers that will define our nascent identities? In essence, we’re looking for material that captures the current North Carolina zeitgeist. Submissions for the special feature section of this issue might also include literary analyses of the writing of and interviews with emerging North Carolina writers.
Queries and proposals for the special feature section may be emailed to the editor, Margaret Bauer (BauerM@ecu.edu). Submissions due by August 31, 2012. For formatting manuscripts for submission and online submission instructions, please consult our website: www.nclr.ecu.edu/submissions.
Graduate Assistant Position(s) Available: An Opportunity to Work on the Staff of the Award-Winning North Carolina Literary Review
The North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) is seeking one or two graduate students interested in serving as an editorial assistant for 10-20 hours per week. Any student accepted into an East Carolina University graduate program is eligible to apply for this assistantship. For information about Graduate Studies in English at ECU, go to: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/engl/graduate/index.cfm.
NCLR editorial assistants help with editing the current issue, website development, grant applications, promotional activities, and/or developing a marketing plan. Candidates should have strong writing and proofreading skills and be proficient at using Macintosh computers and Microsoft Word. Desirable additional skills (or interest in learning) include Excel, Indesign (or other desktop publishing program), Open Journal System, web publishing, and grant-writing.
For more information about this award-winning journal, go to: www.nclr.ecu.edu/. Interested students should contact the editor, Margaret Bauer, via email (BauerM@ecu.edu) to request an application and to set up an interview.
LSU Press Southern Literary Series Continues History of Distinguished Editorship
Beginning in fall 2012, Scott Romine, associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will take over editorship of the LSU Press Southern Literary Series. “With his two strong books with LSU Press, and other strong work, Romine is one of the most accomplished scholars (under 45) in the field. He is the best person to carry on the series,” says Fred Hobson, who will step down as editor after a long and impressive run.
The series, founded in 1963 by the legendary Louis D. Rubin, Jr., has published nearly every major scholar in the field. Hobson took the helm in 1993, and more than one-hundred books have appeared under his editorship, including Scott Romine’s The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction and The Narrative Forms of Southern Community. LSU Press has published four of Hobson’s fifteen books, including But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative; Tell About the South: The Southern Rage to Explain; and The Silencing of Emily Mullen and Other Essays.
Hobson calls the series “the most significant series in southern literary studies for the past 40 years.” Its titles have garnered numerous Hugh Holman Awards, given annually by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature for the best book in southern literary studies.
Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature
The Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature honors significant career contribution to southern writing in drama, fiction, or poetry. The prize takes its name from Sidney Lanier, the nineteenth-century southern poet born in Macon who wrote “The Song of the Chattahoochee” and “The Marshes of Glynn.” Using his name recognizes Middle Georgia’s literary heritage and the long, often complicated, tradition of writing about the South. The prize is awarded to writers who have engaged and extended that tradition.
Ernest J. Gaines is the inaugural winner of the Lanier Prize. His works, set primarily in his native Louisiana, tell the stories of southerners living with dignity in the face of adversity. He has published several novels and collections of short stories, including the classics The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), A Gathering of Old Men (1983), and A Lesson Before Dying (1993). He has received a MacArthur Foundation grant and the National Humanities Medal of the United States among many other honors. The Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette fosters scholarship on his work.
The selection committee for the Lanier Prize includes Mercerians, eminent scholars of southern literature, and members of the Macon community. The committee members are James Bodell, President of Macon Arts Alliance; David A. Davis (Chair), Assistant Professor of English at Mercer University; Sarah Gardner, Professor of History at Mercer University; Minrose Gwin, Kenan Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Trudier Harris, Professor of English at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa; Gordon Johnston, Professor of English at Mercer University; Michael Kreyling, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University; Matthew Martin, Knox Professor of Humanities at Wesleyan College; and Pam Thomasson, President of Historic Macon.
SSSL Graduate Student Travel Awards
Five graduate students received travel awards to present at the SSSL conference in Nashville. Two of the travel awards are given in honor of Peggy Prenshaw, two are given in honor of Noel Polk, and one is given in memory of Dorothy Scura. Each student received up to $500.
