Karen L. Cox: Goat Castle

August 4, 2017, is the 85th anniversary of the “Goat Castle Murder.” This strange and fascinating tale is recounted in Karen L. Cox’s new book, Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South, publishing on October 9, 2017. John Grisham calls it “a highly entertaining story about a long-forgotten murder.” Read on for… Continue Reading Karen L. Cox: Goat Castle

Pamela Grundy: Color and Character

At a time when race and inequality dominate national debates, the story of West Charlotte High School illuminates the possibilities and challenges of using racial and economic desegregation to foster educational equality. Continue Reading Pamela Grundy: Color and Character

Lindsey A. Freeman: The Uncanny Bohemia in Black Mountain

When the Black Mountain School began last summer, many folks were skeptical of this new school growing up in the ghostly space of the old. The site had what Michel de Certeau calls “an uncanniness of the already there,” a feeling of the past that is so familiar in a space that it overpowers the present, making unknown places feel known. Ragan and Void have since changed the name of their experiment in education to School of the Alternative. Even with the name switch, the inspiration of the original BMC shines through. A pedagogical sensibility clearly exists between the old avant-garde school and the new one. This can be seen in classes such as: Lose Your Mind and Come to Your Senses, which promises instruction in Fluxus methodologies, mindfulness, and chance operations; Giant Loom Weaving, which is just what it sounds like and takes place outdoors; and Tablows Vivant, which, according to the course description, is “a series of posed scenes to communicate a story or idea. In between each scene is a mini dance party. At night, with dramatic lighting! With some bodies involved.” Continue Reading Lindsey A. Freeman: The Uncanny Bohemia in Black Mountain

UNC Press Summer Reading List

Happy Summer! In honor of the summer solstice, we’re posting our suggestions for your summer reading list. If you’re planning a fun tropical vacation or just heading to your neighborhood pool, UNC Press has your perfect summer read. Pick up a fun guidebook or new biography, and don’t forget about our 40% sale! Continue Reading UNC Press Summer Reading List

Interview: Sandra Gutierrez on The New Southern-Latino Table

Author Sandra Gutierrez talks with publicist Catherine Cheney about her award-winning book, The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. Continue Reading Interview: Sandra Gutierrez on The New Southern-Latino Table

Interview: Jennifer Ritterhouse on Jonathan Daniels’s Travels in 1930s America

The heart of his own book about his trip was his conversations with the people he met, and a lot of the appeal for me in following him on his journey was to see and hear from them, too, in all of their variety. Continue Reading Interview: Jennifer Ritterhouse on Jonathan Daniels’s Travels in 1930s America

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

In our new book, The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People, we revisit and update a few of Reed’s key findings about the South. We focus particularly on the question of southern identity, exploring the powerful connection between southerners and their region. Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

While the reasons for identity may vary across people, we find that southern identity is heightened when individuals are forced to contrast the South with other regions, and people. In writing this book, we had many people tell us that they became most aware of their southern identity when they moved away from the South for the first time. They recalled stories where someone questioned their accent, criticized their home region, or asked them if they spent their free time watching reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard. Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

Forty years ago CBS aired the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 bestseller in which he traced his own ancestors back to West Africa, followed them to the United States as slaves, and took them forward into freedom. For the first time, a massive audience—roughly half the country’s population—confronted slavery and its legacies through an African American perspective. Roots prompted Americans to search out their own ancestors, particularly in subsequent years as digitization and personal computing brought resources to searchers’ fingertips.Now genealogy’s popularity—attested by the success of ancestry.com and the television show Who Do You Think You Are—makes it tempting to forget that we often shape our ancestors ourselves, even at the expense of historical evidence. Professional historians, in fact, were quick to point out fictions within Roots, a charge Haley accepted by originally calling his book a work of “faction.” I (re)learned this lesson about historical memory myself when it almost derailed the project that became my book, Atlantic Bonds. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners

We have celebrated the theme of Community for the past several days with our sibling publishers in the Association of American University Presses’ #UPweek. Today we invite you into our own virtual rolodex to introduce you to just some of the many partner organizations with whom we have collaborated to make many of your favorite books and journals possible. Continue Reading University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners

LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Some writers have noted the presence of the “southern gothic” or the “southern porch” in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s visceral visual album Lemonade. But the landscapes are unambiguously part of the geography of Louisiana; the visual album is haunting because of its specificity to place. Barely visible, in the discussion thus far, is the history of slavery—and its remnants—all over the landscape of the album. Continue Reading LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Excerpt: Ku-Klux, by Elaine Frantz Parsons

