Understanding the South, Understanding Modern America: The American South in Regional, National and Global Perspectives
University of Manchester, May 22-24, 2008
This interdisciplinary Conference explores the importance of the American South in shaping the history of the postwar US and, by extension, the region’s influence on the nation’s relationship with much of the modern world. In various ways the Conference will test the proposition that a greater understanding the history and culture of the American South is crucial to understanding the contours of modern US history and the nature of its global cultural, economic, ideological, diplomatic and political connections. This event, with its avowedly interdisciplinary agenda, is also an appropriate vehicle to mark the 60th Anniversary of American Studies at the University of Manchester.
In particular, the Conference will reflect, extend and help to bring together two important recent intellectual trends in the study of the US South. First, it features scholars who are at the heart of the “New Southern Studies”. This is an interdisciplinary move rooted in cultural and literary studies which stresses the parallels and relationships between the American South and other societies (particularly those located in the Atlantic World) which have had broadly similar experiences of plantation and post-plantation economies, military defeat and occupation, and in which racial and gender issues have been particularly important in defining political, economic, social and cultural affairs. Second, it brings together some of the leading historians of the postwar South: scholars whose work has illuminated the continuing peculiarities of the region, noting its internal differences and sub-cultures, while simultaneously revealing the enormous influence of southern social, political, cultural and economic developments on the broader domestic and international history of the contemporary US. Thus far, these two flourishing research streams have proceeded in parallel, rather than in a mutually beneficial dialogue. The Conference aims to provide an arena for such dialogue.
In sum, the Conference seeks to encourage methodological innovation in Southern Studies across disciplines, promote a more sophisticated understanding of key aspects of modern southern history, and foster greater appreciation of the relationships between the South and other national and global sites.
Those scheduled to participate in the Conference include Michael Bibler, Martyn Bone, Heather Bryson, Jane Dailey, Allison Graham, Paul Harvey, Nancy Hewitt, Benjamin Houston, Victoria Kennefick, Richard King, John Kirk, Steven Lawson, William A. Link, Sharon Monteith, Tom Smith, and Angela Zombek.
The Conference Programme will also include a performance of singer-author Sandi Russell’s celebrated one-woman show “Render Me My Song: African American Women Writers From Slavery to the Present.”
Pending the result of various funding applications, we are hoping to be offer a limited number of bursaries to defray some of the costs of attendance for UK-based postgraduates.
More details of the Conference programme, schedule, delegate fees, etc., are available at:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk//southconference/ or contact Brian Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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