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Register now for a free online course with William R. Ferris

A new, free, six-week online course that explores the stories, music and art of the American South will be offered Oct. 13 to Nov. 28, developed and taught by the Center’s Senior Associate Director, William R. Ferris, in conjunction with the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education.

About the Course:

This course explores the stories, music, and art of the American South and considers how they serve as a window on the region’s history and culture. We will see how the region’s distinctive sense of place defines music and literature in each generation. From small farms to urban neighborhoods, from the region itself to more distant worlds of the southern diaspora, stories, music, and art chronicle places and the people who live within them.

Our course explores the nature of oral tradition and how its study can provide a methodology for understanding Southern literature. We will discuss Southern artists and photographers and will show how the history and traditions of the South influences their work. We will consider the work of Southern Writers and discuss how they utilize specific stories, music, and art as a structure for literary forms such as the novel and the short story. Lastly, we look into the rich history of southern music and its roots in work chants, fife and drum, and one-strand on the wall musics.

Sign Up:
For more information, and to register for free, visit:

Southern Cultures Fall Issue: Southern Waters

From mullet fishing on Brown’s Island to shrimping on the Gulf Coast, from recreation on the Great Lakes of the South to coastal tourism in the Sunbelt and tramping in the swampy lowlands of eastern NC, we take a look at tourism’s vital role in regional economies and the challenges of conservation and sustainability.

“The BP Oil Spill and the End of Empire, Louisiana”
by Andy Horowitz

“‘Hey, I can survive, I’m a survivor. You see that Survivor show on TV? That ain’t nothing.”


Also in this issue, Andrew W. Kahrl examines the Sunbelt’s foundation, “plac[ing] the coast at the center of the story and seek[ing] to understand how beaches came to reflect and influence broader changes in the region’s cultures and political economy.” Christopher J. Manganiello details the rise of dams on the Savannah River, which now block the migration of shad and sturgeon. “What did the shoals look like when the lilies bloomed?” he asks. “And…what would it be like to witness the great shad migrations and fishing parties of the past?” Ian Draves addresses that question by exploring the Tennessee Valley Authority’s impact on tourism, and John James Kaiser chronicles the battle over rate hikes and regulated energy from North Carolina’s Southern Power Company (now Duke Energy).

David Cecelski’s annotated photo essay, “An Eye for Mullet,” provides witness to Brown’s Island Mullet Camp. The photos, taken by Charles Farrell in 1938, reflect a time when fish dealers in Morehead City, N.C., “loaded so many barrels of salt mullet on outbound freight cars that local people referred to the railroad as ‘the Old Mullet Line.'” Bernard L. Herman and William Arnett offer another visual take on water through the work of artists including Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, and Thornton Dial Jr.

ALSO! Poetry by Patricia Smith; and a short recollection by Bland Simpson on the swamps of his youth.

Read in printonline through Project MUSE, and in various eBook formats.

Images: “The Old Water,” 2004, Thornton Dial Jr.; Phillip Simmons, Empire, LA, 2010, photo by Andy Horowitz.


Deltra Tate named Administrative Manager of CSAS

Deltra2The Center for the Study of the American South proudly announces Deltra Tate as our new Administrative Manager and Events Coordinator. Her appointment began on July 7, 2014. Tate comes to the Center from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where she served as a staff specialist in the Admissions Department.

“Deltra Tate brings expertise in human resources management and event planning to the Center,” said Kenneth Janken, Interim Director of the Center.  “A native and life-long resident of Durham and a product of North Carolina’s public schools, Deltra has earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration.  With her varied experiences in higher education and private industry, Deltra is certain to ensure the smooth running of the Center and its programming.”

The William R. Ferris Reader

Available for download now on your favorite eReader via

Renowned folklorist William R. Ferris has captured the voices of southern musicians, artists, writers, and thinkers for forty years—and we have been proud to publish his work in Southern Cultures for nearly half of that time.

