chapter  14
14 Pages

The Challenge of Writing the South

For historians of southern higher education, understanding and interpreting regional history stands out as a full-time endeavor. In terms of regional history writ large, few bodies of American scholarship have emerged as long, large, and storied in the willingness to confront the raw themes of race, class, and gender, as well as explore the contours of power and privilege that fall along a marked color line. Yet a reckoning with the vastness of the literature is prerequisite, if not discouraging. In fact, so many significant books existed about the South by 1939 that someone observed that “any one who fired a gun was likely to kill an author.”1 Today, the 649-page thesis of Joshua Isaac Newman entitled, “Dixie’s Last Stand: Ole Miss, The Body, and The Spectacle of Dixie South Whiteness” gives additional testament to the weight of the task.2