Understanding the South
In 2008, the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the United Kingdom agreed to fund an international research network dedicated to the theme “Understanding the South, Understanding America: The American South in Regional, National and Global Perspectives.” The network was based at the University of Manchester, with the Universities of Copenhagen, Cambridge, and Florida as partners. Between May 2008 and August 2010 each of these institutions hosted a network conference. These meetings brought together scholars from a range of disciplines and allowed them to explore together the current state and future prospects for the study of that section of the North American continent that eventually became known, with all due disclaimers about the definitional slipperiness of the term, as the American South.
This series of books from the University Press of Florida extends the work of the network, initially in three volumes grouped around the themes of creating citizenship in the nineteenth-century South, the South and the Atlantic World, and creating and consuming the South. While each volume stands alone as a valuable contribution to a particular aspect of southern studies, collectively they allow us to take stock of a rich and diverse field, to ponder the substantive disagreements and methodological tensions—as well as the common ground—among scholars of the South, and to think about new areas and techniques for future research. Each volume and many of the individual essays are marked by an interest in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to the region. Indeed, one aim of the series is to juxtapose the work of historians with that of scholars associated with the New Southern Studies in the belief that historians and those working out of literary and cultural studies traditions have much to learn from each other in their quest to understand (p.viii) the American South in a variety of overlapping temporal, geographic, symbolic, cultural, and material contexts.
The coeditors of the series wish to thank all those colleagues who participated in the four conferences. Special thanks are due to Tony Badger at the University of Cambridge for his generous financial support and for hosting the Cambridge conference; to James Broomall, Heather Bryson, Angela Diaz, and Angie Zombek at the University of Florida for their logistical help; and, at the University of Manchester, to David Brown for coediting the Citizenship volume, Michael Bibler for his consistently constructive engagement with all aspects of the network, and Tom Strange and Jennie Chapman for their invaluable administrative assistance. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for its sponsorship of the network, to the British Academy and the United States Embassy’s Cultural Affairs Office in London for important additional funding, and to Meredith Morris-Babb at the University Press of Florida for her enthusiastic support of the Understanding the South series of books.
Brian Ward, Northumbria University
Martyn Bone, University of Copenhagen
William A. Link, University of Florida