This one-quarter, all-level program will explore the history of the U.S. South from 1900 to the present.
The American South has been portrayed in American culture as a particularly exceptional and uniquely backwards place through much of the twentieth century. At the same time, examples of southern culture came to be seen as the dominant examples of American popular culture. By 2000, it became popular to speak of the “southernization” of America because of the popularity of southern music, movies and television, and sports like football and NASCAR. This transition, from the South as exceptional to America as southern, will be at the heart of this program.
Specific historical topics will include: how racism, through disfranchisement and Jim Crow segregation, structured southern politics and everyday life; how people of color, particularly African Americans, organized social movements to end legal segregation; the daily lives and activism of southern women of all races; and how the South changed from a mostly rural, agrarian region to a place of post-industrial cities, sprawling suburbs, and depopulated rural areas of mechanized farming.
Classroom activities will include lectures, workshops, and seminars. Student work will include weekly readings, reflective writing, and a substantial independent research and writing project. Readings will be mostly historical but will also include examples of southern literature and other primary sources. The research project will be the centerpiece of the program. Students will undertake historical research on a topic of their choice related to the American South, and complete scaffolded assignments including a revised draft.
The program will sometimes meet in coordination with From the Earth: The Stories, History, and Social Justice of Farming in the U.S. to explore shared themes through in-class creative writing activities, workshop writing projects, and to seminar on shared texts.
Course Reference Numbers
Teaching, higher education, literature, law, politics.