The Ku-Klux began as a name. It was chosen by a group of young former Confederates in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May or June 1866. Pulaski, the seat of Giles County, is seventy-four miles south of Nashville, connected to the city by the Nashville and Decatur Railroad. The war’s shadow fell heavily on the nation, but Pulaski bore a disproportionate share of suffering. While it was never itself a battlefield, Federal troops had occupied it, and it was in close proximity to some of the war’s most deadly fighting. Union troops camped in Pulaski in the days before the bloody Battle of Nashville, and were a frequent presence throughout the war. These strains may have contributed to the area’s fraught postwar atmosphere. Continue Reading Excerpt: Ku-Klux, by Elaine Frantz Parsons

Video: Julie Weise on the History of Mexicans in the U.S. South

When Latino migration to the U.S. South became increasingly visible in the 1990s, observers and advocates grasped for ways to analyze “new” racial dramas in the absence of historical reference points. However, as this book is the first to comprehensively document, Mexicans and Mexican Americans have a long history of migration to the U.S. South.… Continue Reading Video: Julie Weise on the History of Mexicans in the U.S. South

Excerpt: Southern Water, Southern Power, by Christopher J. Manganiello

James B. Duke did not wait for markets to emerge to justify massive capital investments in hydropower; he cultivated industrial consumers. Duke’s company, and other companies that followed, had never envisioned providing service to rural or residential customers. Continue Reading Excerpt: Southern Water, Southern Power, by Christopher J. Manganiello

Southern Cultures Journal App Now Available

Southern Cultures is now multimedia! Download the app for your tablet, and in addition to all the great content available in the print journal, you can also enjoy embedded audio, video, and links to additional resources. Continue Reading Southern Cultures Journal App Now Available

Ted Ownby on Subduing Satan, 25 Years Later

The sources were my friends, and I took pleasure in going into archives and looking at papers without a great deal of preparation. The mentalités scholarship allowed me to think about what it might have meant when diaries said virtually the same things except on Sundays, or when diarists listed the numbers of ducks they killed, or when they wrote at length about circus visits, or when young women wrote, night after night, “Did my work today,” and meant they sewed, darned, or knitted. Sources were often surprising. I had never heard of ring and lance tournaments before they appeared in some letters. An otherwise frustrating trip to Savannah yielded the diary of a teenager who worried about the ramifications of making fudge on Sunday. I certainly recall finding a letter at the Southern Historical Collection in which a young man bragged about having sex with a young woman in a buggy after Sunday night services. And sources taught me things I then needed to analyze, like the self-conscious modernity of county fair organizers or the decline in church disciplinary proceedings or the practice of town women staying away from town squares when rural men invaded on court days and Saturdays. Continue Reading Ted Ownby on Subduing Satan, 25 Years Later

Interview: Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett on Harry Golden, ‘Carolina Israelite’

A favorite trick of Golden’s was to add a well-known author, philanthropist, politician, or actor to the circulation list of the Carolina Israelite without the celebrity’s knowledge, then mention the famous person in print as one of the newspaper’s loyal subscribers. It’s amazing how often this led to real friendship! The famous and powerful liked Golden for the same reasons so many regular folks did—his straight talk, his encyclopedic knowledge on politics and history, and his refreshingly tart humor. Continue Reading Interview: Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett on Harry Golden, ‘Carolina Israelite’

Interview: Charles L. Hughes on Country Soul

Musically, there continues to be a deep stylistic overlap between country and soul. Some of the biggest country stars of today utilize the sounds and songs of R&B, while many contemporary soul and hip-hop artists (particularly from the South) bring the characteristics of country onto their records. Then there are the folks in the middle—many of whom, like Jason Isbell or Valerie June, are from the triangle—who draw from both traditions and blend them together in new and interesting ways. It remains one of the deepest wells of American music. Continue Reading Interview: Charles L. Hughes on Country Soul

Video: Celebrating 75 Years of ‘These Are Our Lives’

Contemporary documentary projects such as StoryCorps and Humans of New York thrive today in a spirit similar to that which led the vision of the Federal Writers’ Project and These Are Our Lives. They remind us that every life has a story, and every story matters. Continue Reading Video: Celebrating 75 Years of ‘These Are Our Lives’

Doug Orr: The Profound African American Influence on Appalachian Music

It is generally known that the American banjo’s origins trace back to West Africa and a gourd-like instrument the gnomi, among other names. However, the plantations were something of an incubator for music of the African American slaves in a variety of forms: the fiddle, learned at the plantation house; the call-and-response work songs from the toil of the plantation fields; spirituals stemming from church worship—often clandestine services or camp meetings with hidden messages of freedom’s call; and the hush lullabies sung by mammies to their babies, and sung with irony to the children of the plantation overlords. Continue Reading Doug Orr: The Profound African American Influence on Appalachian Music