Why Americans Love Andy Griffith’s Toothy Grin

In the Post-Civil Rights Era, Images of Southerners as ‘Slow-Witted Rubes’ Soothed White Anxieties

Today, when many Americans think of the “good old days”—when neighbors knew each other and the world seemed safer and simpler—they often conjure visions of the 1950s and early 1960s, as expressed in old TV comedies like The Andy Griffith Show.

But those times were not really simple: Americans were then gripped by Cold War fears and the Red Scare, and buffeted by new economic pressures. The entertainers who most successfully created sunny visions for anxious Americans of that era—our “good old days”—responded to tough times with cheerful portrayals of …

Our Revelatory Culinary Road Trip Through the New South

What Chorizo, Hummus, and Chiles Rellenos Say About a Changing Region

It was New Year’s Day in Charlotte, North Carolina, and seemingly half of Mecklenburg County had come to the K&W Cafeteria for black-eyed peas, greens, and hog jowls—foods to bring …

How the South Recast Defeat as Victory with an Army of Stone Soldiers

Confederate Monuments to Nameless Infantrymen Were Less About Celebrating History Than Reestablishing Social Order

Monuments to Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders have long been controversial, but monuments to nameless Confederate soldiers, those lone stone figures in public places, are far more …

How Southern Rock Reclaims Regional Identity While Facing Down Old Ghosts

By Reinventing Rebel Attitude, the Allmans and Their Brethren Forged a New Genre

The South spawned rock ’n’ roll. Some scholars pin its arrival to the first week of March, 1951, in Memphis, Tennessee. There, in the studio run by record producer, label …

How African Americans Emerged from Slavery with a Hunger for Education

From Plantations to Churches to the Classroom, Ex-Slaves Tirelessly Pursued Public Schooling

The focus of my research and writing is women’s involvement in higher education, especially women from the Pentecostal and Holiness faith traditions. While conducting research on African American female seminaries, …

Bringing Forward Important, if Forgotten, Artists from Deep in the American South

Our Museums Are Filled with Art by the Well-Connected. But We Need to Find the Truly Important Works to Reach Audiences.

What makes some artwork timeless?

History shows that neither high prices at auction nor gallery attendance figures are good predictors of how artists, artworks, and art movements will be viewed …