Katherine Barnsley, University of Sydney, Australia
“The Great Alibi: Robert Penn Warren and the Centenary of the Civil War”
Sydney Bufkin, University of Texas at Austin
“Displacing Sectional Criticism: Reviewers, Imagined Audiences, and The Marrow of Tradition”
Gina Caison, University of California, Davis
“‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’: Tracing the Reading Public of the Cherokee Phoenix across the Antebellum South”
Kristopher Mecholsky, Louisiana State University
“Another Lost Cause: The Rise and Fall of Burt Reynolds as the New Southern Man”
Kim Mulder, Simon Fraser University
“Writing Themselves into Being: Comparative Literary Nationalisms in Canada and the Confederate U.S. South”
Bryan Giemza Wins Virginia Rising Star Award
Bryan Giemza, Associate Professor of English at Randolph-Macon College, was one of two junior faculty recipients to receive a 2012 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s “Rising Star” Award. Twelve Outstanding Faculty designees statewide were recognized by “the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. These awards recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service.” http://www.schev.edu/AdminFaculty/OFA/2012/12Giemza.asp
Dr. Giemza was also a 2011 Recipient of the Hemingway Foundation and Society’s Smith-Reynolds Founders Fellowship.
Recent Journal Articles
American Literary History
Eckstein, Barbara. “Child’s Play: Nature-Deficit Disorder and Mark Twain’s Mississippi River Youth.” American Literary History 24.1 (2012): 16-33.
Parrish, Susan Scott. “Faulkner and the Outer Weather of 1927.” American Literary History 24.1 (2012): 34-58.
Szalay, Michael. “Ralph Ellison’s Unfinished Second Skin.” American Literary History 23.4 (Winter 2011): 795-827.
Kilgore, John Mac. “The Cakewalk of Capital in Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition.” American Literature 84.1 (2012): 61-87.
American Studies Journal
McHaney, Pearl. “Race, Rights, and Resistance in Southern Literature in the Age of Obama.” American Studies Journal. 56. 2012.
Flannery O’Connor Review
Giemza, Bryan. “Powers and Prophecy: An Interview With Valerie Sayers,” Flannery O’Connor Review 10 (2012).
Mark Twain Annual
Piacentino, Ed. “Recontextualizing Mark Twain’s ‘A True Story.’” Mark Twain Annual. 9 (2011): 31-43.
Arbery, Glenn C. “General Lee and the Siren: Allen Tate’s Failed Biography.” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Bilbro, Jeffrey. “The Eros of Child and Cupid: Wendell Berry’s Agrarian Engagement with Ecofeminism,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Bradley, Patricia L. “Choosing Sides during the Culture Wars of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s: Robert Penn Warren, the Weight of Agrarianism, and the Popular Audience,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Harrison, Rebecca. “White Woman, Indian Chief: Beatrice Ravenel and the Poetic Consciousness of Captivity,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Klevay, Robert. “‘He tossed his line out grimly’: Barry Hannah’s Literary Parables,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Lessig, Matthew. “Mongrel Virginia: Ellen Glasgow’s Barren Ground and the Curse of Tenancy,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Mainland, Catherine. “Chopin’s Bildungsroman: Male Role Models in The Awakening,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
McDermott, Emily A. “Ovid, Christians, and Celts in the Epilogue of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Piacentino, Ed. “Ham Jones, North Carolina Backwoods Humorist, and the Art of ‘Democratic Elbow-Rubbing,’” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Radavich, David. “Marsha Norman’s Bi-Regional Vision in ’night, Mother,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Russell, Richard Rankin. “‘We pick at the scabs’: Writerly Persistence and Family Woundedness in Harry Crews’s Blood Issue,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Thomières, Daniel. “Man’s Way and Woman’s Way in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Watson, Veronica. “Lillian B. Horace and the Literature of White Estrangement: Rediscovering an African American Intellectual of the Jim Crow Era.” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Witherow, Jean. “‘Abysses of Solitude’: Chopin’s Intertextuality with Flaubert,” Mississippi Quarterly 64.1-2 (2011).
