This volume gathers personal recollections by fifteen eminent historians of the American South. Coming from distinctive backgrounds, traveling diverse career paths, and practicing different kinds of history, the contributors exemplify the field's richness on many levels. As they reflect on why they joined the profession and chose their particular research specialties, these historians write eloquently of family and upbringing, teachers and mentors, defining events and serendipitous opportunities.
The struggle for civil rights was the defining experience for several contributors. Peter H. Wood remembers how black fans of the St. Louis Cardinals erupted in applause for the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson. "I realized for the first time," writes Wood, "that there must be something even bigger than hometown loyalties dividing Americans." Gender equality is another frequent concern in the essays. Anne Firor Scott tells of her advisor's ridicule when childbirth twice delayed Scott's dissertation: "With great effort I managed to write two chapters, but Professor Handlin was moved to inquire whether I planned to have a baby every chapter." Yet another prominent theme is the reconciliation of the professional and the personal, as when Bill C. Malone traces his scholarly interests back to "the memories of growing up poor on an East Texas cotton farm and finding escape and diversion in the sounds of hillbilly music."
Always candid and often witty, each essay is a road map through the intellectual terrain of southern history as practiced during the last half of the twentieth century.
|Publisher:||University of Georgia Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
John B. Boles is William Pettus Hobby Professor of History at Rice University and managing editor of the Journal of Southern History. His books include Shapers of Southern History and Autobiographical Reflections on Southern Religious History (both Georgia).
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Fifteen historians known for their work in Southern history connected with universities around the U. S. respond to the editor Boles proposition that they write essays on the relationship between their earlier lives and their eventual work as historians. As Boles put it in his letter to them, he was asking them to 'think autobiographically and ponder what in your background and life experiences helped determine you to become a historian of the South.' Material could embrace education, mentors, decisions, and successes and rejections. Boles is a history professor at Rice U. and managing editor of the 'Journal of Southern History.' The fifteen historians responded openly and thoughtfully. The essays are engaging for their personal tones as well as how the work of any historian is prompted and molded by his or her penchants, experiences, and mentors and associates. Drew Faust, from Harvard, begins his essay 'Living History,' with, 'We create ourselves out of the stories we tell about our lives....' Pete Daniel, on the other hand, in 'Accidental Historian,' begins, 'Nothing in my family suggested that I would become a historian.' The varied personal paths into the discipline evidence why history is so informative and germane. It is because identity and memories are bound into it that it is able to speak about human affairs.