New issue: JSH May 2020

Today’s post is by Nina D. Nevill, Southern Historical Association Editorial Intern and graduate student in history at Rice University.

The editorial staff of the Journal of Southern History is pleased to announce the publication, in print and digitally, of the May 2020 issue.

Timothy J. Williams, an associate professor of history in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, unearths the scarcely cited diary of Isaac Handy, a Confederate prisoner of war at Fort Delaware, in “The Intellectual Roots of the Lost Cause: Camaraderie and Confederate Memory in Civil War Prisons.” Williams contests the skepticism around prison writings, instead using them to capture “what was familiar and what was foreign” in the Civil War while connecting southern intellectual history to the history of memory and the creation of the Lost Cause. By emphasizing the importance of narratives, Williams calls on historians to reconsider the value of prison diaries as sources that “preserved the raw emotions and memories of war, captivity, and defeat and cast them in political ways that shaped the postwar South and national ideas about the region for decades.” In this article Hardy’s prison diary exemplifies the significance of studying print culture to reveal how prisoners “reflected on the past, documented the present, dreamed of the future, and assembled an archive of prison life.”

In “Desegregating Birmingham’s Buses: African Americans’ Protracted Struggle and White ‘Civil’ Resistance,” Sarah Frohardt-Lane, an assistant professor of history at Ripon College, takes Journal readers to 1950s Alabama using oral history interviews and court cases. Frohardt-Lane redirects the common discourse of bus desegregation in Alabama away from Montgomery and toward Birmingham. Unlike the successful outcome of the Montgomery bus boycott, the movement to desegregate Birmingham’s buses, this article shows, did not serve as a significant moment of meaningful integration for black residents of Birmingham. Rather, Frohardt-Lane argues, the fight for bus integration in Birmingham “was a protracted struggle with an ambiguous end point as white rejection of black equal access to buses morphed into a rejection of the bus itself.” “During the years-long process,” Frohardt-Lane concludes, “the increasing availability of the automobile gave white segregationists the ability to evade integration and retain their commitment to segregation without having to openly endorse it.”

In “Race Not Place: The Invasion, and Possible Retreat, of British Historians of the American South,” British historians Stephen Tuck of the University of Oxford and Clive Webb of the University of Sussex pair up in asking Journal readers to question the positionality of British-based historians of the South. Tuck and Webb contribute to widely disputed conversations about the insider and outsider dichotomy. In tracing the prevalent southern scholarship, Tuck and Webb argue that internationally based historians of the U.S. South are attracted to subject matter rather than geographic location, choosing to study topics such as slavery or the Civil War rather than the South as a region. “By looking at the work of historians of the South in Britain, rather than of ‘British’ historians of the South, the article recognizes that being British is not an explanation in itself, and that scholars have (increasingly) moved in both directions across the Atlantic at various stages of their careers.” Readers of this article will navigate the significance of publishing, teaching, and funding opportunities, cultural nuance, and “neutral history” in the decision to study southern history from abroad.

In addition to the quarterly book reviews, readers can stay up to date with southern history scholarship in the May issue through “Southern History in Periodicals, 2019: A Selected Bibliography.” Finally, the May issue offers SHA members access to the current workings of the Association through the annual report by Secretary-Treasurer Stephen Berry, the announcement of the nominees for officer positions, and the Call for Papers for the eighty-seventh annual meeting, scheduled to be held in New Orleans in November 2021.

The May 2020 issue has been mailed to SHA members and is also now available digitally through our partnership with Project MUSE.

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