To celebrate Southern Cultures‘s 20th anniversary, we present our inaugural special omnibus ebook, The William R. Ferris Reader. Collected here for the first time are all 20 of Bill Ferris’s essays and interviews as they have appeared in our pages between 1995 and 2013, as well as an introduction to the collection by Ferris.

From folk humor to moon pies to Faulkner, Welty, Walker, and so much more, we are delighted to share this special collection of a favored friend, mentor, and colleague.

Ferris eReader Contents

Get yours now for KindleiTunes, and Kobo. More formats coming soon!


McColl Fellows and Summer Research Grant Recipients for 2016-2017

McColl Dissertation Year Fellowship

pv_photo1Pavithra Vasudevan, our 2016-17 McColl Dissertation Year Fellow, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography whose work focuses on the stuff of environmental justice: toxicity, racism, and politics. Her dissertation research explores the history of race and waste in Badin, North Carolina, a segregated company town for workers at the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), from its establishment in 1915 to present-day issues of contamination. Pavithra has developed a play, “Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town,” which narrates the story of predominantly black West Badin based on excerpts from oral histories and observation of community meetings. Pavithra is grateful for the collaboration and mentorship of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. This project has benefited from dissertation research funding from the National Science Foundation and the Society of Women Geographers, and collaborative research grants from the Carolina Center for Public Service and the UNC Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research. Her dissertation is titled “Searching in Aluminum’s Shadows: Black Geographies and Industrial Toxicity in North Carolina.”

Summer Research Grants


Geoffrey Hughes is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. As an archaeologist, his dissertation research explores the relationships between pottery production, landscape, religion, and social identity in 18th-19th century Moravian communities in and around Winston-Salem, NC.

Anthropology: “Producing Identity and Moravian Pottery at Lot 38, Old Salem”

Click here to view Geoffrey Hughes’ research poster.





Rachel Garringer hails from a sheep farm in southeastern West Virginia. She is a second-year MA student in Folklore, a contributing editor for Scalawag magazine, and the founder of the ongoing oral history project Country Queers, which documents the diverse experiences of rural and small town LGBTQIA folks in the United States. Her thesis explores how constructions of tradition and queerness influence young LGBTQ Central Appalachians’ organizing to bring about a just economic transition to a post-coal economy in the mountains. Her research interests are community-based public folklore, digital humanities, oral history, Central Appalachia, and rural queer experiences.Her summer research project investigated “The Republic of ‘Fabulachia’: Queer Visions for a Post-Coal Appalachian Future.”

Click here to view Rachel Garringer’s research poster.


unc-bio-picTrista Reis Porter, Ph.D. candidate in UNC’s Department of American Studies, studies a variety of topics falling under the scope of American Art and Material and Visual Culture. Her dissertation addresses issues of identity, ideology, community, reception, and power around artists who tend to fall outside major canons of fine art. Bringing together the art and experiences of four artists working in a variety of mediums, she explores the shifting ways in which alterity, or otherness, has been and continues to be both confining and liberating within the contemporary art world. Her summer research project investigated “Alterity, Agency, and Creative Identity in the Work of Thornton Dial, Chris Luther, Dominie Nash, and the Philadelphia Wireman.”

Click here to view Trista Reis Porter’s research poster.



Victor Bouveron is a blues enthusiast from Lille, France. He is pursuing a Master’s degree in Folklore at the American Studies Department. Bouvéron explores the interplay of race, class, music and Gothic literature in the American South. His CSAS research grant funded ethnographic work with singer-songwriter Ray Cashman in Nolensville, Tennessee, fifteen miles from Nashville. Cashman connects blues and Gothic aesthetics in a fascinating way, delving into the literature of Harry Crews, Larry Brown and Tom Franklin. His summer research project investigated “The Influence of Southern Gothic Literature on Southern Music.”

