Summer 2014


Topics in American History: The Modern South

M,W 12:30-2:30, 222 Peck Hall


Dr. Kris McCusker                                                                     Dr. Pippa Holloway

PH 271/898-2544                                                                        PH 239/615-438-4950 (cell)                                           


This course will survey key historical literature on the U.S. South in the twentieth century.  We will read works of cultural, political, social, labor, and legal history, biographies and works that use oral history sources. 


The readings will lead us to engage two of the most important historic questions about the modern South: (1) Southern distinctiveness. Is there a "South"? What makes the South unique? Is there a southern identity or multiple southern identities? If southern distinctiveness does exist, is it rooted in culture, politics, demographics, ideology, or economics?  (2) Is the twentieth century a period of continuity or change in the South? To be sure, much changed, but did critical continuities persist? Is the South transformed in this period, or did the traditional structures of culture, race, gender, and authority endure? 


Dr. McCusker and Dr. Holloway will team teach this class. Dr. McCusker will teach the first half of the semester, and Dr. Holloway will teach the second half. 



The writing assignments will be four short book reviews (two for each professor) and one concluding historiographic essay that will be graded by both of them. The book reviews will be 3-4 pages long, must follow the professional standards established by the Journal of American History or the Journal of Southern History, and are due on the day the text is discussed in class. The historiographic essay will be based on a question we will give you in class that assesses the literature you are reading this summer and should be at least 15-25 pages. It is due on August 6, the last day of class.



40% - Book reviews

40% - Historiographic essay

20% - Class participation


Students are expected to complete all of the assigned reading and be prepared to discuss it on the assigned day.


Course meets from June 2 to August 8


Week 1, June 2


Monday (Class 1)

Carl Degler, “Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis: The South, the North, and the Nation,” Journal of Southern History 53 (1987): 3-18


Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts. “Rethinking the Boundaries of the South,” Southern Cultures 16 (2010), 72-88.


Wilbur Cash, "The Mind of the South," American Mercury, 1929


Segregation Papers from the Southern Historical Association


Wednesday (Class 2)

Gregory Downs, Declarations of Dependence: The Long Reconstruction of the Populist Politics in the South, 1861-1908 (2014)


Book Review Pair:

James M. Beeby. Revolt of the Tar Heels: The North Carolina Populist Movement, 1890–1901 (2008)


Week 2 June 9


Monday (class 3)                                         

Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920  (1996)


Book Review Pair: William S. Link, The Paradox of Southern Progressivism (1997)


Wednesday (Class 4)                                  

Patrick Huber, Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South (2007)


Book Review Pair: Bill C. Malone, Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’ (2006)


Week 3 June 16


Monday (Class 5)

Jared Roll, Spirit of Rebellion: Labor and Religion in the New Cotton South (2010)


Book Review Pair: Robin Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression


Wednesday (Class 6)

Michael Bertrand, Race, Rock and Elvis (2004)


Book Review Pair:  Pete Daniels, Lost Revolutions


Week 4 June 23


Monday (Class 7)                                        

Kevin Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2007)


Book Review Pair: Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise      


Wednesday (Class 8)                                  

Ted Ownby, ed., Manners and Southern History (2011)


Book Review Pair: Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Being Dead is no Excuse


Week 5 June 30


Monday (class 9)                                         

Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (2010)


Book Review Pair: Jacquelyn Hall, Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women's Campaign Against Lynching (1983)


Alternate/Additional Book Review Pair: Crystal Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching (2011)



No Class


Week 6 July 7


Monday (class 10)

Claire Strom, Making Catfish Bait out of Government Boys: The Fight Against Cattle Ticks and the Transformation of the Yeoman South (2010)


Book review pair: Edmund Russell, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (2001).


Wednesday (class 11)                                 

James C. Cobb, Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity  (2005)


Book review Pair: Karen Cox, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (2011)


Week 7 July 14


Monday (class 12)                                       

Ben Wise, William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker (2011)


Book Review Pair: Bertram Wyatt-Brown, The House of Percy: Honor, Melancholy, and Imagination in a Southern Family (1996)


Wednesday (class 13)                                 

David Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (1997)


Book Review Pair: Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2009)


Week 8 July 21


Monday (class 14)                                       

Susan Cahn, Sexual Reckonings: Southern Girls in a Troubling Age (2011)


Book Review Pair: Grace Palladino, Teenagers: An American History (1997)


Wednesday (class 15)                                 

Leslie Brown, Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Jim Crow South (2008)


Book Review Pair: William Chafe: Civilities and Civil Rights. Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (1981)


Week 9 July 28


Monday (class 16)                                       

Jacquelyn Hall, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (1987)


Book Review Pair: Bob Korstad, Civil Rights  Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South (2003)


Wednesday (class 17)                                 

Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press 2011).


Book Review Pair: Kevin Mack, Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer (2012)


Week 10 August 4

Monday: Day off to work on historiographic essays


Wednesday: Papers due and end of class celebration