Bibler, Michael P. “Queer Antiracism and the Forgotten Fiction of Murrell Edmunds, a Southern ‘Revolutionary.'” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Duck, Leigh Ann. “Peripatetic Modernism, or, Joe Christmas’s Father.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Emery, Mary Lou. “The Poetics of Labor in Jean Rhys’s Global Modernism.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Kim, Heidi Kathleen. “The Foreigner in Yoknapatawpha.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Kodat, Catherine Gunther. “Afterword: New Studies.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Lowe, John. “Creating the Circum-Caribbean Imaginary: DuBose Heyward’s and Paul Robeson’s Revision of The Emperor Jones.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Lurie, Peter. “Faulkner’s Literary Historiography: Color, Photography, and the Accessible Past.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Matthews, John T. “Willa Cather and the Burden of Southern History.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Stecopoulos, Harilaos. “Introduction: The New Southern Studies and the New Modernist Studies.” Philological Quarterly 90.2-3 (2011).
Popular Culture Review
Kolin, Philip C. “Popular Dance and Music in Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.” Popular Culture Review 23. 1 (Winter 2012): 67-74.
South Atlantic Review
Achilles, Jochen. “Postmodern Aesthetics and Postindustrial Economics: Games of Empire in Suzan Lori Parks’s Topdog/Underdog.” South Atlantic Review 75.3 (2010): 11-24.
Mayberry, Susan Neal. “Putting Down Parking Lots out There in Unpaved Paradise: Toni Morrison [en]Counters American Cowboy Culture.” South Atlantic Review 75.3 (2010): 83-108.
Coston, Daniel. “Backstage Stories: Wonders, Relics, and a Beer Fridge.” Southern Cultures 17.4 (2011): 24-35.
Fitzgerald, Michael Ray. “Boss Jocks: How Corrupt Radio Practices Helped Make Jacksonville One of the Great Music Cities.” Southern Cultures 17.4 (2011): 6-23.
McDonald, Rob. “Native Ground.” Southern Cultures 18.1 (2012): 21-33.
McKeithan, Seán S. “Every Ounce a Man’s Whiskey? : Bourbon in the White Masculine South.” Southern Cultures 18.1 (2012): 5-20.
Giemza, Bryan. “Turned Inside Out: Black, White, and Irish in the South .”Southern Cultures 18.1 (2012): 34-57.
Southern Literary Journal
Atkinson, Ted. “Hellhound on His Trail: Faulknerian Blood-guilt and the Traumatized Form of Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 19-36.
Barlow, Daniel Patrick. “‘And every day there is music’: Folksong Roots and the Highway Chain Gang in The Ballad of the Sad Café.”Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 74-85.
Casero, Eric. “Designing Sutpen: Narrative and Its Relationship to Historical Consciousness in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 86-102.
Littler, Lucy R. “The Implications of ‘Chosenness’: Unsettling the Exodus Narrative as a Model for Black Liberation in Randall Kenan’s A Visitation of Spirits.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 37-55.
Moffett, Joe. “A Coin for a Closed Eye”: Pound’s Influence on Wright’s “Appalachian Book of the Dead” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 56-73.
Moore, Geneva Cobb. “A Demonic Parody: Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 1-18.
Mou, Xianfeng. “Kate Chopin’s Narrative Techniques and Separate Space in The Awakening.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 103-120.
Piacentino, Edward J. “Slavery Through the White-Tinted Lens of an Embedded Black Narrator: Séjour’s “The Mulatto” and Chesnutt’s “Dave’s Neckliss” as Intertexts.” Southern Literary Journal 44.1 (2011): 121-143.
Jones, Suzanne. “Imagining Jefferson and Hemmings in Paris.” Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
Mazzari, Louis. “‘Key to the Highway’: Blues Records and the Great Migration.” Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
McHaney, Pearl. “Eudora Welty: Sensing the Particular, Revealing the Universal in Her Southern World.” Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
Niewiadomska-Flis, Urszula. “The Gastrodynamics of Edna Pontellier’s Liberation.” Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
Robinson, Owen. “‘Magic Portraits Drawn by the Sun”: New Orleans, Yellow Fever, and the Sense(s) of Death in Josh Russell’s Yellow Jack. Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
Tuhkunen, Taina. “Tennessee William’s Post-Pastoral Southern Gardens in Text and on the Movie Screen.” Transatlantica: Revue d’études americaines, American Studies Journal. 1. 2011.