Click here to view Victor Bouveron’s research poster.


charlotte-fryar-225x300-225x300Charlotte Fryar is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies, and her research interests include public higher education, oral history practice, digital methodologies, and twentieth century North Carolina history. Her dissertation uses oral histories and digital methods to document and interpret the long history of student activism against institutional racism on UNC’s campus. She holds a BA and MA in American Studies, both from UNC-Chapel Hill. After two years as a project manager at UNC’s Digital Innovation Lab, Charlotte now works for the Southern Oral History Program, where she is the first University History Field Scholar, a position supported by the Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History. Her summer research project investigated “Service to the State: The Legacy of William C. Friday.”

Click here to view Charlotte Fryar’s research poster.

Amanda Martin

City & Regional Planning: “Economic Resilience and Recovery in Princeville, NC”

Click here to view Amanda Martin’s research poster.

Rhagen Olinde

English & Comparative Literature: “History and Cultural Research in Grambling, LA”

Click here to view Rhagen Olinde’s research poster.

Sounds of the South Grant


Eric Przedpelski is a senior Music Performance Major/Geology and Entrepreneurship Minor from Summit, New Jersey. Eric was the recipient of the 2015-2016 Sounds of the South Award from the Center for the Study of the American South. An aspiring jazz musician, Eric used the award to further explore his passion for American jazz music by studying its Afro-Cuban roots in Cuba. He embarked on a one-week journey to Santiago de Cuba where he recorded each and every musical encounter in order to capture the invaluable sounds.

“Afro-Cuban Jazz and Its Influence on New Orleans Sound”

Click here to view Eric Przedpelski’s research poster.

McColl Dissertation Year Fellow

Rob Shapard-- "A Prospect of Beauty: Decline and Discourse in the Great Southern Longleaf Forest"

Rob Shapard
“A Prospect of Beauty: Decline and Discourse in the Great Southern Longleaf Forest”

Rob Shapard is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at UNC Chapel Hill, where he is writing his dissertation on historical perceptions of the longleaf pine forests of the American South. He also has been a field scholar for the Southern Oral History Program at CSAS, and formerly was a reporter for the Herald-Sunnewspaper in Durham, N.C.

McColl Early-Stage Research Fellow

David Cranford-- Catawba Household Variation in the Late Eighteenth Century

David Cranford
“Catawba Household Variation in the Late Eighteenth Century”

David Cranford is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology.  His dissertation is an archaeological study of household organization and variability within the Catawba Nation leading up to and following the American Revolution (c. 1760-1800) and focuses on two late 18th century Catawba domestic sites near Rock Hill, South Carolina

Summer Research Grant Recipients

Bryan Davis "Punishment and Reprieve: Who Gets Parole in North Carolina?"

Bryan Davis
“Punishment and Reprieve: Who Gets Parole in North Carolina?”

Bryan Davis is a master’s student in the Department of Statistics and Operations Research, and also a UNC alumnus, with a BA in History and Asian Studies in 2008. When asked how he made the jump from area studies to applied mathematics, he usually replies, “It’s a long story.” The truth of the matter is that studying mathematics seems like a natural extension of his interests, which has been in human systems, such as social systems, governments, and markets. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he moved to China, where he lived for four years, working as a translator and economic researcher. During his time there he became interested in using math to model and understand human behavior, and decided to return to school to fill in the gaps in his knowledge. In his research at UNC, he’s directed his efforts at issues far closer to home. His research with the Center addresses parole rates for serious offenders in North Carolina, focused on a statistical analysis of the major factors that influence parole decisions.  

Shelby Eden Dawkins-Law-- Student Perspectives of Resegregation in North Carolina Public Schools

Shelby Eden Dawkins-Law
“Student Perspectives of Resegregation in North Carolina Public Schools”

Shelby Dawkins-Law is a 2nd year student in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement strand of the PhD program in the School of Education. Her research interests are in the effects of racial and economic segregation in public elementary and secondary schools, focusing on the ways that public universities respond to these inequities by implementing policies to remain accessible to marginalized and underrepresented students. Her CSAS Summer Research Grant-funded project is a pilot study that seeks to collect student narratives of their experiences in the Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County public school systems as each discontinued their desegregation bussing plans in the last fifteen years. Shelby hopes to refine this research for her dissertation, with the aim of contributing qualitative findings that can inform higher education policy reform at the nation’s public colleges universities in an effort to make post-secondary education accessible for all students.


