BLS 380: The New South

This course will examine the changing—and unchanging—nature of the American South since the Civil War. We will examine various topics wrapped up in some essential questions: What makes a Southerner a Southerner? How different is the South as compared to the rest of the United States? In what ways has a southern distinctiveness shaped American society, culture, and folkways? Our examination of the New South will begin with the Civil War and its heritage; we will proceed to the effects of war and reform in the twentieth century; and we will conclude by examining the recent post-1945 transformation of Southern life. We will examine the impact that the Civil War had on Southern society; in particular, we will attempt to understand the process by which several million African Americans realized freedom through wartime emancipation and Reconstruction. We will also try to understand the sources of sweeping change affecting the South after the late 19th century; the impact of the industrial revolution, changes affecting the plantation system, and widespread urbanization. We will look, as well, at the consequences of Southerners who left the South in great numbers during the 20th century, how the South and its culture—its music, food, and way of life—moved into the national mainstream. The nature of change will also include an examination of the civil rights revoltion and its impact on Southern life after the 1950s.


  • Blackmon, Douglas A. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Anchor reprint, 2009. ISBN 978-0385722704
  • McLaurin, Melton. Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South. University of Georgia Press, 1987. ISBN 978-0820320472
  • Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Vintage Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0679763888