Walt Whitman Quarterly Review
Kurant, Wendy. “‘Strange Fascination’: Walt Whitman, Imperialism, and the South.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 29.2-3 (2012): 81 – 95.
University of Alabama Press
Mullen, Harryette. The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be: Essays and Interviews. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012.
Railey, Kevin. Natural Aristocracy: History, Ideology, and the Production of William Faulkner. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012.
Watts, Eric King. Hearing the Hurt: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, and Politics of the New Negro Movement. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012.
The Awakening and Other Writings by Kate Chopin. Edited by Susanne Disheroon-Green, Barbara C. Ewell, Pamela Glen Menke, and Susan Scifres. Peterbrough, ON: Broadview Press, 2012.
University of Chicago Press
Munby, Jonathan. Under a Bad Sign: Criminal Self-Representation in African American Popular Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
University of Georgia Press
Hutchison, Coleman. Apples & Ashes: Literature, Nationalism, and the Confederate States of America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012.
The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place. Ed. Tom Lynch, Cheryll Glotfelty, and Karla Armbruster. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012.
University of South Carolina Press
Collins, Michael S. Understanding Etheridge Knight. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
Durham, Carolyn A. Understanding Diane Johnson. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
Halfacre, Angela C. A Delicate Balance: Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
Pennington, Estill Curtis. Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
Ward, Robert. Understanding James Leo Herlihy. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
University Press of Florida
Clabough, Casey. Inhabiting Contemporary Southern and Appalachian Literature: Region and Place in the Twenty-First Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012.
Miller, W. Jason. Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012.
University of Illinois Press
Jones, Meta DuEwa. The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2011.
Mitchell, Koritha. Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930. Champaign: University of Illinois Press,2011.
The Black Chicago Renaissance. Ed. Darlene Clark Hine and John McClusky Jr. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2012.
Louisiana State University Press
Lancaster, Ashley Craig. The Angelic Mother and the Predatory Seductress: Poor White Women in Southern Literature of the Great Depression. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2012.
Salvaggio, Ruth. Hearing Sappho in New Orleans: The Call of Poetry from Congo Square to the Ninth Ward. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2012.
Wachtell, Cynthia. War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2012.
McFarland and Co.
Worthington, Leslie Harper. Cormac McCarthy and the Ghost of Huck Finn. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2012.
University Press of Mississippi
Brown, Carolyn J. A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Claxton, Mae Miller. Conversations with Dorothy Allison. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Costello, Brannon and Qiana Whitted. Comics and the U.S. South. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Dolinar, Bryan. The Black Cultural Front: Black Writers and Artists of the Depression Generation. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Faulkner and Formalism: Returns of the Text. Ed. Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
The Past is Not Dead: Essays from the Southern Quarterly. Ed. Douglas B. Chambers. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
University of Tennessee Press
Agee at 100: Centennial Essays on the Works of James Agee. Ed. Michael Lofaro. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.
Knight, Alisha. Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream: An African American Writer’s (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.
Turner, Daniel Cross. Southern Crossings: Poetry, Memory, and the Transcultural South. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.
Ohio State University Press
Fruscione, Joseph. Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry. Chicago: Ohio State University Press, 2012.
Hemingway and the Black Renaissance. Ed. Gary Edward Holcomb and Charles Scruggs. Chicago: Ohio State University Press, 2012.
Miller, D. Quentin. A Criminal Power: James Baldwin and the Law. Chicago: Ohio State University Press, 2012.
The (Un)Popular South: Proceedings of the Southern Studies Forum Bienniel Conference, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic. Edited by Marcel Arbeit and M. Thomas Inge. Olomouc, Czech Republic: Palacky University, 2012.
University of Virginia Press
Fowler, Doreen. Drawing the Line: Boundary Negotiation from Faulkner to Morrison. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013.