An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
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  • Posted on June 19, 2012

    Allen Tullos, Emory University

    Tom Rankin, Delta Winter, Bolivar County, Mississippi, 2010.
    Tom Rankin, Delta Winter, Bolivar County, Mississippi, 2010.

    Tom Rankin is stepping down as the director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University after fifteen years of service. During Tom’s tenure as director, CDS has become an internationally recognized documentary arts institution, annually offering many undergraduate courses and continuing education classes leading to certificates. Integral to these educational experiences are the center’s exhibitions, books, awards, radio programming, multimedia production, fieldwork projects, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. In addition to his work at CDS, Tom Rankin is an editorial board member of Southern Spaces. We are excited that Tom will have time to do more photography and teaching. He will also become director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program. Below is the job announcement for the open director position:

    The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University seeks a director with proven leadership skills and a demonstrated passion for the documentary arts. The director will supervise a management team with thirty-two full-time and approximately forty part-time staff and faculty. The Center has an operating budget of $4 million, eighteen percent of which comes from Duke University, with the remainder flowing from its $30 million endowment and additional grants. Managing additional fund-raising is a major responsibility of the director. Founded in 1989, the Center annually oversees numerous undergraduate and continuing education courses as well as workshops in the documentary arts. It also collaborates on an MFA program, while supporting cutting-edge documentary work in photography, film and video, narrative writing, community studies, and documentary radio production. Dedicated to the ideals of social and environmental justice, CDS specializes in work that documents diverse, underrepresented voices and that balances community goals with individual artistic expression. The new director should have significant experience as a practitioner, teacher, and leader in the documentary arts, and ordinarily will hold an academic appointment in the appropriate department in Duke's School of Arts and Sciences. Read more:

    DEADLINE: September 1, 2012. To apply, send a cover letter, resume, and references to Professor William Chafe, c/o Joan Shipman, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Box 90046, 421 Chapel Drive, Allen Building 104, Durham, NC, 27708.

    Posted on June 14, 2012

    Duke University Archives

    Central America Protest, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, March 25, 1984.

    According to Duke Yearlook:

    Members of the Students for a Democratic Central America counter-protesting a demonstration done by the Central America Solidarity Committee.

    Members of the Central America Solidarity Committee staged a march commemorating the assassination of Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero four years earlier. Both CASC and SDCA distributed leaflets and information to people leaving church services about their respective views on American involvement in Central America.

    Courtesy of Duke University Archives, Durham, North Carolina.

    Posted on June 12, 2012

    Alan G. Pike, Emory University

    The Bulletin 

    This week's Bulletin focuses on recent announcements in publishing and digital scholarship. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding these issues.

    • The Modern Language Association (MLA) announced that its journals (PMLA, Profession, and the bulletins of the Association for Departments of English and Association for Departments of Foreign Languages) have adopted new "open-access-friendly" author agreements, which "leave copyright with the authors and explicitly permit authors to deposit in open-access repositories and post on personal or departmental Web sites the versions of their manuscripts accepted for publication." MLA Executive Director Rosemary G. Feal suggested that the change might encourage open access to humanities scholarship more broadly.
    • Also, the American Historical Association announced the establishment of a Task Force on Digital Scholarship to assess the state of digital scholarship in the historical profession, evaluate tenure and promotion practices and graduate training, and issue guidelines for the evaluation of digital scholarship similar to those released by the MLA in 2007. This task force was formed in response to an open letter drafted by graduate students, tenured and non-tenured faculty, and librarians at a THATCamp AHA session in January.
    • On May 24, the University of Missouri announced that it would begin phasing out its press, the University of Missouri Press, beginning in July. The planned shutdown of the press, which was established in 1958 and is known for the collected works of Langston Hughes and series on Mark Twain and Harry S. Truman, has been met with opposition via letters to the editor in Missouri newspapers, a facebook page, and public statements by prominent alums and donors. It is unclear whether these voices will ultimately save the press, as happened with the Louisiana State University Press in 2009.
    Posted on June 7, 2012

    Katie Rawson, Emory University

    Natasha Trethewey interviewing Elizabeth Alexander, 2009.
    Natasha Trethewey interviewing Elizabeth Alexander, 2009. From Southern Spaces.

    This week, Natasha Trethewey was named the United States Poet Laureate. As we celebrate and congratulate her, we wanted to take a moment to share her contributions to Southern Spaces.

    Trethewey has been an important figure in the life of our journal. As well as serving on our board, she co-produces Poets in Place, a series on the site since 2005. Poets in Place presents original videos of poets reading and discussing their poems in locations they write about. Videos of her poems "Elegy for the Native Guards" and "Theories of Time and Space" were published in 2005. Since then, as Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize and became the US Poet Laureate, she continued her commitment to Southern Spaces, interviewing poets, including Elizabeth Alexander, publishing readings of "Congregation" and "Geography," and sitting for an hour long interview in 2010. Below is a bibliography of Trethewey's contributions to Southern Spaces.


    Poets in Place,


    Trethewey, Natasha. "Congregation." September 9, 2010.

    ———. "Elegy for the Native Guards." June 10, 2005.

    ———. "Geography." January 11, 2011.

    ———. "Jake Adam York interviews Natasha Trethewey." June 25, 2010.

    ———. "Theories of Time and Space." June 20, 2005.


    Albergotti, Dan. "Shadows along the Waccamaw." November 24, 2008.

    Alexander, Elizabeth. "Natasha Trethewey interveiws Elizabeth Alexander." December 10, 2009.

    Brown, Jericho. "Naming Each Place." March 4, 2010.

    Hill, Sean. "The Morning with Many Tongues." February 27, 2009.

