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Death and the American South


Part of Cambridge Studies on the American South

Craig Thompson Friend, Lorri Glover, Peter N. Moore, Jewel L. Spangler, Jamie Warren, Jeff Strickland, Diane Miller Sommerville, Donald G. Mathews, Kristine M. McCusker, Jason Morgan Ward, Andrew Denson
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  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107446038

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About the Authors
  • This rich collection of original essays illuminates the causes and consequences of the South's defining experiences with death. Employing a wide range of perspectives, while concentrating on discrete episodes in the region's past, the authors explore topics from the seventeenth century to the present, from the death traps that emerged during colonization to the bloody backlash against emancipation and civil rights to recent canny efforts to commemorate - and capitalize on - the region's deadly past. Some authors capture their subjects in the most intimate of moments: killing and dying, grieving and remembering, and believing and despairing. Others uncover the intentional efforts of Southerners to publicly commemorate their losses through death rituals and memorialization campaigns. Together, these poignantly told Southern stories reveal profound truths about the past of a region marked by death and unable, perhaps unwilling, to escape the ghosts of its history.

    • Essays are written in vivid and accessible prose, and are an ideal length for weekly readings and class discussion
    • Authors use a variety of methodological approaches to their research and explore different parts of the South and varying themes in history
    • The only book of its kind in the emergent field of death studies which will be of interest to Southern historians across chronological fields
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Death has always held high revel in the South, where malaria, Indian wars, the brutality of slavery, national defeat and a host of gray ghosts paved the way for today's high rates of gun ownership, obesity, diabetes, and capital punishment. The authors of these excellent essays cannot exorcise these Southern haunts, but they do explore with dark beauty how Southerners have made meaning in the teeth of often meaningless (and self-inflicted) pain. This is another five-star collection from the team of Friend and Glover.' Stephen Berry, Gregory Chair in the Civil War Era, University of Georgia

    'Death and the American South is a tenacious study - comprehensive, intuitive, and most importantly, provocative. Tightly argued chapters cover a wide array of phenomena, from experiences of collective sorrow and racial violence to issues of psychological control. The contributors interrogate historic memory in powerful ways. This is a highly absorbing book.' Andrew Burstein, Charles P. Manship Professor of History, Louisiana State University

    'Scholars have long awaited a volume like Death and the American South. While remaining attentive to the universal aspects of deathways, this impressive collection makes a strong case that the South had - and has - a distinctive culture of death. The result is a powerful, coherent collection of original essays.' Erik R. Seeman, State University of New York, Buffalo

    'Craig Thompson Friend's essay on scalping, Lorri Glover's study of founding father deaths, and Andrew Denson's reflection on the battle over Cherokee graves all show the region and one essential experience of life in new ways. For any student of Southern history this collection makes a valuable companion to the scholarship of Randy Sparks, Drew Gilpin Faust, Philip Dray, and others.' R. Blakeslee Gilpin, The Journal of American History

    '… the eleven chapters that comprise Death and the American South are replete with intellectually stimulating and thorough research about everything from the specific ways by which colonists killed each other and displayed bodies in the early South to the conflicting strategies that the tourist trade has adopted to exploit the deaths of Native Americans. There are no weak links … The great strength of the collection is that each chapter contextualizes death in its own way.' Ted Ownby, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    'The essays cover a sweeping chronological period from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, and that broad lens makes it possible to trace important themes across the region's history, especially those themes involving the complex function of race in shaping southern attitudes toward death, dying, and the body.' Randy J. Sparks, North Carolina Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107446038
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Death and the American South: an introduction Craig Thompson Friend and Lorri Glover
    1. Mutilated bodies, living specters: scalpings and beheadings in the early South Craig Thompson Friend
    2. The usable death: evangelicals, Anglicans, and the politics of dying in the late colonial low country Peter N. Moore
    3. When 'history becomes fable instead of fact': the deaths and resurrections of Virginia's leading revolutionaries Lorri Glover
    4. American mourning: catastrophe, public grief, and the making of civic identity in the early national South Jewel L. Spangler
    5. To claim one's own: death and the body in the daily politics of antebellum slavery Jamie Warren
    6. Nativists and strangers: yellow fever and immigrant mortality in antebellum Charleston, South Carolina Jeff Strickland
    7. 'Cumberer of the earth': suffering and suicide among the faithful in the Civil War South Diane Miller Sommerville
    8. The 'translation' of Lundy Harris: interpreting death out of the confusion of sexuality, violence, and religion in the New South Donald G. Mathews
    9. 'He's only away': condolence literature and the emergence of a modern South Kristine M. McCusker
    10. 'A monument to Judge Lynch': racial violence, symbolic death, and black resistance in Jim Crow Mississippi Jason Morgan Ward
    11. Reframing the Indian dead: removal-era Cherokee graves and the changing landscape of Southern memory Andrew Denson.

  • Editors

    Craig Thompson Friend, North Carolina State University
    Craig Thompson Friend is Professor of History and Director of Public History at North Carolina State University.

    Lorri Glover, St Louis University, Missouri
    Lorri Glover is the John Francis Bannon Endowed Chair in the Department of History at St Louis University, Missouri.


    Craig Thompson Friend, Lorri Glover, Peter N. Moore, Jewel L. Spangler, Jamie Warren, Jeff Strickland, Diane Miller Sommerville, Donald G. Mathews, Kristine M. McCusker, Jason Morgan Ward, Andrew Denson

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