Sophie Dent-- A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Health, Nutrition, and Identity Among the Individuals of Historic Eaton Ferry Cemetery (Wr-4b)

Sophie Dent
“A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Health, Nutrition, and Identity Among the Individuals of Historic Eaton Ferry Cemetery (Wr-4b)”

Sophie Dent is a second year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology.  Her research focuses on the effects of dietary change and differential access to nutrition on historically marginalized groups in the American South.


Mary Donegan-- Inside the Triangle: Advancing Research on Entrepreneurship, Data, and Firm Location Decisions

Mary Donegan
“Inside the Triangle: Advancing Research on Entrepreneurship, Data, and Firm Location Decisions”

Mary Donegan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Her dissertation explores micro-geographies of entrepreneurial biomedical firms in the Research Triangle area, with particular attention towards the roles that universities, large corporations, non-profits, and government play in shaping long-term entrepreneurial spatial patterns in the region. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Mary earned her M.R.P. from UNC’s Department of City and Regional Planning.

Lauren Du Graf "Little Magazines and Literary Salons: The Mississippi Modernism of Charles Henri Ford"

Lauren Du Graf
“Little Magazines and Literary Salons: The Mississippi Modernism of Charles Henri Ford”

Lauren Du Graf is a PhD candidate from Seattle in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her article “‘Droits d’auteur’: The Faulknerian Author-Function in Godard’s Film Socialisme” received the 2012-13 A. Owen Aldridge Prize for an Outstanding Essay by a Graduate Student from the American Comparative Literature Association. Du Graf’s dissertation explores transnational modernist networks and communities of the mid-20th century. 

Bryan Fennessy "Reconstructing Memory and Loyalty in the Post-Civil War South, 1865-1880"

Bryan Fennessy
“Reconstructing Memory and Loyalty in the Post-Civil War South, 1865-1880”











Brian Fennessy is a third-year graduate student in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill. His interests range broadly through nineteenth century political and cultural history.  His current project explores the discourse and political uses of white anti-Confederate memory in the Reconstruction South.


Jeffrey Ryan Harris-- Settlers, "Savages," and Slaves: Assimilation, Racialism, and the Civilizing Mission in French Colonial Louisiana

Jeffrey Ryan Harris
“Settlers, ‘Savages,’ and Slaves: Assimilation, Racialism, and the Civilizing Mission in French Colonial Louisiana”

Jeffrey Harris, Ph.D. candidate in European history, is a Gulf Coast native and attended the University of South Alabama and The Ohio State University. He specializes in French and French colonial history. His dissertation, “Inventing the People: The Struggle for the General Will in the French Revolution,” connects metropolitan and colonial France to examine the development of democratic politics in the French Atlantic world. His work also examines Franco-indigenous relationships in North America and Oceania from the eighteenth century to the present.


Elijah Heyward III "Who took you out of the water?: Exploring baptism rituals and narratives among African American natives from the South Carolina Sea Islands

Elijah Heyward, III
“Who took you out of the water?: Exploring baptism rituals and narratives among African American natives from the South Carolina Sea Islands”

Elijah Heyward, III is a second-year PhD student in UNC’s Department of American Studies. His research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century African American religion, documentary studies, education, and Gullah culture. 


Bianca Lopez-- The effects of urbanization on riparian plant communities in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina

Bianca Lopez
“The effects of urbanization on riparian plant communities in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina”

Bianca Lopez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology.  She is working to complete her dissertation research on the effects of urban development on forests in the Southeast.


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Josh Parshall
“The Arbeter Ring Southern District: Yiddish Culture and Politics from Georgia to Texas”











Josh Parshall is interested in American Jewish identity, with an emphasis on the American South. His current research focuses on the activities of the Southern District of the Workmen’s Circle during the first half of the twentieth century.  Previously, Josh worked as an oral historian in Jewish communities throughout the region. He holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Kansas and an MA in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill.