AMST 211, Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey
Spring 2010, 9:30-10:45 AM, Tu/Th
Tuesday 11:00-12:30; Wednesday 1:00-2:30, and by Gardner 08 by appointment ? Profs. Bernie Herman and Marcie Cohen Ferris ? Marcie Cohen Ferris, 320 Greenlaw, firstname.lastname@example.org ? Bernie Herman, 312 Greenlaw, email@example.com ? Ferris office hours: Tues., 3:30-5 PM, and by appointment. ? Herman office hours:
? Emily Hilliard, Teaching Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
? Steve Kruger, Teaching Assistant, email@example.com ? Jacqueline Solis, American Studies Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey” is a work-in-progress, which we will create together as a classroom community. We look forward to exploring the MANY Souths with you this
For generations, artists, documentarians, musicians, scholars, and writers have
attempted to capture this diverse region in the works of their hands and minds. They
have done so in expressive forms of material and visual culture, in the literature of
native southerners and those who live in the many “southern diasporas” of America
such as New York‟s Harlem and Chicago‟s South Side, in the musical traditions of the
blues, gospel, country music, and hip hop, at the tables of white linen restaurants,
corner cafes, and home kitchens, and in the contemporary media world of blogs,
websites, journalism, film, and television that have taken southern cultural forms to a
global audience. Cultural tourism and the commodification of southern culture has
created a multi-billion dollar industry attracting visitors to the region and exporting its
folk art, food products, and “southern-aesthetic” sold in countless forms from
plantation-style house plans to lowcountry sea grass baskets and NASCAR t-shirts.
Hurricane Katrina‟s near destruction of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast brought attention to the region‟s invaluable culture, and what it would mean to America “to lose New Orleans.”
Students will examine southern cultural identity, recognizing the contributions of all its people, including
men and women of American Indian, African, Latino, Asian, and European descent,
and inversely, exploring how global communities have responded to the cultural George McCord, Sunset on St. John‟s River, Ogden Museum exports of the American South. Students will consider the region in all its
complexity through a multi-disciplinary conversation about the American South that
considers art, archaeology, architecture, cultural tourism, ecology, folklife, foodways, geography, history,
language, literature, material culture, myth and manners, music, politics, religion, values, and more.
Course assignments will expose students to the unsurpassed resources of UNC‟s Southern Historical
Collection and Southern Folklife Collection, as well as southern collections at UNC‟s Ackland Museum
of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum at Duke University, the Museum of Early
Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, and other cultural and historical institutions in the region.
Students will be encouraged to explore local cultural “repositories,” such as the pottery centers of
Seagrove and Jug Town, to taste the local flavors of southern foodways, and to attend regional art
happenings, literary readings, musical performances, and folklife events.
1. To understand the complex history and evolution of the term, “southern culture.”
2. To critically consider the cultural construction of southern identity: how and why does a
region create “identity?”
3. To articulate what makes the South viscerally American.
4. To question the history and idea of a “distinctive South.”
5. To consider the idea of a core cultural canon of the American South. Does it exist?
6. To examine both the diasporic and global American South.
The readings for our course are keyed to the presentations, but the match is never perfect. You
are responsible for all the concepts in the readings—even if they are not covered in class. Concepts and materials taken from the readings, however, should inform your class comments,
assignments, and exams.
There are five required texts:
? Andrew K. Frank, The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South (RHAAS) Read
Part I, II, III by mid-term, March 2. Complete Part IV, V by end of term.
? Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
? Southern Cultures, special food issue (Winter 2009), guest editor, Marcie C. Ferris
? Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard Poems
? Charles G. Zug, III, “North Carolina Pottery Center Booklet”
Many of our readings will come from two southern journals:
1. Southern Cultures, published quarterly by UNC's Center for the Study of the American South,
Southern Cultures assembles a rich forum of animated, voices discussing all aspects of southern
life. Compiling the best of academic and general interest writing, each issue features insightful
articles, entertaining columns, and captivating photographs--all bound in an award-winning
design. Regular features survey southern foods, personal reminiscences, and contemporary
trends. For online access to Southern Cultures issues published since winter 2000, go to Project
Muse at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_cultures/
2. Southern Spaces is a peer-reviewed, online journal exploring the real and imagined places of the American South and their connections with the wider world. The journal welcomes
submissions from scholars, photographers, and visual artists in such areas as geography, southern
studies, regional studies, African American, Native, and American Studies, women's studies,
LGBTQ studies, and public health. Southern Spaces includes a great range of materials from traditional scholarly articles (enlivened by web resources, primary documents, and video) to
southern poets reading their work “in situ,” to new exhibits, as well as a great selection of
weblinks to other southern resources and institutions. See: http://www.southernspaces.org/
SYLLABUS, BIBLIOGRAPHY, CLASS RESOURSES, AND INSTRUCTIONAL SHEETS
AND FORMS FOR ASSIGNMENTS ARE POSTED ON THE AMST 211 WEB PAGE. Go to
http://blackboard.unc.edu/, click the login button, and then click on AMST 211 spring semester.
The course webpage is located under “Library Research” on our blackboard site.
Postcard 1 DUE 1/21 (5% of final grade)
Fieldwork: Archival Collection DUE 2/4 (15% of final grade)
Mid-term DUE 3/4 (20% of final grade)
Fieldwork: Heritage site or museum DUE 3/25 (15 % of final grade)
Postcard 2 DUE 4/15 (5% of final grade)
Fieldwork: Eating experience DUE 4/22 (15% of final grade) Final exam Sat., May 1, 8-11 AM (25% of final grade)
Class participation: attendance/engagement in class counts towards your final grade.
Fieldwork: Students will visit and write 3-4 page reaction papers about each of the following:
1 museum or heritage site, 1 collection or archive, 1 eating experience. Each fieldwork
assignment stands as 15% of the final grade for a total of 45%:
? Museums or heritage sites: Ackland Art Museum at UNC-CH, Nasher Museum of Art at
Duke University, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-
Salem, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, Stagville
in Durham, and the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, UNC-CH.
? Archives and collections: Southern Historical Collection and Southern Folklife Collection in
UNC‟s Wilson Library, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), Winston-
? Eating experience: One of two options. 1) A southern foodways experience that might
include a meal or farmer‟s market visit. Think about the engagement of all the senses.
Southern Places, Spaces, Traces, and Faces: Two postcards (these can be new or vintage or homemade). Choose a postcard or make one that epitomizes a Southern place. Postcard 1: on the
reverse side write a description of the sense of place (think of this as the answer to the statement
“wish you were here—why?). Postcard 2: on the second postcard write a message that describes
“how” the postcard visualizes the sense of place. In the address square of both postcards, write the address of the places or people you would visit to learn more about that sense of place. Each
postcard is 5% of the final grade. Total 10%. See the North Carolina postcard collection at
Wilson Library: North Carolina Postcard Collection, NC Collection, Wilson Library
Exams: There will be two in-class exams—a mid-term and a final. The midterm counts 20% of the final grade. The final exam counts for 25%.
The final grade is computed from the total marks:
A (96-100), A- (91-95), B+ (88-90), B (84-87), B- (81-83), C+ (78-80), C (74-77), C- (71-73),
D+ (68-70), D (64-67), D- (61-63), F (<61)
The University of North Carolina policy on academic honesty can be found at:
Speaking and Writing Skills: Ability to read, write, listen, and speak effectively. Critical Thinking Skills: Ability to raise clear and precise questions, use abstract ideas to
interpret information, consider diverse points of view, and reach well-reasoned conclusions.
Participation takes two forms: class attendance and regular participation in class discussion.
There will be a sign-in sheet circulated for each class. It is your responsibility to be sure that you
sign in. The instructors and teaching assistants will keep track of those who contribute to class
discussion. You are allowed two unexcused absences. Each unexcused absence that follows
drops your participation grade by 20%.
Sitting in class without participating, taking notes, or looking up regularly from your computer
are behaviors that do NOT constitute participation, or even presence. A steady and unvarying
stare at the computer screen clearly signals that the computer user is not participating, but doing
email, instant messaging, or something else irrelevant to the course. Such behavior, which is
obvious to professors and teaching assistants, will be reflected in your participation grade.
ATTEND lectures sponsored by UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South
(CSAS). This is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of southern history and culture;
the link to the Center‟s website is on our course webpage. CSAS sponsors great lectures and
programs throughout the semester. Explore their website.
EMAIL vs. OFFICE HOURS:
Remember, email is best suited to quick communication regarding class attendance, questions
regarding assignments, or minor concerns. If you have an important issue to discuss, such as a grade, personal situations, or issues occurring in class, please meet with us face-to-face
during office hours. And remember, email is a very public form of communication.
The University of North Carolina policy on academic honesty can be found at:
PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL SOUTHERN SPACES “READINGS” ARE ON-LINE, as well as many other sources listed on the syllabus---BE SURE TO CLICK ON TITLES TO
OPEN THE LINK TO THE WEB SOURCE.
PART 1: INTRODUCTION: “DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THE PLACE
Tu., Jan. 12: “TELL ABOUT THE SOUTH. WHAT‟S IT LIKE THERE. WHAT DO THEY DO THERE. WHY DO THEY LIVE THERE? WHY DO THEY LIVE AT ALL?,” Marcie Ferris and Bernie Herman. [Introduction to AMST 211 webpage, Jacqueline Solis,
? Natasha Trethewey, “Pastoral,” p. 35, and “Southern History,” p. 38, in Native Guard, e-
? Natasha Trethewey interview with Terri Gross, Fresh Air NPR, 2007 ? "Poets in Place," Southern Spaces Journal [pick a poet to listen to as they read one of their
poems in southern locations they write about]
Th., Jan. 14: “THAT‟S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE SOUTH,” Marcie Cohen Ferris and
Alternating things/Alternating Texts
? “Introduction,” RHAAS, 10-11.
? Charles Reagan Wilson, “Introduction: History,” in History, volume 3 of The New
Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (UNC Press, 2006) xvii-38, e-reserves.
? John Shelton Reed, “Forty Defining Moments of the Twentieth-Century South,” Southern
Cultures (Summer 2001) 94-97: Forty Defining Moments of the 20th C. South, JS Reed RECOMMENDED SOURCES:
? Larry Brown interview NPR, after his death, Nov. 25, 2004. ? Guardian Interview with Cormac McCarthy
? Nov 2007, NPR review of McCarthy's The Road
? "Place, Time, and Memory," William Christenberry, Southern Spaces Journal
Tues., Jan. 19: SOIL: DIRT AND PLACE, Vin Steponaitis, Professor of Anthropology,
UNC-CH and Director, UNC Research Laboratories of Archaeology
? Vincas P. Steponaitis, “Native American Cultures of the Precolonial South,” in The Natchez
District in the Old, Old South, ed. Vincas P. Steponaitis (1998),1-22, e-reserve.
? Lankford, George E. (2004). "World on a String." In Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand:
American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South, edited by Richard F. Townsend and
Robert V. Sharp. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, and Yale University Press, New Haven,
? Vincas P. Steponaitis and Vernon J. Knight, Jr. (2004). "Moundville Art in Social and
Historical Context." In Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient
Midwest and South, edited by Richard F. Townsend and Robert V. Sharp, pp. 167-181.
(Yale University Press, New Haven and London.)
? “Part 1: The Nascent South,” RHAAS, 14-19.
Th., Jan. 21: SOIL: PROPERTY AND SPACE, Malinda Maynor Lowery, Department of
? Melinda Maynor Lowery, “Finding Wisdom in Places: Lumbee Family History.” Indigenous
Diasporas: Unsettling Western Fixations. Edited by Graham Harvey and Charles D.
Thompson. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Press, 2005. 153-68, e-reserve.
? James Taylor Carson, “ „The Obituary of Nations‟: Ethnic Cleansing, Memory, and the
Origins of the Old South,” Southern Cultures 14 (Winter 2008), 6-31.
POSTCARD 1 DUE IN CLASS.
Tu., Jan. 26: WATER: FLOOD, Marcie Cohen Ferris. Visit with Holly Smith,
Overholser Archival Fellow for African American Studies, Southern Historical Collection.
? “The Modern South,” and “The Tennessee Valley Authority,” RHAAS, 112-115. ? "The Geography of Social Vulnerability: Race, Class, and Catastrophe," Susan Cutter, June
? "The X Codes: A Post-Katrina Postscript," Dorothy Moye, Southern Spaces Journal ? digitized photos of the 1927 Miss. River Flood, from John Millikin Parker Papers, SHC RECOMMENDED SOURCES:
? Special issue on Hurricane Katrina, Southern Cultures (Summer 2008). Take a look through
this poignant collection of articles in the on-line journal: Southern Cultures: Special Issue on
Katrina, summer 2008
? Thomas Neff, and intro by Moira Crone, “Hanging On and Holding out in New Orleans after
Katrina,” Southern Cultures (Summer 2007) 91-111, e-reserves. ? Lyle Saxon and the WPA Guide to New Orleans, Lawrence Powell, Tulane , Southern
? "Katrina: One Year Later: Three Perspectives," Bruce West, Todd Bertolaet, David Wharton,
Southern Spaces Journal
? Bobby Gentry, "Ode to Billy Jo," 1968
? short film illustrating flooding of NOLA during Katrina
? FILMS ABOUT FLOODS IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH: Spike Lee‟s “When the Levees
Broke,” American Experience “New Orleans,” American Experience “Fatal Flood,”
“Showboat” (1951), “The Old Man and the Storm,” “Trouble the Water,” “Return to the
Th., Jan. 28: AIR: SONG, Bill Ferris, Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History,
Senior Associate Director of Center for the Study of the American South, Adjunct Professor in
the Curriculum in Folklore, UNC-CH
? OXFORD AMERICAN INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR DR. WILLIAM FERRIS, author,
Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (UNC Press, 2009): OA Interview
with Bill Ferris, Give My Poor Heart Ease
? Charles Wilson Reagan, "The Mississippi Delta," Southern Spaces Journal
Tu., Feb. 2: AIR: DRINK, BERNIE HERMAN
Th., Feb. 4: AIR: ORATORY, Minrose Gwin, Kenan Eminent Professor of English,
UNC-CH, co-editor, Southern Literary Journal
REQUIRED READINGS: selections from The Literature of the American South, ed. William L. Andrews (W.W. Norton, 1997), e-reserve:
? Richard Wright, "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow," pp. 545-548; (Intro to Wright) and pp.
548-556 (the narrative itself).
? Eudora Welty, "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" pp. 616-619 (Intro to Welty) and
pp.624-628 (the story itself).
? Margaret Walker, poetry, pp. 721-728 (Intro to Walker and poems).
? R.T. Smith, poetry, pp. 1036-1040 (Intro to Smith and poems).
? Dorothy Allison, pp. 1040-1052 (Intro to Allison, Preface to TRASH, "River of Names).
? Natasha Trethewey Interviews Elizabeth Alexander about poetry, place, race, family history,
Southern Spaces Journal
WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE IN CLASS: Fieldwork: Archival Collection, “The South
PART 3: THINGS
Tu., Feb. 9: THINGS: CLAY, Marcie Cohen Ferris
? Charles G. Zug, III, “North Carolina Pottery,” Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, eds.
Ferris/Wilson, 485-487, e-reserve.
? Charles G. Zug, III, North Carolina Pottery Center Booklet, 1-16.
Th., Feb. 11: THINGS: PAPER-A Conversation, Bernie Herman and Jennie Tone-Pah-
Hote, UNC American Studies Post-Doc Fellow.
? Jacqueline Fear-Segal, "Prologue: Prisoners to Pupils," in White Man's Club: Schools, Race,
and the Struggle of Indian Acculturation (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 1-27,
Tu., Feb. 16: THINGS: FIBER, Bernie Herman
? Mary Lee Bendolph, “Mama‟s Song,” in Paul Arnett, et. al., eds, Gee’s Bend: The
Architecture of the Quilt (Atlanta: Tinwood Books, 2006), 172-187, e-reserve.
? Laurel Horton, Mary Black’s Family Quilts: Memory and Meaning in Everyday Life
(Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2005), 50-99, e-reserve.