    Jones, Rodney. "An Absence I Know I Won't Reclaim." January 22, 2009.

    Phillips, Patrick. "Watching the Surface for a Sign." April 14, 2009.

    York, Jake Adam. "A Field Guide to Northeast Alabama." March 7, 2008.

    Posted on June 5, 2012

    Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University

    Debby Holcombe, Cover of booklet for "Georgia Harmonies: Celebrating Georgia Roots Music," 2012. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History, University of West Georgia.
    Debby Holcombe, Cover of booklet for "Georgia Harmonies: Celebrating Georgia Roots Music," 2012. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History, University of West Georgia.

    On April 14, the exhibition “Georgia Harmonies: Celebrating Georgia Roots Music” opened at the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun, Georgia. The first of a dozen stops in Georgia of “New Harmonies” (a project of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program), the exhibit focuses on the connections between musical cultures and place. Events and performances at each of the small towns at which the exhibit stops feature musics with historical ties to the town and region, and present-day roots in the area.

    In Laurie K. Sommers’ Southern Spaces article, “Hoboken Style: Meaning and Change in Okefenokee Sacred Harp Singing,” the author describes the “Hoboken style” of Sacred Harp singing in south Georgia’s Okefenokee region, where “Georgia Harmonies” will stop (and feature Sacred Harp singing) in the summer and fall of 2013. Sommers details how some Okefenokee residents understood Sacred Harp singing as a regional, rather than religious denominational practice. This way of thinking about the style rendered broader participation possible and facilitated increased exchange with singers from other regions of the United States, a process which in turn precipitated changes to regional singing practices.

    James Robert Chambless, Michael Thompson and Joyce Walton lead a song at a Sacred Harp singing, Holly Springs Primitive Baptist Church, Bremen, Georgia, June 2, 2012.
    James Robert Chambless, Michael Thompson and Joyce Walton lead a song at a Sacred Harp singing, Holly Springs Primitive Baptist Church, Bremen, Georgia, June 2, 2012.

    Sommers’ account demonstrates how associating a community-based music with place (rather than solely with family, religious denomination, race, ethnicity, or another cultural marker) creates openings for individuals who fall outside the group previously associated with the music to participate. By connecting varied forms of “roots music” otherwise identified with racial or religious groups with the towns and regions where they occur, the “New Harmonies” exhibition likewise has the potential to introduce such music to new people, and to bring practitioners of different musical styles together. This certainly happened in my case.

    Ann McCleary, Members of the United Note Singers sing shape-note music, Sweet Home Baptist Church, Hiram, Georgia, February, 2011. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History, University of West Georgia.
    Ann McCleary, Members of the United Note Singers sing shape-note music, Sweet Home Baptist Church, Hiram, Georgia, February, 2011. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History, University of West Georgia.

    I traveled to Calhoun on Saturday, May 5 to participate in a Sacred Harp singing held in conjunction with the traveling exhibition. The event attracted a group of perhaps a dozen long-time white Sacred Harp singers like myself, thirty or so listeners from the Calhoun area, and three participants in a related predominantly-black shape-note singing community who had long heard of Sacred Harp singers but had a scheduling conflict with the annual Sacred Harp singing in Calhoun and had never had an opportunity to attend. Over lunch I and a couple of other Sacred Harp singers shared histories and information with these visiting singers, who were members of an association of black shape-note singers called the United Note Singers. The next day, four other white Sacred Harp singers and I traveled to Marietta to participate in a shape-note singing under the group’s umbrella at Zion Baptist Church. Members of both groups were grateful for the opportunity—precipitated by the Smithsonian exhibition’s association of our respective musical styles with place—to meet, share histories, and compare and contrast our musical practices.


    “Georgia Harmonies: Celebrating Georgia Roots Music” was held in Calhoun from April 14–May 24 and will stop in eleven other locations across Georgia through November 26, 2013.

    Posted on May 31, 2012

    Janet Powell, Photographer

    Janet Powell, Buffalo Mountain Windfarm, Anderson County, Tennessee, 2005
    Located north of Oak Ridge and about thirty miles northwest of Knoxville, Buffalo Mountain Windfarm was built in the 2000s as part of the Green Power Switch program of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The windfarm consists of eighteen turbines and generates a total capacity of twenty-nine megawatts, which is enough to provide power to about 3,800 homes. It is the only windfarm in the southeast United States.
    Posted on May 29, 2012

    Alan G. Pike, Emory University

    The Bulletin

    The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

    • On Thursday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune announced that it "will significantly increase its online news-gathering efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week." Residents of greater New Orleans will only be able to read the 175-year old paper via the print edition on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays or in its online form at Three Alabama newspapers (The Birmingham News, Mobile's Press-Register, and The Huntsville Times) also announced that they would be publishing three days per week and focusing on online news; all four papers are owned by the media company Advance Publications.
    • The Alabama Legislature passed Senator Gerald Dial's (R-Lineville) plan for redistricting the state's thirty-five Senate districts in the wee hours of Thursday morning. State Democrats—none of whom voted for the bill—have suggested that the Department of Justice will not approve the plan because it reduces the influence of African American voters across the state. The Alabama Legislative Reapportionment Office details the changes, which reduce the number of majority-white districts in which African Americans make up at least 25% from eleven to six, in this helpful interactive map.
    • The US Department of Labor is investigating Florida's implementation of strict new rules for unemployment insurance eligibility after the National Unemployment Law Project and Florida Legal Services jointly filed a detailed complaint which argues that the new rules violate Section 303(a)(1) of the Social Security Act, which requires states to “establish methods of administration reasonably calculated to insure payment of benefits when due.” The rules in question are a part of a series of changes to the state's Unemployment Insurance law enacted in December of 2011 (HB7005).