Th., Feb. 18: THINGS: SOUTHERN CRAFT REVIVAL, Marcie Cohen Ferris
? Chap. 2: “Creating an Appalachian America: „Enlightening our Contemporary Ancestors,‟
1880-1935,” in Jane Becker‟s Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an
American Folk, 1930-1940 (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1998) 41-71.
? “Uplifting the Southern Highlander: Handcrafts at Biltmore Estate Industries Author(s):
Kelly H. L'Ecuyer Source: Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 37, No. 2/3 (Summer-Autumn, 2002),
pp. 123-146 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Henry Francis
du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.
? Craft Revival: Shaping North Carolina Past and Present (website)
PART 4: PLACES
Tu., Feb. 23: PLACES: THE PLANTATION, Marcie Cohen Ferris and Bernie Herman
? Drew A. Swanson, “Wormsloe‟s Belly: The History of a Southern Plantation through Food,”
Southern Cultures (Winter 2009) 50-66.
? “The Peculiar Institution,” “Cotton Becomes King,” “Nat Turner,” RHAAS, 40-45
? James O. Horton, "The Future of Slavery's Historical Spaces," Southern Spaces Journal
Th., Feb. 25: PLACES: MILL AND TOWN LIFE, Jim Leloudis, Department of History,
Associate Dean for Honors, and Director, James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate
? “Industrializing Dixie,” “The Urbanization of the Agrarian South, “Cotton Culture and
Sharecropping,” RHAAS, 90-97.
? Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Robert Korstad, James Leloudis, “Cotton Mill People: Work,
Community, and Protest in the Textile South, 1880-1940.” The American Historical Review
Vol. 91, No. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 245-286, e-reserve.
? Barbara Presnell, “Pauline Learns to Sew,” p. 40, “Jimmy Oxendine, Red Springs Plant,” p.
44, “Velma Wraps it Up,” p. 68 in Piecework (Cleveland State University Poetry Center,
? Allen Tullos, "The Carolina Piedmont," Southern Spaces Journal
Tu. Mar. 2: MID-TERM REVIEW (Complete reading Part I, II, and III of The Routledge
Historical Atlas of the American South, 10-86. Complete remaining Part IV and V, 86-133, by April 27.)
Th. Mar. 4: MID-TERM
SPRING BREAK: Fri., Mar. 5-Sun., Mar. 1
PART 5: EXPERIENCE
Tu., Mar. 16: FLAVOR: SWEET and BITTER, Marcie Cohen Ferris
? Marcie Cohen Ferris, “Introduction: The Edible South,” Southern Cultures (Winter 2009) 3-
? Kevin Young, “Victuals,” p. 36-37, “Ode to Pork,” p. 87-88, “ “Ode to Fig Preserves,” p.
191-192 in Dear Darkness (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) e-reserves.
Th., Mar. 18: FLAVOR: SALT, FAT, SAVORY, Bernie Herman
? Bernie Herman, “Drum Head Stew: The Power and Poetry of Terroir,” Southern Cultures
(Winter 2009) 36-49.
? John Berry, “Toward Fried Chicken,” and William Styron, “Southern Fried Chicken (with
Giblet Gravy),” in American Food Writing, Molly O‟Neill, ed. (New York: Library of
America, 2007), 326-334.
? William G. Thomas, III, UVA, "The Chesapeake Bay," Southern Spaces Journal
Tu., Mar. 23: FAITH: FAITH: DAMNATION AND FORGIVENESS, Bernie Herman
Thornton Dial, “Mr. Dial is a Man Looking for Something,” in Souls Grown Deep, v. 2, William Arnett and Paul Arnett, eds. (Atlanta: Tinwood Books, 2001), 192-225, e-reserve.
? John Beardsley, “His Story/History: Thornton Dial in the Twentieth Century,” in Thornton
Dial in the 21st Century (Atlanta: Tinwood Books, 2005), 274-292, e-reserve.
Th., Mar. 25: FAITH: LOVE AND SALVATION, Tim Tyson, Department of History,
? “The Praying South,” “Lynching and the New Racial Order,” RHAAS, 98-101. WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE IN CLASS: Fieldwork: Heritage Site or Museum, “The
South I Collected”